BEING A FULL SPEECH OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR INNOCENT A.O. UJAH, mni AT THE GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY OF THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF HEALTH SCIENCES OTUKPO (FUHSO) HOLDING AT AKWETE AKPA BY PRESIDENT MOHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR, ON 18TH JULY, 2022
I feel extremely delighted and privileged to present my welcome address to Mr. President on a historic visit to the Federal University of Health Sciences and to the traditional headquarter of Benue South Senatorial District on the occasion of the Ground Breaking ceremony of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo. This occasion means a lot not only to us as a University, but also to the Idoma community and indeed to Benue State as a whole on the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony at the permanent site of the University at Akwete-Akpa in Otukpo Local Government of Benue state.
For us in the University and its community, today is a special day and we want to appreciate God for the gift of life, his support, guidance and for ensuring that today has come to be. The groundbreaking ceremony to be performed by Mr. President today brings joy to us in Benue South Senatorial District and Benue State as a whole because the establishment of this University adds to the educational and health development of this part of the country, for which we are Immensely grateful.
The brief history of the Federal University of Health Sciences, this first specialized medical university to be established by the Federal Government of Nigeria, indicates that it was first established on 20th May 2015 among six (6) other Universities under the leadership of the then President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR. The announcement brought immensurable joy and relief to the people of Idoma worldwide. This joy was short-lived as all the six Universities, including the Federal University of Health Sciences, were suspended by the current administration.
However, our President, President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR graciously restored the University on 6th June, 2019, the announcement was received with thunderous jubilation and all-night celebrations and with thanks to the almighty God for answering our prayers and for seeing our dream come true.
The Project Implementation Committee (PIC) was immediately set up by the Federal Ministry of Education to identify the take-off, which happily the Youth Centre at Otada-Otukpo was approved and the rehabilitation and restructuring of the building commenced almost immediately.
However, it was not until 12th May, 2020 that the Principal Officers and Council members of the University were appointed by the Federal Government. So effectively, University commenced its operation in May 2020.
VISION: To be a world-class institution for learning, scientific research, and innovation for developing the next generation of healthcare providers.
Mission: To build capacity of healthcare professionals through integrated medical education, professional skills, and research providing access to high-quality healthcare services.
Our Core Values: Integrity, Transparency, Dedication, Accountability, Partnership, Innovation, and Equity (IT-DAPIE).
I will go ahead to give a summary of the operation of the University since May 2020.
A Study tour was undertaken to the first Medical University in Nigeria, The University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, Ondo State as well as Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti which is a model of modern Medical Colleges in Nigeria. We worked very hard to get the approval of nine programmes of Medicine and Surgery, Computer Science, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Biostatistics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology by the National Universities Commissions (NUC) for which we remain eternally grateful to Professor Abubakar Rasheed, mni, the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC).
Again, through dint of hard work and commitment by the management of the University, commenced the recruitment of both academic and non-academic staff, equipped Chemistry, Biology/Microbiology, Chemistry/Biochemistry laboratories, and FUHSO got enlisted on the JAMB portal and fully integrated into its Central Admission Processing System (CAPS), through the committed support of the JAMB Registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede. This no doubt facilitated the1st year admission within one year of our operation as a University. I am glad to report, His Excellency that the students numbering about 200 had completed first session following their 2nd semester examinations and have now gone on vacation.
Through the support of TetFund, our infrastructure is just adequate to start with respect to office spaces, classrooms, lecture theaters, laboratories, furniture, etc. as well as facilities for co-curricular activities. It is also worthy of note that through the support of TetFund, the University is strengthening its Staff Development Policy. We are completing arrangements to send our young lecturers (Graduate Assistants and Assistant Lecturers) for further training, as we are very determined to build the capacity of our workforce if we attain our desired status of a world-class university. This is being facilitated following our being listed as a beneficiary of TetFund Intervention fund. Because we are well aware that a University is known, recognized, and ranked due to its impact of research outcomes. It is in this light that FUHSO is featuring prominently in the contest for TetFund National Research Fund (NRF), while we also benefit from the Institutional Based Research of the Fund.
It is clearly obvious that our Academics, within this short period of the existence of the University have demonstrated palpable evidence of focus, commitment and determination in teaching, research and community service. Through our strong proposal, our University was approved and awarded the Needs Assessment fund by the Federal Ministry of Education for the construction of a multi-purpose research complex which is currently under construction and it is progressing well. It is our expectation that the building will be completed and fully furnished within the next few months.
We are delighted to report that following our compelling proposal, TetFund has designated FUHSO as Centre of Excellence for Infectious Diseases for the study of Lassa Fever, Ebola, COVID-19 and other emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases. There is no doubt that the high-level advocacy being embarked by the management of the University is yielding expected outcomes. Currently, we are engaging in the partnership and collaborative efforts with other Institutions within Nigeria as well as some global Institutions such as Emory University, Atlanta, and Northwestern University, Chicago all in USA
At this juncture, we wish to express our deep appreciation to the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Dr. Samuel Ortom for ceding the Otukpo General Hospital as the take-off site for the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo for training clinical medical Students, in addition to providing specialized medical treatment and health research. We are glad that with support of the Committee of Vice-chancellors of the Nigerian Universities’ Secretariat, we are developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Medical Mobility Programme (MMP) with some selected Universities in Egypt. The MOU when signed will include the training of staff in the area of Basic Medical Sciences of Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochemistry, strategically focusing on our MBBS staff in compliance with the policy of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), as well as developing new approaches to Medical Education Curriculum (MEC)
The groundbreaking ceremony today will herald the construction and furnishing of the following: (a) the Administrative/Senate Building, (b) the College of Medicine building, and (c) the Principal Officers’ quarters. It is expected that work will be completed within periods ranging from 18-24months. Hence it is our expectation that movement to the permanent site of the University will commence before the end of 2023. It is pleasing to note that our University is one of the Universities benefitting from the TETFUND high-impact intervention fund worth three billion Naira (N3billion). I wish to use this opportunity to on behalf of the University community and people of Benue State, thank President Mohammadu Buhari, GCFR for his gracious approval of the fund to our University. We assure him that the fund will be judiciously utilized.
I am happy to report, His Excellency, that the University enjoys an excellent and cordial relationship with the immediate host communities of Otada, Akwete-Akpa, and the entire Benue South Senatorial District. The University has remained peaceful and safe. It is our prayers and desires that this cordial relationship is sustained and further improved upon for a conducive environment for teaching, learning, and research.
In conclusion, I wish to assure His Excellency that the Council, management, staff, and students are committed to building a world-class University of our dream. This is our promise!
Thank you for being the reason for our celebration.
Professor I.A.O. Ujah, mni
15th July 2022