The recent proposed plan by Barrister Okiogbero Jonathan Edhebru to set up National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) study centres in two strategic Isoko communities in Oleh and Ozoro are welcome development. The evergreen Emede born lawyer and chartered accountant who hails from Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State knows vividly the importance of education to Isoko nation. It was the same Barrister Okiogbero who also proposed the plan to establish Isoko University in Isokoland which still in negotiation with the National Universities commission (NUC). Both Oleh and Ozoro are located in Isoko south and Isoko north areas of Delta state.
Bringing the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) study centres to Isoko region will help to reduce adult illiteracy in the land. The process of setting up a National University is not like as a study centre which Isoko University will soon be approved by the NUC. Isoko University has met its requirements in all ramifications. The NOUN will also attract massive investments by investors in the region. Over the years, only the young minds go to school while the old people are meant to go to farming and fishing. and nothing else. With the globalization and cross-fertilization of knowledge and competence, many old Isoko people are now embracing educational system. In 2001 when the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) kicked off its academic programmes and help the working class and retiring citizens who could not attend the normal conventional universities due to financial incapacitation. Even the then former President Olusegun Obasanjo graduated with a diploma in theology after his meritorious service for three consecutive years as a military and civilian president. Though the Act of the 1983 that established the National Open University of Nigeria in July 1983 and was suspended in 1984 after more than 23years, the National Open University came into existence in the administration of then President Olusegun Obasanjo. The National Open University of Nigeria study centres is not for only Isoko people but every veritable citizens of Delta State that intend to acquire more educational advancement in life.
Barrister Okiogbero Jonathan meant well for Isoko indigenes to acquire basic education irrespective of their ages in all ramifications. It is only Ozoro Polytechnic, Delta State University Abraka and College of Education that are sited in Isoko communities. Ozoro and Oleh are good sites to establish study centres of NOUN with no qualms. Barrister Okiogbero Jonathan has meant all the basic requirements to open study centres of NOUN in Isokoland. 75 percent of Isoko people within the ranges of 45-70 are stark illiterates who believes that only the younger generation can bring development to Isoko region.
Consequently, some knowledgeable Isoko people used to set up adult classes to train our parents on how to read and write very well but that has disappeared into the thin air. Some Isoko people have seen setting up Isoko language schools in major cities of Nigeria. Even some Isoko people have written highly intelligent books on Isoko for young Isoko people to know the language. Politics in Isoko is more pronounced than education in the region. The adult classes actually increased the density of parents knowledge on Isoko language. Though some institutions still teach Isoko language to our little kids and others. Knowledge derives at old age is not a waste but for the betterment of a new Nigeria. The NOUN is located in six geo-political zones of the country and 27 study centres. It is recognized by the federal government. The benefits of NOUN is that it does not deprive someone his or her career in life. NOUN academic activities is done online which invariably tells on every aging persons to be equipped with computer knowledge. Both admission of students, filling of course forms and examination are done online. Although the NOUN academic calendar is slow compared to the conventional universities.
It is unfortunate that the so-called bigwig politicians have abysmally failed to provide for aging Isoko people which acquiring education is not realistic to them. Some regions are greater than others as a result of educational civilization in such region. No region grows faster without education. If all Isoko wealthy men and women can have the like minds of Barrister Okiogbero to establish higher institutions in Isokoland, then Isoko nation will be sought after in the nearest future. The Vice Chancellor Professor Olugbero Jegede needed to be commended for allowing NOUN to have their study centres in Isoko. This NOUN study centres will also help our new and old Isoko lecturers to display their intellectual prowess on the students . Every lecturer whether Isoko or not but qualified can apply to NOUN study centres when full academic commence next year in Isoko. The NOUN is open to all indigenes of Delta State and others.
The only higher institution that has full operation is the Ozoro polytechnic while others are annex campuses. It is a pity that the newly federal universities being established by President Goodluck Jonathan did not extend to Isoko nation. Isoko people cannot be taken to the cleaners just like that.Over the years the Isoko region has been marginalized and neglected by powers that be. It is because of the minority factor that is militating against the region over the years. NOUN is meant to bring institutional development to Isokoland.
Finally, Barrister Okiogbero Jonathan needed to be commended for his courageous effort of bringing citadel of learning to Isoko region in spite of the spate of kidnappings in Delta state. Both Governor Uduaghan of Delta state and President Goodluck Jonathan must help Barrister Jonathan to realize his amiable vision and dreams in Isokoland. Other prominent Isoko people like Okipthe Solomon, Frank Egbodo, Abel Ubeku, Benjamin Essien and others must support the development strides of Okiogbero and nothing else.By Godday Odidi,
Public Affairs Analyst.