Founder and Pro-Chancellor of PAMO University of Medical Sciences, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, has disclosed how he embarked on the journey that culminated in the establishment of Nigeria’s first private medical university.
Dr. Odili, a foremost medical practitioner and former governor of Rivers State, said a chance meeting with a ‘stranger’ in December 2016, while waiting for a delayed flight, started the whole process. The stranger happened to be the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed.
Both men were meeting him for the first time. Prof. Rasheed told Odili, proprietor of the famous PAMO Clinics, Port Harcourt, that despite the dearth of medical doctors in Nigeria, there was no private university in the country dedicated to medicine and asked him to think about it.
Relating the story last Saturday at the official inauguration of PAMO University, Odili said that from there he took up the gauntlet and started preparations towards the university, which came to fruition within a year, apparently because the building and other infrastructures were in place. The NUC Executive Secretary, who graced the occasion, said that by so doing, Odili had set a record in the history of the establishment of private universities, taking just nine months from conception to delivery.
Tracing the history of the university, Odili said in his speech during the formal inauguration on Saturday: “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’ programmes.
“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.”
Dr. Odili said that with 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),” he said.
The PUMS Pro-Chancellor said that, to achieve the set goals the university will put a few measures in place:
*All students must be selected on merit.
*All students must be resident in campus.
*No student cars will be allowed on campus.
*Students will not be free to stroll in and out of campus at will.
*Visitors will not be allowed to stroll in and out of campus at will.
*There will be dress code for lectures and official functions, for both staff and students.
*There will be zero tolerance for cultism and related vices for both staff and students. We solicit the cooperation of all parents and guardians to ensure full compliance as there will be no compromises.
*There will be full scholarship for 6 qualified INDIGENT students, orphans, every year from any part of Nigeria.
*The school authorities would be encouraged to establish linkages in Nigeria and abroad, with established and reputable universities.
“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,” Dr. Odili said.
News Express reports that the PAMO University Board of Trustees comprises former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (rtd); Dr. Peter Odili; Justice Umar Abdullahi, a former President of Court of Appeal; Justice Olufunke Adekeye, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court; Senator Abu Ibrahim, an All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator from Katsina State; and Mr Peter Odili Jnr.
Source News Express