Education in Delta State was in dire need of surgical operation before Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan came into the saddle
Education is the best and most enduring legacy that can be bequeathed to a child is a common saying which underscores the importance of education in human capital development and societal growth. Any investment in education is therefore not just money well spent, but it is a catalyst for advancement in society. This, undoubtedly, had influenced the education policies of Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan as well as being the driving force propelling him to take far-reaching actions into bringing about the unprecedented transformation that the sector is witnessing today. It is indeed the dawn of a new day in the education sector in Delta State. Before 2007 when the destiny of Delta State and Deltans was committed into his hands, the education sector was just recovering from several years of neglect and decadence foisted on it by long years of military rule and perhaps a deficit of commitment by previous administrations until 1999 when things started to pick up.
In 1999, the administration of James Onanefe Ibori, the midwife of the new Delta State, inherited a state in which education, like other sectors, was in shambles. He saw the urgent need to fast-track development in that sector and create access for tertiary education for the teeming youths of the state in dire need of spaces in existing higher institutions in the country which they were being denied them on the altar of discriminatory quota system and the attendant unfavourable cut-off points for admissions. That was how the three state polytechnics at Ogwashi-Uku, Ozoro and Otefe (Oghara) were founded. Primary and secondary schools hitherto closed down by successive military administrations were reopened and new ones established in communities without access to primary and secondary schools. The Delta State University was established by the first civilian governor of the state, Olorogun Felix Ibru with three campuses at Abraka, Oleh and Anwai, Asaba. The state also has two colleges of education, one in Agbor and the other in Warri while it has one College of Physical Education at Mosogar.
But when the baton of leadership was passed on to Uduaghan from Ibori, it was evident that there was a lot more work to be done to revamp the education sector which was apparently in need of intervention to put it on a firm footing to achieve the three cardinal programmes of his administration – Peace and Security, Human Capital Development and Infrastructure Development. At the time, there were about 1,800 schools, primary and secondary, most of them in severely dilapidated condition. The seven years of the Warri war had taken its toll on the finances of the state and development suffered the backlash. Education was therefore not immune from the consequences of the war. Many of the structures were not just in need of rehabilitation, but reconstruction. Facilities needed to be expanded where they existed and provided where they were lacking and dearth of manpower needed to be addressed. The education policy also had to be reviewed for greater impact to meet the demands of the 21st century, while more access needed to be created at the tertiary level to accommodate the youths of the state hungry for knowledge. Delta State University, operating on three campuses, needed to be upgraded to meet international standard.
For Uduaghan, the challenges were enormous but not unconquerable. As a medical doctor, he appreciates the importance of education and more importantly, he possesses the willpower to confront the rot and the decay in the sector and achieve results. Today, he is being celebrated and honoured for his vision, doggedness and towering achievements, not just in education, but in health, road infrastructure and other areas and Delta State is the ultimate beneficiary.