By NBF News

Abia community stops varsity expansion
From CHUKS ONUOHA, Umuahia
Wednesday, March 3 , 2010
The management of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture [MOAU], Umudike, Abia State, has blamed their lack of expansion on some of their host communities for refusing them access to some portions of the land given to them by the government. It was for this reason that the university has been concentrating its development projects in some areas of the land, leaving a large portion of it untouched.

This was disclosed by the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ikenna Onyido in an interactive session with newsmen to mark his fourth years in office.

He said that efforts so far made by the institution to resolve the matter with some of the communities have not yielded positive result.

Prof. Onyido explained that some of the communities are claiming that compensation has not been paid to them, while some claimed that they were short-changed. This had affected the university master plan.

He explained that the management of the institution which was worried by the attitude of these communities reported the matter to the Abia State government, adding that even though the government had intervened by warning the communities not to do anything on the land until the boundary is properly demarcated, they have refused to heed to the warning of the Government.

Land, he said is a major constraint towards the development of the university. 'Land mapped out for the university is large but we are operating in a small place. Some communities have not allowed us in. This was dated back to the 1990s. Some of the communities said that they were not paid compensation, while others claimed that they were short-changed.'

He said further that the master plan is being compromised.' As university of agriculture, this limits us to what we ought to be doing. A good numbers of the communities have shown readiness to reconcile but there are the recalcitrant ones. But we have involved the Abia state government because we want to ensure that violence is not involved,' Oyido said.

The Vice Chancellor said that if the university achieves its mandate, the rural economy of Abia state will be transformed, stressing the need for universities of agriculture to face their mandate as they will help to make the nation's economy grow.

He announced that the university has 27 prograames fully accredited by the national Universities Commission [NUC], while its computer engineering programme has interim accreditation.

He also announced that the students population of the university has grown to 6000 for regular students and over 2000 for part-time students.