The Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Professor Francis Eze has decried the activities of land speculators and encroachment among the host communities and land grabber as the reoccurring issue militating against the full development of the institution’s master plan especially as it affects the realisation of its medical school.
He said the institution had no doubt brought huge development to the host communities in terms of social change, education, capacity building, etc, adding that as an agent of change, the transformation of the host communities and their inhabitants since the relocation of the university to its permanent site in 1993, should not be disregarded.
Eze, whose five-year tenure would be coming to an end in about two months’ time, denied selling any land belonging to the university to anybody as alleged by host communities, stressing that, “our original position is that FUTO does not have the power to cede any land to anybody.”
According to him, FUTO has a master plan and the location for the medical school is at the Avu axis. We have started putting up structures for a medical school and that is my involvement as vice chancellor. I will not allow FUTO land to be taken away by people. There are many needs for the medical school and we are eager to pursue it to its full realisation.
On the issue of the federal government approving about 1,000 hectares to be ceded to the host communities, the VC said it was a proposal initiated by the university’s governing council which is yet to be concluded, adding that it is currently being deliberated by a committee involving the Imo State government through the state’s Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Physical Planning, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, as well as FUTO to study the proposal and report back to the government.
“It is unfortunate that anybody from Imo State is against our expansion. The Governor and the Minister of State for Education are trying to assist us realise our goals. What the host communities’ attorney, Chief Sam Anokam is driving at, is his personal interest. It is the pressure from the host communities that the governing council proposed a certain part of the land to host communities.
The VC enumerated areas his administration had made in assisting the host communities including, providing cassava processing plant, construction of their roads, giving employment to them, among others.
He also described as false the allegation that FUTO VC refused to give out land to host communities as ordered by the federal government.
“There is nothing like that. It is like a battle between darkness and light. Yes, I have interest and that interest is to develop FUTO and project it as a place of excellence. We have not returned any inch of FUTO land to anybody. There is no committee involving the institution’s director of works and its physical planning counterpart, to give out any land to host communities.
“The land we have is not even enough, but the governing council proposed to cede about 1,000 hectares out of 4,500 hectares of FUTO land back to the host communities. That is only a proposal and not finality. No land has been given out already. We want the committee set up by the state government on the issue to conclude on the governing council’s proposal and as soon as that committee is through with her work, it will submit her report to the Governor who will eventually contact the federal government to implement on the issue,” he stated.