Monday, 17 November 2014

Landowners paid N100m  compensation for new King David University Otukpo!

As a step towards actualising his mission to make education an integral part of all around him, Senate President David Mark is set to berth a university in his home state of Benue.

To actualise the dream, the Senate President has already acquired some hectares of land for the proposed King David University, in Otukpo, Benue State.

The university, a multipurpose ivory tower, will accommodate wide and varied interests. So far, hundreds of community members in Asa III, Otobi and Otukpo have been paid at least N100 million compensation for the land and economic trees found on the site of the proposed university.

With the compensation issue finally sorted, the traditional ruler of the ancient town of Otukpo, His royal Majesty, John Enyimonye (OON), expressed appreciation to Senator Mark and ad­mitted at a handing-over ceremony “this move has opened new vistas and windows of opportunities for the citizens to acquire knowledge and skills to enable them have a dignified living.”

The traditional ruler also noted that besides infrastructural development and employment op­portunities the proposed University would bring to the community, it would also ease the pressure and tension of students seeking admission to realize their ambitions in life.

For his love for Education, Senator Mark in 2008 built and donated a multi- million naira complex to house the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Otukpo Study Center, a project that was commissioned by the then Vice President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Coordinator of the project, Mr. Ahubi Egli Johnson, said the proposed university would soon start operation, adding that all the necessary logistics, legal, finance and administration have been sorted out for the higher institution to take off in earnest.

Johnson confirmed that “all community mem­bers whose land were acquired for the project have been paid and transfer of ownership documents signed.”

Regardless, just a couple of months ago, Senator Mark attracted the establishment of College of Medical Sciences to his Benue South Constituency. A component of which includes the establishment of Teaching Hospital, departments of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Laboratory Sciences as a campus of the University of Agricul­ture, Markurdi.

Long before he came up with the idea of establishing a university in his home state, since 2005, the Senate President instituted what could be termed his pet project, the David Mark scholar­ship Scheme (DMSS) to among other things as­sist in the education of citizens especially indigent students from his Benue South senatorial district of the state.

Senator Mark actually initiated the project as a vehicle to drive home his love and passion for education. He believes that the greatest legacy a people or nation can bequeath to succeeding gen­erations is education; the bedrock of development in any society.

He equally believes education can “correct all societal ills including but not limited to violence, avarice, corruption, terrorism or kidnapping. A well-educated man craves for a better society for all to live in peace and harmony.”

The DMSS has now transformed into a David Mark Scholarship Foundation (DMSF ) which awards scholarships to students annually. The condition to qualify for the scholarship is clear and unambiguous; you must be a student, certified by the institution’s Head of Department and of course, a photocopy of the admission letter.

In the beginning, beneficiaries got a token of N5,000 annually, but the gesture has been sig­nificantly increased from N5,000 to N50,000 per student for those on partial scholarship. Those on full scholarship get tuition fees, accommodation, books and upkeep allowances every month.

For now, there are five categories of beneficia­ries which cuts across the three senatorial districts in the state. They are: Students of tertiary institu­tions: Recipients in this category are drawn from universities, polytechnics, Colleges of Education, and nursing schools. For the 2013/ 2014 academic year, 2,100 students including 100 recipients from the Tiv-speaking local government areas of Benue State will receive the award. This number is made up of old and new awardees from the three senatorial districts districts of the State. The total sum of N31,5000,000 was paid to this categories of awardees.

The gifted girl child: At least, 14 gifted girls in different secondary schools and universities in the country were given special awards by the Board. A total amount of N1,000,000 was paid to the children through their various principals this year.

Orphans and vulnerable children: A total of 378 primary and secondary school orphans and vulnerable children drawn from all 102 wards of Benue South senatorial district are on a special scheme to ensure that education is brought to the door-steps of orphans and vulnerable children of the district. A total sum of N1,890,000 was paid out to this category of recipients through DMSF this year.

Children of the immediate past DMSF Board members: In his usual magnanimity, Senator Mark directed that children of the old board members who were on special sponsorship and who are still in school should continue to benefit from the scheme. A sum of N1,500,000 was also paid to this category of recipients through DMSF this financial year.

Special awards: Some special awards have been granted to recipients for various reasons. The awards cover children who worship in the following churches: St. Augustine’s Catholic Church Otukpo (200 recipients), St. Mary’s Catholic Church Otukpo (20 recipients) St. Paul’s Cathalic Church Utonkon (20 recipients), Divine Mercy Church, Ampia (20 recipients) St Ann’s Chaplaincy Otukpo (100 recipients). Included in this category are the Calisthenics Dancers (208 recipients). The award takes care of the children from primary to the university level of their education. Other people covered in this category include two physically challenged persons who are paid N500,000 annually till they complete their programmes.

So far, not less than 10,000 students have benefitted from the DMSF for which about N500 million have been spent since inception in 2005.

Chairman of the DMSF Board, Professor James Alachi explained that the job of educating the citizenry, especially the less-privileged ones is a task that must be jointly pursued with in line with David Mark’s passion for education for all.”

For now, the university project is set to com­mence and David Mark has just added a new feather to his cap as a lover of education as a veritable legacy for the next generation.

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