It is with immense pleasure that we welcome you all to this historic occasion, an occasion that calls for eternal gratitude to God, for celebration, and also for a deep reflection on the state of medical education and medical service in Nigeria.
We wish to welcome His Excellency, the Governor of our dear State, Chief Nyesom Wike, CON GSSR, Your Lordships, Justices of the Supreme Court and other Justices here present, Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members of the House of Representatives and State Assemblies, Ministers and Heads of Agencies at Federal and State levels, members of the Rivers State Executive Council, and Traditional Rulers within and outside Rivers State.
We wish to particularly single out for mention the Honourable Minister of Education and the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC). Today’s event wouldn’t have been possible without their active support and encouragement which at occasions have gone far beyond the call of duty. The roles played by these two gentlemen have further strengthened our hope for greater, united and prosperous Nigeria. The members of PAMO University of Medical Sciences (PUMS) family will forever hold you in very high esteem.
Your Excellencies, Your Lordships, Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are witnessing history being made on three fronts. Firstly, PAMO University of Medical Sciences is the first private university of medical sciences to be established in Nigeria. Secondly, it has set a record in being the university that took the shortest time to plan and establish. It took only eleven months from submission of our “letter of intent” to the granting of an operating licence by the Federal Government. Thirdly, PAMO University of Medical Sciences is the first private university of any type to be established in Rivers State. Some States in the federation have as many as sixteen private universities!
Today’s event further marks the birth of the product of the convergence of two Histories.
One – The history of “preparedness”.
Two – The story of “opportunity”.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen this historic and landmark event of the commencement of the first Private University of Medical Sciences in Nigeria is the outcome of two providential occurrences. First, in 1989 we purchased this 21 acres land from two Elelenwo families for the building of a ginger processing factory and an infusion manufacturing plant (we were in ginger and cassava farming then). But God who sees the end from the beginning did not let that happen.
Then over the years this land transited to a Centre for the training of traditional birth attendants, further migrated to a skills acquisition and youth/teenage pregnancy reorientation and rehabilitation centre through the Providential inspirational motivation of Justice Mary Odili (JSC) and her associates under the operations of The Adolescent Project (TAP). This venue has also played host to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and ‘Youths With a Mission’ programs.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen on 19th December, 2016, Almighty God showed His hand through a fortuitous meeting with a total ‘stranger’ at the Abuja International Airport, courtesy of a 4 hours delayed flight to Enugu. That ‘stranger’ introduced himself, a conversation ensued and that became the starting point of a Providential journey that has led to the birth of Nigeria’s first Private University of Medical Sciences. Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen- that ‘stranger’, that instrument of God’s will and wheel, who walked to a man who had never met him before, introduced himself and began a conversation, that stranger is Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC). Prof. Rasheed has shown, through this project and the processes leading to this event, that there are still in this country, true patriots devoid of the primordial, divisive and selfish tendencies that have kept us down as a people over the years. Prof. Rasheed is a Northern Muslim. He is not in the medical profession, we had never met before and yet he walked up to us feeling that there was the possibility that we could contribute to the growth and development of the medical education sector. He neither considered ethnicity, tribe, religion or geography. He wanted what could bring about improvement for Nigeria and Nigerians in medical education using his position as an opportune channel to do so without any nepotic or self-serving sentiments. Prof., you are a rare breed. God will uphold you and posterity will extol you for the encouragement and unfettered guidance we enjoyed from your staff throughout the process leading to the licensing. Our country will be a better place if people like you are given the opportunity to serve in executive national positions. “God provided the land in 1989 and presented Prof. Abubakar Rasheed in 2016”.
Distinguished Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, that this confluence of preparedness and opportunity has yielded the positive outcome is as a result of the focus clarity and determined leadership of the Chairman and Members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) who seized the opportunity and are today the ‘Proprietors’ of this University. Their unquantifiable support and contributions facilitated the setting up of a most efficient Planning and Implementation Committee (PIC) led by Prof. Linus Ajabor and peopled by a team of professionals who rose to the very tasking challenge of delivering the fastest processing of a private university in the history of the NUC, without cutting any corners. I believe it is appropriate at this juncture to pay tribute to the competent, very detailed and assiduous teams of the Standing Committee for Private Universities (SCOPU) and the “Directorate for Establishment of Private Universities” (DEPU) for their thoroughness and fastidious insistence on compliance to the rules and regulations guiding the process. We must commend Prof. A. Essien and Director A. Hamza and their teams for subjecting us to their gruesome tests with pleasantness that helped to reduce the stress of the drilling. We honestly pray that other government agencies will work like the NUC. Thank you, management and staff of NUC.
Our special gratitude goes to Mr. President, the Vice-President and members of the Federal Executive Council particularly the Honourable Minister of Education for graciously granting us the provisional licence to operate as a private university. ith the commencement of the University now settled, the Chancellor and Members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) have commenced the setting up of an effective and hands-on Governing Council that will pilot the affairs of the University, through the Principal Officers. Competent and disciplined intellectuals are being assembled to teach our students, carefully selected on merit. This is the combination that we believe will give us the expected result of producing graduates that will make a difference in knowledge, character and attitude. Graduates that will ‘stand out’ in excellence and be the new faces of medical services – proud products of PAMO University of Medical Sciences (PUMS).
The Board of Trustees, Governing Council, Senate, staff and students alone cannot achieve this objective. We need the cooperation and partnership of the parents, guardians, sponsors, the community, Government and above all God.
To achieve our set goal PUMS will put a few measures in place:
Working together we are confident that God that started this journey in 1989 and brought us to this glorious day, will grant us our prayer of positively contributing to the improvement of medical education and healthcare delivery in our country and the West African sub-region.
Medical education in Nigeria is currently facing the challenges of access, quality and relevance. This is compounded by the inadequate number of medical and health professionals practicing in the country. The country currently has only about 35% of her requirement for Medical practitioners. This gloomy picture is worsened by the fact that less than 5% of QUALIFIED applicants can be admitted into degree programmes in medical and health sciences in all universities every year, in the country on account of limited spaces. It is thus glaringly clear that PAMO University of Medical Sciences could not have come at a better time. The licensing of the university and its eventual take off calls for the appointment of distinguished Nigerians into key offices of the institution to run its affairs at all levels. The foremost of such office is that of the Chancellor and there is no better person to occupy this pinnacle position in the university than the former Head of State, General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar GCFR. His resolute pursuit of peace, unwavering belief in dialogue, and conviction to not only do things right, but to do the right things with integrity, have endeared him to people at home and abroad. General Abdulsalami Abubakar GCFR may not have planned to be Head of State and Commander-in-Chief but when Providence thrust power on him he recognized the hand of God. Because he knew God he did not play “God”, as Head of State, instead he displayed the “fear of God” by trying to do the right things. He left office when he said he would, voluntarily, in spite of pressures for him to stay on. Today he stands out as a most respected and distinguished elder state man and the face of national peace and unity- a truly detribalized leader of our time.
Sir, PUMS is privileged to be bestowed with the honour of having Your Excellency as the founding Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Chancellor deservedly because you have been involved from conception, through the pregnancy, labour, delivery and today the presentation and outing ceremony. Your silent and invisible roles can not be quantified.
Your Excellency, posterity will continue to extol you for all your contributions not only to the “Nigerian project” which remains “work in progress” but also for your indelible role in the making of the history of PUMS. The Proprietors led by Your Excellency are determined to ensure that the vision and mission of founding an institution that will make a difference and set a new tone in medical education and healthcare delivery are achieved and sustained. The products of PUMS will be different and they will stand out in the disciplined way they will apply their knowledge in the care of their patients. They will be humane and empathic and treat their patients with dignity, by the Grace of God.
Your Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, ‘Mr. Projects’, ‘Mr. Action’ – the irrepressible positive ‘Dynamo’. How do we describe your role in this project? Your Excellency, you are first and foremost a double host because this is happening in your State and this also happens to be your Home Local Government. A very significant part of the journey of the history of this university happened while you were the Local Government Council Chairman of this Local Government. By the time the final lap of the race to this historic day started, Your Excellency had become the Governor of the State. Surely the hand of God is on you Your Excellency.You are clearly what can be described as the original “Stake Holder” and you have demonstrated by your supportive actions in unquantifiable as well as invaluable terms, that you are indeed a true and sincere stakeholder. Without your supportive roles this journey would have been more ‘back breaking’ for the proprietors. We thank you in a very special way for the road construction works that is on-going but which has already transformed the approach to this serene campus.We assure Your Excellency on behalf of the PUMS family that we shall partner with you and the Rivers State Government in breaking this new ground in medical education and responding to the medical yearnings of our State and country. This legacy will be recorded as one of the great epochs that happened under ‘Governor Nyesom Wike’s’ administration, that has in less than 3 years recorded unprecedented developmental achievements in the history of Rivers State.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen we thank you most warmly for accepting our invitation to personally attend this event and thus be witnesses to History. May God bless you all for your kind attention.