Academic activities are likely to start soonest at the newly established Federal University of Health Sciences at Oturkpo, Benue state, recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the meantime, a temporary site located at Otada village, a suburb of Oturkpo metropolis, has been procured which will take the initial students of the university and a sum of N5 billion as a take-off grant has been reportedly approved for the new university.
A large piece of naked land as a permanent site whose compensation has been fully paid located along Otobi/Akpa road, a distance of not more than 5km from the temporary site, has also been acquired.
The above perspectives are necessary to underscore the fact that enough work and thinking has gone into the establishment of the university before a Bill was sent to the National Assembly where senators in bipartisan spirit speedily approved the proposal which President Buhari graciously approved without delay.
It is important to stress the action of Mr. President in the establishment of the university because a Bill remains a paper for what it is worth unless assented to by Mr. President in order for anything to happen.
In order for the university to function several factors must come into play. These include the appointment of principal officers of the university – the vice chancellor, registrar, bursar, the university librarian and the governing council of the university; this is the point at which the federal government must come in.
While the efforts of those who initially conceived the idea of the university must be commended, the federal government must at this stage be interested and fully approve the appointments of the administrators of the institution in order to avoid a situation of being misled to take a precipitate action in approving wrong candidates who may be presented to the federal authority by those with ulterior motives.
The Federal University of Health Sciences, Oturkpo is the first of its kind in the country and therefore requires meticulous and careful planning in order to get the best candidates both to run the institution and the initial intake into the university.
This is why even though it is desirable for the institution to take off as fast as possible, care must be taken all nuances are considered before the university should take off.
The position of the vice chancellor, for example, should be given to the person who has a track record of excellent performance both in character and academic credentials and luckily for the institution enough candidates who are indigenes from the geographical area which the university is located abound.
Since the university is a specialised institution credentials of those who may apply as students should be carefully and studiously scrutinised by the university authority before admissions are given in order to set a standard from the onset.
Many informed and knowledgeable people are of the opinion that the federal government should concede the position of the vice chancellor to an indigene of the place where the university is located, if nothing but to task the appointee of the huge responsibility placed on his shoulder to nurse the institution to an enviable position to the satisfaction of not only the federal government that appointed him but also the Idoma nation in whose locale the university is located but humanity at large.
It must also be pointed out that in the building of the university stringent and careful planning should be put into consideration in order to avoid the deficits which many older universities currently suffer in the area of lecture halls, students hostels and the possibility of reaching an agreement for private/public partnership in the building of students hostels.
At a time of dwindling government financial resources those to be appointed should be able to give in details of how they can maximise the use of the large piece of land at the new site in order to generate internal revenue through agriculture and entrepreneurship.
The new Federal University of Health Sciences at Oturkpo should not just be an additional institution of higher learning but should on the day of its take off strive to aim at academic excellence in which its graduating students in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, microbiology, biochemistry and all other health sciences related courses should be able to compete favourably with products of other universities in those specified fields not only in Nigeria but all over the world.
This should be the mission and vision of the new university.
Adams, a public affairs analyst, writes from Oturkpo, Benue state