Onjeh Commends Gov. Alia for Reforms in Benue Tertiary Institutions, Congratulates Fr. Omnoke as Provost, COE Oju

Comrade Daniel Onjeh, APC candidate for the Benue South Senatorial District in the 2023 General Elections, has commended His Excellency, the Very Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, the Executive Governor of Benue State, for appointing Very Rev. Fr. Sylvester Onmoke as the provost of the College of Education Oju, Benue State.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Comrade Onjeh also congratulated the new provost on his appointment and urged Governor Alia to disregard those who are trying to discredit him over the bold steps he had taken to revitalize state-owned institutions of higher learning.

Comrade Onjeh urged the governor not to stop and throw stones each time feral dogs bark at him on the road to rebuild Benue State, while urging him to continue the good work he is doing in the state and remain focused. As regards the pending appointment of a new rector for the Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, Onjeh urged Governor Alia to go ahead, choose, and appoint the most qualified person who has demonstrated the right character, pedigree, and experience to move the institution forward.

Earlier, in a bid to revitalize Benue State-owned tertiary institutions of learning, Governor Alia had embarked on reforms of state-owned institutions, which necessitated the removal from office of heads of some of these institutions including the former rector of the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Dr. Nathaniel Agbo Oche. This reformation process, Comrade Onjeh noted, irked sworn foes of the governor, notably Senator Abba Moro (senator representing Benue South and Senate Minority Leader) and his co travelers, who have seen this as an opportunity to pillory the governor as it is their wont.

“In fact, one of Sen. Moro’s associates in the National Assembly has advanced the argument that Fr. Alia removed Dr. Oche as Rector of BENPOLY, with the intent of appointing someone from Tiv land as his replacement. I see that as another cheap propaganda intended to incite the good people of Benue South against Governor Alia. I therefore urge the people to kindly disregard that lousy claim, as Fr. Alia has no intention of taking the position of Rector of BENPOLY to Tiv land.

“While they try to underestimate Fr. Alia’s intelligence and capacity, he has repeatedly proven to them that he is very competent, versatile and sensitive to political dynamics and formations. Therefore, I wish to assure the people that Fr. Alia will look inward and source for someone who is very qualified from Benue South, to appoint as the substantive rector of BENPOLY,” stated Onjeh.

Comrade Daniel Onjeh himself has for long been a keen advocate for the revamping of Nigeria’s educational sector. He served as the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) between 2002 and 2003, and is credited with organizing the largest peaceful protest of students in the nation’s capital, Abuja, in 2003, to draw global attention to the challenges of education in Nigeria, while prompting the relevant authorities to expeditiously step-up action in proferring solutions to the challenges.

While commending Governor Alia for his resoluteness in taking the far-reaching decision of transforming the state’s tertiary institutions, Comrade Onjeh emphasized that this transformation will ensure that more qualified, capable, and professional hands run Benue State-owned institutions of higher learning. This will improve their productivity and accelerate the development of skilled manpower for the state. “That is what Governor Alia is trying to do,” Comrade Onjeh stated. “His goal is to empower the institutions to actualize and realize their core mandates.” That, Onjeh maintained, is the main essence of establishing these institutions.

Another reason for embarking on this transformation, Onjeh averred, is the need to sanitize the academic environment in Benue State. “All of these things led the governor to adhere to the recommendations of the visitation panel to these institutions.These recommendations require the execution of measures that would increase the capacity and productivity of the institutions, deepen research, and facilitate the cross-fertilization of knowledge between the institutions and other institutions within and outside the country” stated Onjeh.

Comrade Onjeh insisted that reputable institutions of higher learning in and outside the country will not find those owned by Benue State worthy of partnership unless they strictly adhere to professionalism and are productive in terms of quality delivery in teaching, research, and other services.

Furthermore, Comrade Onjeh noted that being an academic himself, Governor Alia understands the importance of education to the general and overall development of a society. “That is why he is trying to strengthen the institutions to provide a serene environment for learning and research,” Comrade Onjeh asserted.

Comrade Onjeh added that Governor Alia’s appointment of Very Rev. Fr. Silvester Onmoke as the provost of the College of Education, Oju, is akin to putting a round peg in a round hole, noting that Rev. Omnoke has served as a lecturer at the institution for several years. “Usually, people who have been part and parcel of a particular system always aspire to make the system better, so when given the opportunity to serve at the helm of affairs, it’s all their good visions, thoughts and wishes for the institution that they begin to implement. Therefore, Rev. Fr. Onmoke’s appointment is a very welcome development,” stated Onjeh.

The former Chairman, Governing Board of PRODA, Enugu, further noted that Fr. Omnoke has long been an advocate for quality education in Nigeria. He recalled that as the National President of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests’ Association (NCDPA), Fr. Omnoke had led the association to champion the cause for free, functional and qualitative education up to secondary school level, while calling on the government to equip lecturers and shun nepotism and sentiments in appointments to state-owned educational institutions.

“We commend the governor for taking this bold step to advance the cause of state-owned institutions. We encourage Governor Alia to ignore Senator Abba Moro and his co-travellers. It is clear that their recent vociferous repining about the ouster of Dr. Oche is an extension of their coordinated assault on the governor,” stated Onjeh.

Attacking the governor on the issue of the Benue State Polytechnic, Comrade Onjeh observed, is not part of Senator Moro and his gang’s legislative functions. “This is a state-owned institution, and we have members of the Benue State House of Assembly. If there are any challenges, these members are the ones who should take it up with the governor, with proffer genuine arguments, and convince the public.” But Abba Moro and his gang, Comrade Onjeh noted, are always searching for the slightest opportunity to latch onto to attack the governor. Their unwarranted attacks, Onjeh observed, is a complete derailment in focus. “They are not supposed to attack the governor on this issue. Doing so shows that they have a vested interest in the institution. After all, it is the sole discretion of Governor Alia to determine what is best for any of the state-owned educational institutions,” read the statement.

Comrade Onjeh stated that when the stewardship of a LGA was taken away from Sen. Moro’s sphere of malignant influence, and he was for the very first time left without power over the affairs of the local politics in the LGA, he felt empty. In reaction, the senator ran to the floor of the NASS and raised an ill-conceived Motion, which he tried to dress up in the toga of interest of the entirety of Nigeria. Nigerians, Comrade Onjeh stated, saw through that charade, adding that attacking Governor Alia’s reform of Benue State-owned tertiary institutions is one of Senator Moro’s attempts to hoodwink the public, but he can rest assured he’s moving against the tide.

Comrade Onjeh observed that rumours making the rounds suggest that Senator Moro might have influenced the appointment of the ousted rector of the Benue State Polytechnic. That might explain why the senator is desperate in his bid to make it another unholy crusade of calumny against Governor Alia, while hiding behind the cloak of insisting on adherence to processes and procedures in the removal of his lackey.

“In any case, Dr. Oche’s appointment did not follow the due process and was made in bad faith, because Governor Ortom waited for almost two years after the exit of the previous rector before appointing Dr. Oche barely days to the end of his 8-year tenure as Benue Governor,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh noted further that a cursory look look at the pattern of the attacks on Governor Alia, will reveal that the current vitriol spat at him because of his educational reforms, follows the same pattern as those hurled at him in the past, and the spittle were spewed from the ulcerated mouths of the same people; those who never see any good in the governor’s efforts towards bringing Benue out of the woods. “Every knowledge-loving person knows that Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, is not living up to expectations. It needs to be revitalized and improved. Institutions of the same age as the polytechnic across the country are far more advanced than it,” alleged Onjeh.

Comrade Onjeh insisted that Governor Alia’s reformation of the state’s higher institutions is in line with the governor’s vision and manifesto for the Benue education sector. He urged the people of Benue State, especially those who oppose the governor, to bury their personal and vested interests and consider the overall interest of the state, and Benue South in particular, to advance the cause of state-owned institutions. Onjeh urged Governor Alia to ignore calls to reinstate the ousted rector of Benue State Polytechnic, and go ahead and appoint a rector that is capable. This, according to Comrade Onjeh, is within the governor’s powers, especially when the institution has no governing council. Onjeh affirmed that the governor has the power to appoint whomsoever he wants in the absence of the polytechnic’s governing council. “Even if there was a governing council,” Comrade Onjeh argued, “it will recommend three names to the commissioner of education, who will forward them to the governor to pick one. But in the absence of the board, it is strictly within the powers of the governor to make the appointment,” stated Onjeh.

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