It is with pride and deep feeling of honour that I assume the position of the pioneer Chancellor of the first ever private medical university in Nigeria. It is indeed a privilege to be part of this history making institution right from the preliminary events leading to its establishment and eventual commencement today.
We have been informed of the distinct areas the University has so far set records. This is thus a clear indication of the resolve of the institution to actualize the tenets of its motto: excellence for the good of all. If the zeal, dedication and commitment that were deployed in the planning stages are employed in running the university, it will, in a very short period of time, become a world class institution worthy of emulation within and outside the country.
Over the last decade, Nigeria has witnessed a phenomenal growth of private universities arising from the inability of public universities to cater for the demand of applicants seeking admission every year. Some have questioned the appropriateness of this growth and have gone ahead to even call for a halt in the establishment of these institutions. But one thing is very clear, with our large population and a significant percentage of it being under 25, the demand for higher education is going to increase in the years ahead.
The inability of our universities to meet up with the increasing demand for placement is more pronounced in the field of medicine and medical related programmes. Recent reports have shown that less than 5% of qualified candidates are able to gain admission into medical programmes in all Nigerian universities. This is further compounded by the inadequate number of physicians in the country and rising emigration of even the few. Nigeria has also witnessed an out flux of students seeking tertiary medical education in neighbouring African countries such as Ghana, Uganda and Sudan, as well as other countries outside the continent. The last medical and dental council of Nigeria examination of foreign trained doctors saw 680 doctors sitting for the examination. These numbers have steadily been on the increase over the years. The sad aspect of this however is the monumental failure rate of the foreign trained doctors in the medical and dental council professional qualifying examination as witnessed in the last examination.
Poor quality medical education has also been the topmost reason for medical tourism outside the country. Billions of naira are spent annually in foreign countries to treat ailments which could have been easily treated in Nigeria if there are adequately qualified doctors in the country.
PAMO University of medical sciences will strive to address all these challenges as it aims to achieve global excellence in terms of teaching, research and community services. The university is set to produce graduates in different fields of medicine who are not only competent in their profession but also entrepreneurial, ICT driven and that are worthy in character and learning.
The enormous contribution of education to the socio-economic and political development of the nation and the role played by the private sector cannot be overemphasized. I will therefore like to call on Government to critically re-examine its role and responsibilities to private educational institutions especially at tertiary level in the country. The Tertiary Education Trust Fund should work out modalities of extending support to privately owned educational institutions as part of its responsibility in financing education in Nigeria.
I further note that the requirements for the establishment of private universities were drawn up in the late 90s. With the revolutionary trend in Information and Communication technology, the world has witnessed great development in the mode of delivery of education and learning at all levels. This is one of many other innovations and development that have impacted on tertiary education worldwide within the last decade. I will therefore call on the National Universities Commission to, as a matter of urgency, review the requirements for the establishment of private universities. Such a review will take cognizance of the nature of mono discipline and city based institutions like PAMO University of Medical Sciences.
I wish to call on States of the Federation, particularly the Rivers State Government, being our ‘host’ Government, to explore ways of supporting the university towards achieving its goals. This call also goes to members of the public, the host community, sister universities, philanthropists and industrialists.
Let me at this point congratulate the promoter of this promising institution, the former executive Governor of Rivers state, a medical practitioner, on this achievement.
I once more express my deep gratitude to my colleagues on the Board of Trustees for finding me worthy to be appointed the pioneer Chancellor of this great university. I assure you of my highest support in whatever ways to ensure that this university achieves its fullest potential.
Thank you and God bless