From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) rejected the donation from King David University of Medical Sciences in Uburu, which it called a “Greek offer” from the state’s governor, Dave Nweze Umahi, to the Catholic Church.
The body said if the situation was not handled properly, it could lead to animosity between the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, which had claimed ownership of the new university, and the Catholic Church.
During the episcopal ordination and installation of Peter Nworie Chukwu as 3rd bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki on Thursday August 19, 2021, Ebonyi State Governor David Nweze Umahi announced the handing over from King David University of Medical Sciences, Uburu. to the Conference of Catholic Bishops for what he called “optimal management and academic excellence”.
As stated in a statement made available by his Special Assistant on Media and Advertising, Mr. Francis Nwaze, the Governor said: “The contributions of the church to the educational development of Nigeria are unprecedented and for this I, on behalf of the State wishes to give King David University of Medical Sciences in Uburu to the Nigerian Catholic Bishops Conference to own and operate. “
Reacting Sunday with a declaration signed by its president, Paschal Oluchukwu, the indigenous Ebonyi wondered how a governor had made such a declaration “who is capable not only of pitting the mother church against its sister the Presbyterian church which has been in justice to forcefully challenge the takeover of said property, but also to further overturn the provisions of our existing laws, create chaos and confusion and deepen animosity between the Christian faith even though we still view Ebonyi as a dominated secular state only by the Christian religion.
According to the statement, in the public interest, no law allows a governor to build such a massive edifice with millions of unrecorded public funds and hand it over to a people of special faith in a multi-religious society like the our.
“In addition to the serious violations of the law characterized by the non-adoption of any law allowing the donation of the said institution which was built with public funds, unaudited and unaccounted for by the Ebonyi State House of Assembly – a third arm of government ordinarily who has been massively amputated and totally neglected by the governor, Umahi has shown by this statement that he is just a desperate dealer trying to cover up his suspicious leads by currying favor with the largest and most populous Catholic Church.
“No one, we repeat, no church or organization for that matter should accept such compromised transactions from a governor like Umahi. Because we are certain that his motivations for this particular offer are as unacknowledged as the majority of his relations with the Ebonyi people during his last six years in the saddle as governor Ebonyi ”, the statement read.
Setting out the controversies over said University of Uburu, the statement said: “First of all, the Presbyterian Church had alerted the general public that on Friday, July 12, 2019, it had received a clue that the state exco d’Ebonyi had approved the government’s takeover of the government. Mixed Presbyterian Hospital, Uburu. Also announced the same day on the state broadcast network, the award of contracts for the construction of several building blocks for the Ebonyi State University Hospital on a property that the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria owns. leasehold and developed for 107 years as a Presbyterian. Joint hospital, Uburu.
“We know that Umahi sent a letter seeking approval from the State House of Assembly asking for the state’s takeover and acquisition of the oldest hospital founded by a missionary, Dr. John Hitchcock, this which his lackeys in said branch of government easily granted without any due diligence or investigation, the head of the Presbyterian Church’s Information and Public Affairs Department, Rt. Rev. Nnoke Ibe had, in a detailed press release , accused the governor of the state of having forcibly taken over the hospital for which he still paid rent to family and village donors of the land on which it is located.
“The release, made since July 2020, had asserted without a counterclaim from the government led by Umahi that” The Church is also aware that the eminent domain power of the government confers the power to take the land it needs for public purposes ; but this power is constitutionally subject to procedures which guarantee the rights, privileges and prerogatives of occupants and holders.
While further condemning the governor’s “callous act”, the statement said: “We also have not forgotten that the plan was in fact to acquire and build said institution as the new medical school of the United States. ‘State University.We also know that the Ebonyi State government recently released an outrageous fee scheme ranging from N1 to N3M as annual tuition fees for the institution after approval of its courses. by the NUC and even recruitment announcements Where and how then can the Catholic community finance, maintain and support such an academic institution which could become a monumental waste if not properly funded?
“If Umahi truly loves and wants academic excellence, why did he come up with the above monumental fee scheme in a poor state like ours? Why has he also totally neglected the public education sector in Ebonyi without reasonable subsidies to state-owned primary, secondary and especially tertiary institutions?
“Finally, AESID joins with the rest of the more sane Ebony in gently rejecting the offer and focusing on achieving its spiritual and religious goals for the Church, even though we wish the newly ordained bishop a successful episcopal reign filled with great wisdom to manage the affairs of the Church mother church.
“And for Umahi, he should wait for his days of reckoning with the antitrust agencies for all of his illegal actions, faults and lack of accountability in governance that have made Ebonyi the poverty capital of all of southern Nigeria. “