• Ekanem Ibokessien

Ritman University Shines at National Assembly Dialogue


Ritman University commits itself to investing in the minds of students and developing their social skills. The Dialogue Session with Students of Nigerian Universities at the National Assembly was an opportunity for such education.

George Obot, a 100 level student of Economics at Ritman University represented his school, making vital contributions and expressing deep understanding during debates. His university had prepared him mentally for the programme.

The dialogue, an initiative of the Yakubu Dogara-led House of Representatives is aimed at deepening students understanding of the democratic and legislative process while attempting to bridge the disconnect students have with the system. Its core objectives include exposing students to legislative practice and procedure; improving public trust in the legislative arm of government; and enabling students to meet and interact with their elected representatives in the National Assembly.

George took off from his campus in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State for Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja. Others in attendance with him were over a hundred and forty students from universities across Nigeria. They were welcomed into the National Assembly on 9th May, 2016 by Speaker Yakubu Dogara. They also met the President’s Wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, who – together with wives of governors – was at the National Assembly to meet with the Committee on Internally Displaced Persons.

The Ritman University representative at the Dialogue made salient contributions on matters of importance. He asked Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara what his leadership was doing regarding scholarships for Nigerian students. To this, Speaker Dogara disclosed that plans are underway to set up a zero-interest study loan which will be repaid when the benefiting persons graduate and get employed.

George Obot also asked why the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) does not cater for private universities which all contribute to this fund through tax payment. The Speaker responded that this happens largely because Nigeria had no private universities when the law setting up TETFUND was made. He assured that something will be done to remedy the situation.

Another area of concern to George Obot of Ritman University was the lacuna in Nigeria’s manufacturing industry caused by inability to commercialize inventions coming from Nigerian tertiary institutions. The response given to his concern was that government   is working to reverse this trend.

During the Technical Session, Obot suggested strategic approaches to making education a yardstick for economic development through a variety of methods, including entrepreneurial education as core value. One of the resource persons in his response agreed with Obot and further expanded the idea to include vocational training.

Participants were taken round to see chambers and segments of the assembly. They were told that contrary to popular notion, there was no “Upper” or “Lower” house in the national legislature as both play equally important and complementary roles.

Another incentive for participation at the National Assembly  dialogue  was the issuance  of  Green Cards to students  with  which they could buy goods  at  cheap rates  from  sellers  who  subscribe to the  scheme. Participants were offered these discount cards which are meant to help make life easier for students and corps members.

There was a debate session tagged “Agriculture and not Industry is the Major Mitigating Factor to Unemployment in Nigeria”.   The Ritman University representative did an excellent performance on the proposing side. His oratory and salient contributions earned Ritman an invitation to a debate in one of the top-rated universities.

Edidiong Esara, 18/05/2016

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