House Bill HB 1293, also known as Federal University of Technology, Ogoja Bill, 2019 was passed into law by both chambers of the 8th National Assembly.
HB 1293 is a bill that was initiated by Hon. Jarigbe Agom, member representing Ogoja/Yala Federal constituency in the House of Representatives, where it was passed after a motion was moved for its passage by the Majority Leader of the 8th House of Representatives and now Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, before it was transmitted to the Senate.
HB 1293 was sponsored at the Senate by the Majority Leader of the 8th Senate and now President of the 9th Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan.
HB 1293 was first read on May 23, 2019. Second reading was done on May 28, 2019 and it was referred to the committee of the whole. Third reading was also done same day, 28 May, 2019 after consolidation. The bill was then reconsidered and passed; and it is now awaiting Presidential assent.
Once assented to, we will begin to expect a brand new university of technology in the ancient city of Ogoja. This will become the 4th university in Cross River state and the first in Northern Cross River state, besides the CRUTECH satellite campus in Abakpa.
This feat, apart from the fact that it will cut down travel time of northern Cross Riverians who seek education presently in Calabar from 6hrs to zero hrs, it will also lead to enhancement in the standard of living of people within the communities and serve as a stimulus to the rapid growth and development of the area, provided the activities of the school are well guided and monitored.
The proposed university for a start, has the potential to create more than 5000 new direct jobs. It will bring people closer to each other from multi ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Universities are economic engines. They are hotbeds of innovation and entrepreneurship. They can change the face of a city. As major landowners, universities are significant investors in the built environment.
The development of Federal University of Technology Ogoja campus, alone will reshape the Ogoja skyline while providing new civic identities. It will attract talent. Universities have a tremendous ability to attract excellent talent to communities.
The cultural and multi-ethnic diversity among students, staff and researchers that will come, will do more than just boost the economy. It will contribute to the vitality of the university community and help develop a tolerant and inclusive society.
Academic mobility and research collaborations will extend intellectual and cultural interaction and in doing so, help to develop inter community relations. The university, in this sense, will be an essential space for soft diplomacy.
The university will help address some societal challenges that the region has been grappling with. Academic analysis will provide local governments and communities with a robust evidence base, to inform public policy, if leaders are willing to engage.
The school will also come handy with vital services to their surrounding communities that are otherwise scarce, including access to health-care, cultural amenities and even sports facilities. Many universities also have museums, which are open to the public.
Communities that understand have concentrated these opportunities by mushrooming several of these universities, many of which started small, but have grown over time to transform the economies of their local host communities tremendously.
Ogun state for instance has 16 universities. Ondo state has 7. Oyo state has 7. Lagos state also has 7 universities. Even our neighboring Akwa Ibom state, with smaller land size, has 4 universities while Cross River has only three. Yet the future requires that we get more and more.
This feat by Jarigbe is of particular interest to me, against the background of the penchant of our lawmakers to perpetually buy and distribute motor bikes, grinding machines and Tokunbo cars, as empowerment while neglecting the very vital imperative to develop human capital and the knowledge economy which will ultimately create and trickle wealth among our people.
I am impressed with this quality of representation and take-home. I am grateful for this foresight and I wish to tell Jarigbe that posterity will for many generations remember this singular achievement than all the amount of money he will ever share for his constituents.
As you enter the second term honorable, don’t take your eyes off the ball. Continue to hunt for the big kill. We are taking notes. The future is agape and age is on your side.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.