Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State during the maiden matriculation ceremony of the State University of Medical and Applied Sciences (SUMAS) Igbo-Eno, Enugu State, on Saturday, addressed the pioneer students in his capacity as founder and pioneer Visitor to the medical university.
Speaking at the first SUMAS academic ceremony marking the planting of her first seeds, Governor Ugwuanyi disclosed that his administration conceived the founding of the budding specialised university to provide more opportunities for all desiring youths in the country especially the youthful citizens of Enugu State to gain training in their chosen professional disciplines.
The founder of SUMAS pointed out the challenges that numerous applicants in Enugu State face gaining admission into tertiary institutions especially for professional and competitive courses such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Allied Health Sciences, Engineering, Law, etc.
Thousands of well qualified candidates, Governor Ugwuanyi said, are left stranded without admission in the country bedeviled by socio-economic challenges and attendant implications.
The Governor revealed that it was against the backdrop of acute shortage of health personnel in the state and across the country as well as the consequential effects of brain drain in view of the fact that the few available are unceasingly leaving the country in their numbers that his administration decided to establish another state-owned university with a specialised brief on professional disciplines.
“As the records indicate, every year, thousands of candidates apply to study Medicine and Allied Health Sciences in the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) respectively but a total of less than one thousand are given admission into these programmes in both institutions.
“This leaves several thousands of well qualified candidates stranded without admission. The socio-economic implication of this is better imagined,” the governor said.
Governor Ugwuanyi went down memory lane to eulogise the first President of Nigeria and a foremost nationalist, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (The Great Zik of Africa) and recalled his leadership role, patriotism and selflessness in founding the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, stressing that “the uniqueness of what Zik altruistically did for the nation and particularly for Nsukka by siting the university in Nsukka land remains a godly act, recreating Nsukka as a land and redefining the destinies of her people.
“It brought light into a place where there was darkness. It made Nsukka come into the map of the world when many Nigerian cities of today were hardly known to other Nigerians not to say Africa and beyond.”
Congratulating the “lucky pioneer students” including their parents/sponsors for their landmark and historic achievement of being admitted into the brand-new university, Governor Ugwuanyi added that his administration had invested a lot and had provided all the needed infrastructure for the smooth take off of the university.
According to him: “There are six faculty buildings each with eight to 12 huge classrooms, laboratories and 36 offices. There are also two completed hostels each with 450 bed spaces (one for male and one for female), a medical centre that is well equipped to even provide tertiary medical services, the solar powered streetlights, and a teaching hospital which has reached an advanced stage.
“I have also made adequate provisions to ensure that all the ongoing projects (the teaching hospital, the ICT building, the road network, the perimeter fencing and the main gate are completed. The entire university is provided with multiple numbers of industrial scale boreholes for efficient supply of water.
“In addition, the construction of 33KVA dedicated high voltage powerline from Nru-junction injection sub-station to the university has been approved for the university. This is to ensure steady power supply to the university.”
The founder of SUMAS, therefore, expressed optimism that with the facilities already provided and the crop of management staff chosen, the medical university will grow to be among the top universities in the country.
Governor Ugwuanyi went further to disclose that provisions for sustainable funding of the new university had been made, stating that “this is to put a safe guard against the consequences of producing poorly trained medical and allied personnel to serve the society.”
Ending his address, the founder and pioneer Visitor to SUMAS further said: “Once again, I congratulate our dear matriculants and I urge you to study hard and make good use of the good facilities available in this university to create a bright future for yourselves, our nation and become, in the years coming, great ambassadors of SUMAS.
“In all, just like I handed over the fate of Enugu State into the hands of God on the assumption of office as Governor, on May 29, 2015, as founder and pioneer Visitor to SUMAS, I hand the affairs, growth, development and wellbeing of this university into the hands of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob and the awesome God of David.”
In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor of SUMAS, Prof. James Chukwuma Ogbonna, expressed profound gratitude to Governor Ugwuanyi for his vision and passion for human resource development that led to the establishment of the university.
Ogbonna hinted that the governor’s investment in the medical university will contribute in addressing the acute shortage of manpower in Medical and Allied Health Sciences, as “it has already created employment opportunities for our people, has already engendered a flurry of activities around her immediate community and will definitely contribute in large measure to the socio-economic development of Enugu State.”
Disclosing that the first set of 789 students had been admitted into the 23 programmes approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC), spread into six faculties, the Vice Chancellor congratulated the matriculants, their parents and guardians, and urged the students to exhibit high sense of discipline and seriousness by attending lectures, studying very hard and participating in all the academic activities, etc.
Ogbonna equally appreciated the Governor-elect of the state, Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah who was ably represented at the ceremony by the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Dan Shere, and his Deputy, Barr. Ifeanyi Ossai “for the great interest you have shown in this university, saying: “Your presence today assures us that you share the same dream with His Excellency and that you will continue to support SUMAS to attain greater heights.”
Dignitaries at the colourful event include the Chairman, Project Implementation Committee, SUMAS, Prof. Val. O Ekechukwu; wife of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Christiana Ogbonna, Vice Chancellor of ESUT, Prof. Aloy Okolie; the Vice Chancellor of UNN, Prof. Charles Igwe, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Johnson Urama, Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Enugu, Prof. Malachy Okwueze; the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Dr. David Ugwunta; other members of the State Executive Council (EXCO) and the House of Assembly Member-elect for Igbo-Eze North II Constituency, Hon. Clifford Obe.
Others were the Registrar of SUMAS, Mr. Anselem Onah; the University Librarian, Dr. Mrs. Monica Eze; the Bursar, Dr. Elvis Ozoadibe; his ESUT counterpart, Dr. Augustine Ojeh; the State Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Innocent Ezeoha, the State Chairman of ALGON and Chairman of Udenu LGA, Hon. Solomon Onah, among others.