Peter University, Achina/Onneh, has received a provisional licence to begin academic activities by the National Universities Commission, NUC, reports Jude Michael.The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, disclosed this and described it as an epoch-making event which called for celebration for the Catholic Dioceses of Awka and Ekwulobia, who own the institution.The provisional clearance, Trinitas gathered, made Peter University the 108th private University in Nigeria.Bishop Ezeokafor said the University was ready in terms of structure and man power to commence academic activities in the month of October.The presentation ceremony which was conducted by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, took place at Idris Abdulkadir Auditorium, National Universities Commission, Maitama, Abuja, on Thursday 12 May 2022.Twelve private universities were given their provisional licences during the ceremony and they include Peter University Achina/Onneh, Anambra State; Pen Resource University, Gombe, Gombe State; Al-Ansar University Maiduguri, Borno State; Margaret Lawrence University, Galilee, Delta State; Khalifa Isiyaku Rabiu University, Kano, Kano State; and Sports University, Idumuje, Ugboko, Delta State.Others are Baba Ahmed University, Kano, Kano State; Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto, Sokoto State; Nigerian British University, Asa, Abia State; Newgate University, Minna, Niger State. European University of Nigeria, Duboyi, Abuja, FCT; and Northwest University, Sokoto, Sokoto State.With this development, the number of private universities in Nigeria has grown to one hundred and eleven, while the total number of universities in the country has now shot up to two hundred and fifteen.Bishop Ezeokafor said the university would be a conventional one and would organize its teachings and research through faculties and departments. The prelate who admitted not being oblivious of the expectations of people that the university would be accessible to people, especially the poor, said the Church would work out modalities where at least one person from each parish would have full or partial scholarship to study in the university.He said that private universities were not to be compared to federal or state universities in terms of the cost per student, explaining that the Federal Government pumped in a lot of money into the running of the federal universities. The states, he continued, also put in money but not as much as the Federal Government.‘This is the reason state universities cost much more than federal universities. Private universities, on the other hand, do not receive any subventions from the government,’ Bishop Ezeokafor explained.On the quality of education expected of the new university, the Bishop said that Peter University was conceived to provide quality tertiary education in Arts, Science and Technology.Recalling the motivation behind the establishment of the university, the prelate said that Peter University was set up not to make money, but to make people.‘If the diocese had wanted to make money, we would have taken part of the money invested in the building of the university to venture into one industry to make money. But the Church in the diocese wanted to make people,’ he said, noting that it was why the Church ventured into building a new university from the scratch.He said that all the principal offices, including academic and non-academic staff, were currently being worked out for the appointment of requisite officers. He explained that the institution was not included in the current Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB schedule, but that admission was expected to commence in October.‘Peter University is a dream come true for many of us and I will not fail to thank all our benefactors,’ he said.The Bishop singled out the former Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese and now the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye for appreciation and recalled the energy, push, physical presence, contacts, and many other areas the then Auxiliary Bishop had worked tirelessly to see to the fruition of the diocesan dream for a new university. He thanked various personnel, clergy and lay people, who worked closely with him, including the presbyterium of the then Diocese of Awka, as well as various groups and individuals within and outside the diocese whose sacrifices, he observed, brought about the current joyful occasion.He thanked Bishop Peter Okpaleke, the Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia, for the efforts he was making to fulfil his diocesan part to what was being done towards the realization of the dream that was Peter University.With the creation of Ekwulobia Diocese, Peter University now belongs to the two Dioceses of Awka and Ekwulobia.Over four billion Naira has been expended on the construction of the modern structures sited over the hectares of land in Achina/Onneh.The university has as its mentor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, with its Board of Trustees as Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor; Prof. Chukwuma C. Soludo; Mr. Peter Obi; Sen. Uche Ekwunife; Dr J.K. Okoye; Ikenna Okafor; Engr. Edward Dijeh; and Chief Joseph Ezeokafor.Earlier in his address of welcome at the presentation of licence ceremony in Abuja, the Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, congratulated the owners of the newly approved universities and promised to lend his support to them whenever the need arose.The minister stated that the licences were approved by the Federal Executive Council on the 6th of April 2022. He allayed the fears of those with reservations regarding the growing number of private universities in Nigeria, noting that with a population of over two hundred million, Nigeria needed even more universities to bolster the economic fortunes of the country through education.For his part, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC) congratulated the new universities and noted that Nigeria still needed more universities because of the high demand for education in the country.‘Nigeria is still grossly deficient in access to the university education sub-sector which is the highest producer of the skilled level manpower required to activate and sustain the socio-economic transformation of the country,’ he noted, assuring the proprietors of the newly approved private universities of the NUC’s continued support and co-operation.Rev. Fr Prof. Emmanuel Umezinwa, the PIC (Planning and Implementation Committee) chairman, said with the giving of licence by the NUC, the coast had been cleared for the resumption of academic activities. He explained that what was left between now and the resumption of academic activities were the resource verification by the relevant organ of the NUC, hiring of workers, equipment of the academic block, and so on. These were the things, he said, one could not do unless the licence was given.He said that the resource verification would be available any time the proprietors of the university invited them. Fr Umezinwa further explained that the university would take off with three faculties, twelve departments and twenty-one programmes. The three faculties, according to the PIC chairman, are Faculty of Science and Computing (five departments); Faculty of Arts, Social and Management Sciences (five departments); and Faculty of Health Sciences (two departments).Among those that attended the event were: Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, the Bishop of Awka, who received the operational licence of Peter University, Achina/Onneh. He was accompanied by Rev. Fr. Professor Emmanuel Umezinwa (PIC Chairman); Rev. Fr. Augustine Okochi (the National Catholic Education Secretary); Prof. Julius Okogie (former Executive Secretary, NUC); Sir J. Okoye; Sir Daniel Okekenta; among others.

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