By Uzoh Egboh
The Abia state University (ABSU) has had a checkered history of sorts since its inception.
This great institution of learning began humbly as Imo State University in the ramshackle structures of Madonna high school Etiti Mbano during the Sam Mbakwe administration. Then the military government of Gen. Ike Nwachukwu gave it a boost when it was relocated to this permanent site, in the lush valleys of Uturu, beautifully and magnificently enveloped by the rolling green hills of Okigwe.
Partly because of the incomparable environment of this school and the uniqueness of its mission as the bakery for the production of the goods for which Imo state of yore was famous – education being the Imo industry, and partly for the vision of the then Sam Mbakwe administration to avoid railroading a lofty idea such as this in the rocky waters of jejune local nationalism that will atomize the vision, there existed no poly campus structure from the onset.
When Abia state was created in 1991 there was a stalemate as to the life of this institution because continuing as Imo State University was the simplistic way to carry on. The combined efforts of the Uzo Egbo Administration in Isuikwuato Local Government Area, the Uturu elders and some illustrious members of academic staff of the University such as Prof M.A. Mkpa, Prof Mrs Kanno, Dr Jachimike Adiele fought and proved that this institution was situated in the depths of Uturu land and as such its true identity was not in question. Thus Abia state University was born. Our Imo brothers then fled home when we began to prove the boundary between Uturu and their brothers that formed Okigwe town far into the heart of the city.
ABSU continued to grow in form and content and ought to have been so as to attain its full -potential, until someone began to conceive the sinister balkanization of this nature-endowed environment with its ambience of splendor that no University in this country can rival. One thought that the now evident miscalculations that birthed the debacle called Umuahia Campus of ABSU, would have been lesson enough. Totally obscure and, lacking in academic ambience, it is almost an eyesore. The proprietary paternalism that is befuddling this administration into leaving Abia State University comatose and of course, moribund is, at best, ill conceived.
Umuahia has two great Federal Institutions –The Michael Okpara University of Agriculture and The Crop Research Institute. Umuahia has no need for a poorly funded ramshackle and epileptic campus of the great ABSU. Now someone is at it again. Now as before, for myopic political calculations, probably occasioned by the Uche Ogah/Okezie Ikpeazu governorship imbroglio, an attempt is being made to further atomize ABSU, by removing some vital faculties to some remote location in Umuahia and Aba. That Dr. Uche Ogah is from Uturu is not a valid reason to punish Uturu by removing a greater part of academic Faculties in ABSU from Uturu more so now that Abia State Government cannot pay workers’ salary not to talk of setting up infrastructures needed for the take-off of such faculties in a new location.
The best thing this government should do for Umuahia and Aba people is to greatly improve on the decaying infrastructure at Umuahia instead of stretching it to the limit and to keep Aba growing as the commercial city that it is respectively. Let this government rebuild and renew the soul of those great cities — healing the long festering injury of colossal marginalization and neglect of past administration. Aba already has her fair share of academic institutions, both private and public.
A government that cannot pay its staff wages will not find the required funds to embark on the luxury of a multi-campus structure for University whose only complaint is the dearth of subventions and grants from the already gasping Abia State government.
Any attempt to balkanize ABSU now or in the future will only stifle life out of her, rob her of her intelligentsia, dismember her of the fabrics that organically hold her faculties together, emasculate her ebullient student population, put a knife on the vision and mission of this great citadel, and generally throw wet blanket on things, as it were.
The generality of Abians, the lsuikwuato district, and the Uturu people abhor this move. It is evil. It is petty. It is an affront on the collective sensibilities of all well meaning Abians. It is politics driven to a ridiculous nadir. Abia is already perched on a precipice. ABSU must not die! This petty political gerrymandering will only culminate in eviscerating an already hemorrhaging institution.
Let wisdom prevail over Politics.
– Uzoh Egboh writes from Umuahia