Delta State University, under the administration of Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, is witnessing phenomenal growth such that it ranks among the best in the country today in terms of infrastructure, facilities, teaching and learning
Chukwuma Sunday (Jr) is a 400-Level student of Zoology at the Delta State University, Abraka campus. As a final year student, he has been around long enough to experience the different stages of development in the university. His candid opinion is that “the facilities are okay. In terms of structures on ground, everything is going on fine. I see a lot of development going on; we keep seeing changes every day.” Sunday’s assessment indeed succinctly captures the situation at the three campuses of Delta State University in Abraka, Oleh and Anwai, Asaba. His views are corroborated by that of Perpetual Martins, a student of Microbiology, who noted that “the system is still developing and they are really working hard to build a very good university.” Evidently, at DELSU it is still work in progress to build a world-class university and that is why since the coming of Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, the three campuses have become massive construction sites with work going on simultaneously on several housing and road construction projects.
Eric Arubayi, vice-chancellor, VC, of the almost 23-year-old university, gave credit to the governor for the massive development going on in the university. “The Delta State Government has done a lot. Whatever we generate internally (school fees and others), they allow us to use it in the development of the institution. And apart from that, they pay our salaries and wages 100 per cent, running into millions,” Arubayi told the magazine. And evidence of how the monies are being utilised dots the landscape of the three campuses. Different categories of gigantic lecture theatres – 1000-capacity, 750-capacity, 500- and 300-capacity – have either been completed or nearing completion, and tastefully furnished and equipped. Hostel facilities for students and office complexes for lecturers are also being provided while internal roads are being tarred. A state-of-the-art Senate Chambers which also has provision for members of the Governing Council has also been completed, all from internally generated revenue.
Taking the magazine round the various projects, the VC said in spite of allowing him to retain the school fees and other internally generated revenue, the government has not washed its hands off the infrastructural development in the school. One of them was the ongoing massive seven-storey administrative building in Site Three of the Abraka campus where work is going on in earnest. According to Arubayi, “You see the Asaba campus, the library there, renovated and built by the state government; hostels for females, hostels for males and all that. You go to Oleh campus, the Engineering Workshops, big workshops, three of them, massive, built by the state government; the administrative block, built by the state government. The Faculty of Law building there is ongoing. And we have very, very impressive lecture theatres. These are all the things the state government has been able to do, apart from providing some other things that are too numerous to start listing.”
But at the university, it is not all about physical infrastructure. Significant attention is also being paid to quality of teaching and learning. The students attested to the quality of teaching and the commitment of lecturers. Igho Onuavwhgo, a 200-Level Pharmacy student, told the magazine that “in terms of teaching, the lecturers are putting in their best… Like in our Faculty, they just brought some pharmaceutical machinery to help give us a practical understanding of what we are being taught. The state government, to a large extent, has tried a lot. It shows that they really want the youngsters in the state to have good education and I commend them for this.”
Sunday also confirmed that “the lecturers are always there,” stressing that “they have your time.” Hope Eghagha, commissioner for Higher Education, explained the yardstick to measure quality of education in Nigeria: “One is through accreditation, response and reaction of students when they are in school, and then, their job opportunities when they graduate.” According to him, “If you look at all these items, you will see our students are doing very well and you find Delta State students in responsible positions across the country.” The commissioner says the government takes accreditation of courses seriously, noting that “it was under this administration that our medical school was granted full medical school status. We achieved that in 2010, so we have produced two sets of medical doctors.”
The VC was on the same page with Eghagha on the issue. “In terms of accreditation, we have come a long way. When I took over as vice-chancellor of this university about four years ago, we had about 68 per cent of our programmes fully accredited. But right now, since my ascension to this position, we can boast that we now have 93 per cent full accreditation. And my administration and I want a situation where we want to drive it up to a 100 per cent by the grace of God before our exit in another 10 months. So, we are doing well; we are trying, both professionally and academically,” he noted.
Discipline, among staff and students, from available facts, has also enhanced high academic standard in the university which has, as at 2012, produced 63,993 graduates. Eghagha said the government is tough on the issue of discipline in its tertiary institutions, especially as it affects “when students come late for lectures, when students don’t come at all, and when lecturers don’t come for lectures or when they come late.” According to the commissioner, “All of these are issues that matter. It is not just a question of lecturers telling students you must go for lectures; you must also go for lectures. When you want to cancel a lecture, you must tell students ahead of time. If you are a lecturer, you don’t sell handouts because the sale of handouts is banned on our campuses.”
Arubayi says an environment conducive to learning has also been provided for the students with availability of instructional facilities and equipment for practical classes. Unlike in some public universities where basic facilities for teaching are lacking, the VC said, “In our Department of Computer Science, we have a computer laboratory with several functioning computers. We even have an ICT centre with over 300 state-of-the-art computers, with stand-by generator. We also have e-learning library with well over 100 PCs where students can get into, print whatever they want and be able to get knowledge and information. And in Site 3, courtesy of Tertiary Education Fund, we are building electronic examination centre, the type you see in Ilorin and Ibadan that can take about 1,000 students, especially those large classes like post-UME, pre-degree examinations.” The examination centre parades several state-of-the-art machines including a 4112 Zerox multi-function machine used in setting questions and marking answer sheets. It can also be used to design certificates. The magazine learnt that the cost of one is about N15 million.
The university is also striving towards likely self-sustenance, operating a lot of businesses to shore up its internally generated revenue. For example, its DELSU Investment Limited has as subsidiaries a state-of-the-art water processing plant, a petrol filling station called Delsu Oils, and also does construction works, among other services. Arubayi was proud to announce that with proceeds from these ventures and the school fees, the management has been able to do a lot of things outside construction of hostel facilities, office complexes and lecture theatres. The university was able to acquire two fire-fighting vehicles, with building to accommodate the offices under construction near the main gate. The water processing plant commissioned by Governor Uduaghan on March 12, 2012 was also built from internally generated revenues, while several power generating sets ranging from 1000 KVA to 250 KVA were also acquired.
But in spite of the quality of teaching and learning, Arubayi disclosed that “Delta State has the lowest tuition among state universities in the country… Our tuition for a year is just N23,000. And in hostels, N10,000 per session. So, you can see what the state government really does for us; a lot of augmentation to be able to meet some of these challenges.” And the reason for this is not far-fetched. Comrade Ovuozuorie Macaulay, secretary to the state government, says though the burden of providing good education is much. “We feel that is the much we can give to the next generation,” he noted.
But as far as DELSU is concerned, if the present tempo of development is sustained by the next administration, both at the state and university levels, in no distant time, it will be rubbing shoulders with some highly rated universities in the world.