A Historical Overview of University Education in Urhoboland

By Assin Godstime
Inventor & Publisher of Urhobo Current Affairs
2022 UPU awardee
Phone Number: 08165006012.

Prior to the establishment of the famous University College in Ibadan in 1948, Urhobo people have shone academically. Frederick Esiri was already a medical student at the Yaba Higher College, as they now call it. Borke Umukoko had also been sponsored abroad in pursuit of a law degree which situations aborted halfway, otherwise Borke would have been Urhobo first University trained graduate. T. E. A. had journeyed abroad through high seas in pursuit of a foreign diploma.

At different times, notwithstanding, Urhobo people have continued to exhibit and conquer in academic pursuit. There was bravery and whet to redefine the Urhobo man to enable him compete in the new world to be birthed afterwards. This zeal prompted Urhobo Nation under the umbrella of Urhobo Progress Union, UPU to sponsor two Urhobo sons abroad, namely: McNeil Gabriel Ejaife and Ezekiel Norucho Igho in pursuit of university education. Ejaife graduated from Durham University in 1946 while Igho earned a degree from Cambridge University in 1950. With both as Urhobo first and second university trained graduates respectively, they became pioneer Principal and Vice at Urhobo College in Effurun at its take off in 1949. Ejaife headed this school until 1950 when Igho joined him.

The university of Ibadan became a full-fledged university in 1960, the same year Urhobo first female graduate, Joan Ibuje graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in History. In terms of professorship Urhobo did not have it quite early. However, Frank Ukoli was appointed Professor of Zoology at the University of Ibadan in 1973. He was the first of Urhobo extraction appointed a Professor. Philip Kuale, Urhobo first Engineer was the first appointed Vice-Chancellor at Bendel State University, Ekpoma in 1985-89. He was the first of Deltan origin. Kuale and Ukoli were the first Urhobo Deans of a University Faculty, while David Okpako and Kuale are the only Urhobos’ to have been Deans in both Federal and State Universities. Okpako was Dean of College of Pharmacy at both Ibadan and Delta State University. Kuale was Dean of the Faculties of Engineering in Uniben and Oleh.

… to be continued tomorrow!

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