…..Proprietor, Ned Nwoko, makes big history as he receives a licence
Popular Nigerian billionaire philanthropist, international attorney and educationist, Dr Ned Nwoko stood tall on the lane of history on Thursday, May 12 as the Federal Government of Nigeria presenteseriouslyd him with the provisional licence for Sports University of Nigeria, Idumuje-Ugboko, Delta State, the first of its kind in Nigeria, West and Sub Sahara Africa.
The former member of the Nigerian House of Representatives said the new university will take off latest in January next year within the forthcoming 2022/2023 academic year. The unique sports university is a project that the hero of Paris/London excess payment refunds and malaria eradication in Africa champion has pursued diligently for many years surmounting daunting challenges in the process.
Alongside proprietors of 11 other newly approved private universities, Ned Nwoko, the husband of star actress, Regina Daniels, received the licence from the Federal Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu at the Auditorium of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja amid aplomb and accolades from several dignitaries including international sporting icons.
The exceptional tertiary institution which is expected to catalyze Nigeria’s sports revolution will run conventional university academic curricula in addition to various sports programmes. The popular prince of Idumuje-Ugboko kingdom said the licensing of the premier sports university was a dream come true for him as he had since his childhood years nursed the ambition of providing an environment, with rightful ambience, where sportsmen and women would develop their potentials to full capacity and at the same time undertake academic activities.
The Minister of Education, Adamu stated while presenting the licences to Ned Nwoko and others that the Federal Government was well aware of the need to improve the country’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking knowing that countries that are consistently well-ranked in human development indices have maintained a respectable number of universities relative to their populations.
Adamu’s words: “In the 2020 UN Human development index, Nigeria dropped three places to 161 out of 189 countries and territories. These are some of the matters we aim to address. As usual, the provisional approval for these universities to operate is intended to create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within the first three years of operation.”
He disclosed that the new universities would be affiliated with older generation universities for academic and administrative mentoring which would be moderated by the NUC.
The Minister urged the proprietors to sustain funding towards improving infrastructure, and equipment for teaching and learning as well as keep human resources up to earn the universities accreditation by NUC.
The Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed hailed Ned Nwoko and the other proprietors of the new universities for their bold initiatives.
While stressing that private universities bring uniqueness to the Nigerian university landscape, Prof. Rasheed said: “The NUC has embarked on radical re-engineering of the curricula in the Nigerian universities to meet global standards and international best practices toward preparing Nigerian graduates for relevance in the world economy.
He added: “The Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) has been revised to Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) by NUC along with the programme’s best experts and industry stakeholders.
“The CCMAS, which will soon be unveiled to the public, provides 70 per cent of what should be taught along with the expected outcomes, while universities will provide 30 per cent based on their contextual peculiarities and characteristics.
“The establishment of more private universities under the strict supervision of NUC is an antidote to the proliferation of illegal source of worry and embarrassment to the nation and a menace to quality university education delivery.’’
The NUC Chief enjoined the proprietors to acquaint themselves with the code of governance for private universities which aimed to enhance the successful running and sustainability of the institutions.
Former Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie said universities bring development, maintaining that if we must have qualitative universities education, private universities must be encouraged.’
According to him, unless there is the creation of new states, new state universities cannot be created, saying that the government was hard-pressed in terms of political will and funds to establish more universities.
He added: “Universities bring development and the future of development in this country resides with the universities.
“Go to any state in this country, the establishment of universities bring about an increase in economic activities, new buildings coming up for students accommodation, okada riders for transportation, etc.”
Okojie said countries with huge populations have a good number of universities to cushion their educational needs.
He called for support for those that want to establish private universities. He said private universities make room for innovative and qualitative education.
Sports University, Idumuje-Ugboko, expected to expand rapidly, is among the 12 new private universities that received their provisional licences from the National Universities Commission (NUC) on Thursday following their earlier approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The other new universities are Pen Resource University, Gombe; Al-Ansar University, Maiduguri; Margaret Lawrence University Galilee, Delta State; Khalifa Isiyaku Rabiu University, Kano; Bab Ahmed University, Kano; Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto; Nigerian British University, Asa, Abia State; Peter University, Achina/Onneh, Anambra State; Newgate University, Minna; European University of Nigeria, Duboyi, Abuja and Northwest University, Sokoto. The new universities bring the total number of private universities in Nigeria to 111.
In an earlier interview upon the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed’s announcement of the FEC’s approval of the Sports University, Idumuje-Ugboko on April 6, 2022, Ned Nwoko disclosed to newsmen that he conceived the idea of establishing the Sports University in Nigeria over 23 years ago.
He recalled that as a member of the House of Representatives, he sponsored a bill for its establishment which was not passed. He expressed joy that a dream that started many years back has been actualized.
Nwoko stated that the university would be a veritable ground for the selection of sportsmen and women that will represent Nigeria at local, continental and intercontinental competitions.
He said, “It took me a long time to get to this point, but I can speak confidently about this now. I went to China, Russia, America, and England and came back to put all the sports courses together.
“I realized years ago when I was in Britain studying that Nigeria was behind in virtually every sphere – internationally speaking. When we have Olympic sports, how well do we do as a country? Almost zero performance.
“Nigeria is now 62 years from independence with only two Olympic gold medals, one from Chioma Ajunwa and the other from the Kanu Nwankwo-led Atlanta 1996 football squad…
Beyond Africa, Michael Phelps of the US has 21 gold medals alone. These were achieved because of practice. But Nigeria will wait for a month or two for the Olympics before going to the camp. And I ask, what can you achieve in a month against someone who has been practising for years or all his life?
“Therefore, I said to myself this is what we don’t have in Nigeria and Africa. So I thought I should do something like this to allow the young ones to do what they love doing.”
Ned Nwoko said, “The Sports University is modelled to pursue the advancement of learning in specialised areas of sports development including management as well as to conduct specialised professional coaching courses, and research to advance various breakthroughs in sports.”
He decried the misconception that sports hamper a child’s dedication to academic programmes. While other higher institutions do sports as leisure, he promised that the Sports University would “take sports in the academic world as a lifestyle to build careers that will enable individuals to make their mark and edge their exploits in accounts of history”.
According to Ned Nwoko, Nigeria and Africa need a sports university because it will make the young ones physically fit and more dedicated to their education.
In addition to the pursuit of sports and academic programmes, Sports University, Idumuje-Ugboko is expected to be a source of employment for thousands of residents of the host community, its neighbourhood and beyond.
On the level of readiness for the take-off of the institution, Ned Nwoko said the university will take off in the 2022/2023 academic session to offer professional first-degree certificates in sports-related fields and other academic programmes. It will also run a secondary school for the grooming of sporting talents for the university.
According to the aerial pictures of the proposed university he released, the school project has a three-floor academic building, top-scale art library, medical centres, Olympic-size swimming pools, golf course, and standard pitches for football, hockey, basketball and baseball among numerous others.
According to the design, the varsity also has a five-star hotel, administrative blocks, lecture hall, canteen, and junior staff quarters.