Umbrella body of Ijaws worldwide, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and other civil society groups have called on the Federal Government to site the proposed Federal University of Medical Sciences and Biomedical Technology designated for the South-South region in Bayelsa State.
The call by the groups followed the recent National Assembly passage of the Bill for the establishment of Federal University of Medical Sciences and Biomedical Technology across the six geo-political zones in the country.
The groups, who made the call during a joint advocacy visit to the Bayelsa Medical University, BMU, campus in Yenagoa, the state capital, urged the Federal Government to take over the BMU facilities already on the ground for the proposed institution, rather than starting the building of the institution from the scratch.
The groups, who were led by the Second National Vice President of INC, Chief Nengi James; the Head of Bayelsa State Office of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Comrade Alagoa Morris; and Comrade David West of the Civil Liberties Organisation, appealed to the state government, State House of Assembly, and members of the National Assembly from the state to fast track the process to ensure that the opportunity of having the federal institution in the state is realised.
James said, “We are on an advocacy visit based on the recently passed bill for every geopolitical zone to have a federal university of medical sciences and biomedical technology and we felt that Bayelsa State already has a befitting place to be used for that of the South-South which is the Bayelsa Medical University.
“We believe that if this place is taken over by the federal government for the proposed institution it will benefit the state, South-South region and Federal Government because already the facilities here are world-class, like the diagnostic centre, mother and child hospital, laboratories, classrooms, hostels, offices and even a conducive environment for academics and research.
“This is not a political issue and therefore we are calling on the state governor, state assembly, and national assembly members from Bayelsa State to work together to make this project a reality because it will create employment, increase access to medical education, improved our health institutions and promote biomedical technology and research.”
Also speaking, Morris said, “I think that Bayelsa State is already set for such a project to take off because we have the infrastructure and qualified personnel and I think the federal government will stand to gain if they take over the Bayelsa Medical University instead of going to acquire a fresh land and develop from the scratch.
“Bayelsa is even more critical because in 2014 after visiting the oil-polluted sites the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, described Bayelsa State as the most polluted, so we have paid the price both in terms of being the first place oil was discovered in commercial quantity and even suffering the negative impacts of oil industry induced pollution and we need not only be compensated but ensure we have the facilities adequately to take care of our health and other environmental challenges.”
Also speaking, West said, “The Bayelsa Medical University being taken over by the federal government is sound and good, they every facility, so the state assembly should re-amend the law establishing the State medical University to align with the federal government law with respect to the National Universities Committee, NUC. The state governor should whole heartedly accept the opportunity that is just on the door step”.
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