In the Niger Delta university, they have started rationing light. By 4 O’clock everyday, the generator is shut down because the university is not connected to the national grid. And it is becoming extremely expensive to run the generator to power the school
Dr. Beke Sese, a clergyman and senior lecturer with the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University is not excited about the apparent sorry state of the university at the moment.
The problem of power supply confronting the university and the acute shortage of indigenous manpower including academic staff to effectively nurture the institution to greatness among other problems seem to have combined to make him shudder.
The former lecturer with the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt believes that the university is seriously lagging behind in terms of infrastructural facilities because, as he puts it, conscious effort has not been made by the Bayelsa State Government to squarely address the problems bedevilling the institution.
Sese who expressed views concerning the university amidst other sundry issues in this encounter with The Tide On Sunday in port Harcourt called on the Bayelsa State Government to give priority attention to the infrastructural development of the institution to enable it take its proper place in the comity of universities in the country.
He said the problem of power supply had posed a great challenge to the institution as it was yet to be connected to the national grid, stressing that the rationing of electricity in the university at the moment as a result of the enormous resources often spent by the authorities to service its standby generator as well as powering it has seemingly not been helping matters.
Apart from the problem of power supply, Sese who is also the Assistant General Overseer of Holy Rock Church in Port Harcourt said the bulk of the staff, contract staff and people on sabbatical was not helping the university to truly advance its frontiers of development in all ramifications, almost a decade after its establishment.
According to him, conscious effort should be made by the state government to change this trend, preferably by sponsoring young and brilliant indigenes of the state who are eager to pursue Ph.D programmes abroad.
His words: “The Niger Delta University still has a long way to go. With the light years away, the Bayelsa State Government needs to give more attention to the university because right now, there is this problem of power. In Nigeria, we don’t have power but people still try to manage. In the Niger Delta university, they have started rationing light. By 4 O’clock everyday, the generator is shut down because the university is not connected to the national grid. And it is becoming extremely expensive to run the generator to power the school.”
Sese who bagged his Doctorate Degree at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England in 2005 further identified the inability of the state government to recruit young qualified indigenes of the state to contribute to the development of the institution as another source of concern to him.
Hear him: “In terms of staff, we also have a very interesting situation in the university. I am not sure that there is any other university in the country that has as many retired professors, people on sabbatical and contract staff like in the university. Ordinarily, contract staff are not supposed to be Deans or Heads of Departments. But due to the dearth of staff, we have such persons trying to help build the university. If you look at it, it is a good intention to bring people with experience to come and help build the university. But while you are doing that on one hand, there must be conscious effort to bring in younger ones to empower the indigenes.”
The dark complexioned lecturer, however, lamented that such conscious effort has been lacking on the part of the state government.
“I can’t see such conscious effort today to produce young Ph.D like some of us that were sent abroad in 2001 to get Ph.Ds. I got my Ph.D in Environmental Toxicology in the United Kingdom under the sponsorship of the Bayelsa State Government led through the HIPACT programme.” We expect more persons to go abroad every year and come back so that we can take over from these older generations that are all over the place. “Yes, we enjoy the experience the older people are bringing into the university but there must be conscious effort to allow the young ones to grow and occupy those spaces on a permanent basis,” Sese intoned.
Explaining why he transferred his services from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology to the Niger Delta University, he said he personally returned to the country after his Ph.D programme as a way of showing gratitude to the Bayelsa State Government.
His words: “I went to the United Kingdom through this HIPACT programme in 2001. HIPACT then was in partnership with the Bayelsa State Government. The university then was newly established by Governor D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha. The government looked around for some bright young Bayelsa indigenes from anywhere. Some of us indicated our interest.” I was very determined to do a Ph.D outside this country so that I can be exposed to some of the state of the art technologies. Bayelsa State Government offered me the opportunity. As at then, Bayelsa State Government was still paying its staff at RSUST. It was a bit hot, to be honest with you because I was employed in RSUST. Because of some politics, Bayelsa was paying its staff at RSUST. By the time I finished my Ph. D. in 2005, all Bayelsa staff in RSUST had been transferred to the Niger Delta university to help to develop the place. It was not a bad idea. Anybody can complain but I can’t complain because Bayelsa State Government did a wonderful job for me by sponsoring my Ph.D. I owe the government and that was why in spite of all the temptations, I was very determined from the day I left this country to come back and say thank you to the state government.”
Commenting on the Niger Delta crisis, particularly against the backdrop of the recent setting up of five committees by the Federal government for the development of the region, the university teacher said the current problem of the region was not committees or panels but the lack of sincerity on the part of the Federal Government to develop the area infrastructurally.
According to him, the Federal Government was supposed to have taken advantage of the relative peace currently existing in the area to commence the massive development of the region instead of taking recourse to committees which reports he said might not be implemented at the end of the day.
Hear him: “What we want to see is bulldozers going into the creeks. We want to see bridges being constructed. We want to see companies located in Niger Delta and creating job opportunities for the people. We want to see government going out there to clean up the environment. We are fed up with this idea of setting up of committees. The government is hardly sincere about the development of the area.”
Sese further stated that the recent blowing up of a pipeline in the region by the movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in spite of the amnesty granted to ex-militants by the Federal Government was a danger signal that was capable of spurring the government into action.
“Amnesty, for all intents and purposes, seems to have gone smoothly. Arms had been surrendered. But mind you, just recently, I heard that MEND blew up a pipeline because it felt that the poor health of the president is delaying the peace process. So, that is a signal that there are still arms in the Niger Delta. For this little period of respite, it is an opportunity for the Federal Government to quickly move in and start developing the area,” he declared.
Adding his voice to the on-going debate on the appropriateness or otherwise of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to relinquish power and hand over to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan because of his poor health, the university teacher said what mattered in this circumstance was the provisions of the country’s constitution and not the opinions of Nigerians on the issue.
His words: “The President’s health is a very burning issue right now in the country. The President for now, is temporarily incapacitated. But it is not a matter of my opinion or anybody’s opinion. Right now, we are running a country that has a constitution. If the Constitution cannot take care of a situation like this, then, the country is in trouble.”
On how he successfully combines his university job and his ministerial assignment as a man of God, Sese had this to say: “Combining the two is really hectic because inadvertently, it sort of makes me read less than 100 per cent. But the job I am doing at the university is a full time job, while my ministerial assignment also requires me to give full time attention which I am unable to give at the moment. The truth is that I attend my lectures at the university regularly. I hardly have time to rest because I don’t have the authority to neglect my job. That is where I am paid. The leadership of the church is also quite understanding of the situation, and there is no way I can turn my back to any of them. It gives me a lot of pleasure combining the two.
On how he got the calling and spiritual inspiration as a man of God, he explained that he got the inspiration during his childhood when his parents discovered that he had the gift of clairvoyance.