Dr. Michael Nwoko, a Senior Special Assistant on Health Monitoring to Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta state has advanced reasons why alumni associations should be involved in the development of institutions of higher learning across the country.
Dr. Nwoko who is also Chief of Staff to Senator Ned Nwoko representing Delta North in the National Assembly, spoke during the 10th end of year party of the alumni association of University of Benin, held at Sandralia hotel, Abuja on Sunday December 10, 2023. In his address, Dr. Nwoko, popularly called The Political Oshobe by friends and admirers, told the gathering that UNIBEN is one of the greatest institutions that have produced great personalities in Nigeria.
Dr. Nwoko who has been an advocate for justice and fair society, revealed how he and his colleagues battled for their fellow classmates despite having not been matriculated into the University of Benin as at then. His drive, according to him, was to ensure a better learning environment for him and his classmates.
He told the group how the university then sandwiched over 4000 students into a lecture theatre that was meant for 200 students on the campus, a development which led them to protest to the office of the then vice chancellor to seek for better learning environment for them.
“We were just two weeks old on campus when I led a protest to the office of the VC. We wrote to the VC about the dilapidated nature of the lecture theatre. We mobilized to his office. They tried to intimidate us but we refused to be intimidated,’” he told his alumni members on Sunday in Abuja.
He said institutions of higher learning have greater roles to play in the development of nations, insisting that higher institutions of learning have championed researches that have led to the economic and scientific development of nations.
He said striving nations of the world have strong higher institutions which carry out researches with the objective of revamping and building the economy of those nations. In this regard, he said Nigerian universities are not living up to their billings.
He called for better synergy and stimulation from members of university alumni associations to draft position papers and deploy their experiences in the outside world to develop the universities and equip them with relevant materials as a way of strengthening them to contribute their quota in terms of research to change the economic landscape of Nigeria.
He said: “The alumni association can stimulate and energise the universities. It is expected that you bring your experience, I bring my experience. The alumni association should add value to the university system. The alumni association has a very important role to play in any institution of higher learning.
“As alumni associations contribute to the development of the universities, the institutions of higher learning contribute to the positive growth and development of the nation and society at large. They owe their nations obligation of conducting research for nation building. No nation can grow or move forward without research. Researches were what scientists all over the world conducted to be able to overcome COVID-19 after it was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The researches were done by great institutions of the world. They developed vaccines that aided in combatting COVID-19.
“Institutions of higher learning have that role to play towards ensuring nation building and growing the economy of the nation. Oxford University and others worked closely with scientists in Europe to churn out data on how COVID-19 was affecting nations of the world. They worked tirelessly round the clock. That is research in action.
“Institutions of higher learning have that role of developing the society and revamping the economy. Our universities in Nigeria are not living up to expectations in terms of contributions towards growth and development of society. They are not doing enough. But we can stimulate and energize them to do better.
“Having come out of the university to face the realities of life, it is expected that we deploy our experiences to stimulate the universities. The alumni association has a vital role in this regard. I want to crave our indulgence as members of UNIBEN alumni towards strengthening the institution and enhancing its capacity to contribute to growth and development of Nigeria.
“Let’s do everything possible to make sure Nigeria works. Nigeria is our country, it’s our home. Though racism is gradually being wiped out of the world, there is still systemic racism outside there. We must all contribute towards ensuring Nigeria becomes a great nation. The alumni association in this regard has a role to play in strengthening the institution while the institution has a role to play in developing the nation.
“It is the duty of the alumni association to engage the university authority as well as the students’ community on certain ethical standards that must be maintained. The alumni association has a duty to advice the institution. The alumni president being a member of the university governing council must advice the university on critical issues of development. The alumni should develop position papers, issue based position papers that can help the university grow.”