Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has said approval for any new campus of the Nigerian Law School in the country should be based on needs assessment and not on political sentiment.
He noted that with the paucity of funds being allocated to the Nigerian Law School by the Federal Government, States with capacity to build brand new campus of the institution should be encouraged to do so based on the model provided by the Council of Legal Education.
Governor Wike stated this when members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by its chairman, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, paid him a courtesy call at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
The Rivers State Governor observed that due to the current insufficient carrying capacity of the Nigerian Law School, there has been clamor for proliferation of more campuses across the country. But he cautioned that this must not be done on the basis of political sentiment.
“Most of us attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, and even at that time, it was not easy to have accommodation within the Law School. But at least, we were able to attend classes. So, it is reasonable for everybody to say there is need to increase the carrying capacity. But that must be done with objectivity; that must be done with facts, that must not be done by sentiment.”
He explained that two years ago when he attended the call to bar ceremony at the Abuja campus of the Nigerian Law School, he was appalled by the decrepit infrastructure in the school.
According to him, this was what spurred the Rivers State government to build 900 bed space hostels and 1500 capacity auditorium for students in Yenagoa campus, and then, the subsequent construction of a brand new campus in Port Harcourt.
“From the record I’ve checked, they’ve (Nigerian Law School) never gotten more than N61 Million Naira to fund the Law School yearly. And I made a special appeal to support to Council of Legal Education to rehabilitate the campus in Abuja, and the Director General said no, we have more problem in Yenagoa, leave Abuja.
“You’ll never allow your slave to attend the campus in Yenagoa. And I want to thank the DG for being a true Nigerian. As I speak to you today, Rivers State government is investing not less than N5.1billion in Yenagoa campus. What is our interest? Our interest is to contribute to the development of legal education in Nigeria.”
Governor Wike said based on the Federal Government’s inability to sufficiently fund the Nigerian Law School, any State government that desires to have a campus should approach the Council of Legal Education for approval.
“I will appeal, in solving this carrying capacity problem, let’s not also create other problems. It is a professional school and so we must be guided. If any state wants to have a Law School there must be a model.”
The governor explained that the construction of Nabo Graham Douglas campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt will cost the Rivers State government N16 Billion. According to him, everything that is supposed to be in a Law School, will be found in the Port Harcourt campus when it is completed early next year.
“We are not just merely building a Law School, we have acquired investment to handover to the Law School to use to sustain the school here. This is a model that a Law School should be.”
The governor also disclosed once the project is completed and handed over to the Council of Legal Education, the State government will also provide subvention to the Council to run the campus for the next four years.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, said they were in the State to assess the progress of work at the Port Harcourt campus of the Nigerian Law School.
“Your Excellency, when we were all privileged to study law in this country and just as we are doing graduation, the Nigerian Law School was waiting to absorb us. We have children in this country who graduated some two, three, four years ago and they are still waiting to be absorbed into the Nigerian Law School.
“Was it based on the refusal by the Nigerian Law School to so admit them, no. But based simply on the fact that the Nigerian Law School as presently constituted and as funded, is lacking the capacity to be able to respond to the corresponding needs of the Nigerian public, given the number of universities that turned out law graduates every year.”
He commended Governor Wike for his intervention to build a befitting campus of the Nigerian Law School in Rivers State.