The vice chancellor used the occasion to seek improved peaceful relationship with the host communities, especially Ugbomro and Iteregbi, which have been at daggers drawn with the university over the location name- Effurun, gazetted in the act establishing it.
The Ugbomro community in whose immediate vicinity the school is sited wants all the signposts relating to the university’s location to bear Ugbomro. The move has equally not gone down well with the Iteregbi community, which also hosts the university.
Both communities, it was learnt, are always at “war” over who gets what from the university.
It was, therefore, not surprising that on the morning of the matriculation ceremony, some youths from the communities mutilated the large signboard of the university by using paint to delete Effurun replacing it with their community’s name. The matriculation ceremony went on successfully without any interruption, however.
This development might have caused the vice chancellor to openly declare: “I’m operating in a slightly hostile environment,” even as he cited the defacing of the university’s signboard. He appealed to host communities to give peace a chance.
The VC also condemned the increasing crime rate in the environment, disclosing that recently a student was shot by some criminals from the communities in the process of trying to disposes him of his laptop and handset. The student was discharged last week from hospital.
In his matriculation speech, Etu-Efeotor welcomed the new students to “the first Petroleum University in Africa and fifth in the world.”
He said: “You must not forget the primary responsibility of being in the university is to acquire knowledge and expertise not just to shape your destiny, but the well-being of our society. Therefore, you must prove at the end of your stay in this university that you have been refined in character and learning to affect the society.”
He hinted that the first set of workshops and laboratories for the College of Technology were ready for use, and that work would soon commence on the workshops and laboratories of the Petroleum Engineering department, which would be named after the late Senator Pius Ewherido, who helped source funds for the project.
The VC admonished the students to avoid the pit-falls of the learning environment such as examination malpractice, cultism, indiscipline, non-committal attitude to studies and sexual abuse, which he warned go with a price of unwanted pregnancy or veneral diseases including Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS). (Guardian)