“Our role ends with administrative and academic management of the University,” he said on CRTV’s Sunday newsmagazine program, Cameroon Calling as he responded to claims that they are concluding plans for the creation of an annex of the University of Buea in Akonolinga.
The South West Chiefs Conference had called on the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buea to, first of all, decongest the institution to all six divisions of the South West Region before considering the request made by the elite of Akonolinga.
Here is the full text of the interview Prof. Ngomo granted CRTV last Sunday. He was responding to questions from CRTV’s anchorman, Ebenezer Motale.
For the clarity of our readers, what is an annex of a university prof?
Well, an annex of a university will virtually be a duplication of all the teaching programs of the university in buildings located elsewhere. But usually, an annex is under the management of the main campus. In an annex, you will have all that the main campus will have. But if the hierarchy so desires, if such a thing is created at all, then at some point it will be under some kind of autonomous management.
Has the request by Akonolinga prospered at all?
No, let me put it this way, it was just a request. It was a request to be studied.
How did they come to know about UB?
Yes, that’s a fair question. Let me say that some of the lecturers in UB accompanied by their students had already been carrying out research in the Akonolinga area long before, and that’s how the community came to know about UB and got to know us.
After seeing the results of such research carried out there, they believed UB could be of assistance to their activities which were mainly farming and aquaculture. Some researchers from the department of fisheries and aquaculture had taken an interest to study the multiplication of the kanga fish in the Nyong River and which had not been excessively studied and how it could be domesticated. This is in addition to some socioeconomic studies they had done. These researchers quite often presented their results to members of that community and they found them remarkable. Those elites then offered the university 40 hectares to help them carry out those activities. Let me say that when they showed up here, they pledged another 121 hectares making it a total of 161 hectares.
Does UB need that amount of land?
Why not? You know we have a department of forestry and students, lecturers and researchers in forestry need the land to carry out inventories of trees and wildlife species and it is important to go with students to a forest we control so that experiments cannot be destroyed.
So Prof., At this point we can assume that if this request gets granted, it will be something to do with agriculture and aquaculture?
Let me put it this way, these people came with a project. But first of all, researchers had individually been carrying out work on fish species not just from the Nyong River but from other rivers in Cameroon within the context of some research projects which some researchers had. And so the focus of particular research which concerned Akonolinga was on the establishment of a resistant species by cross-breeding species we got from Akonolinga, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. So that was within the context of a joint research project.
This was going on. But of course, that was being carried out at the level of the University of Buea. And when these people eventually showed up for a visit, and that’s when everybody knew there was something like this. When the people came for a visit, they were taken to our laboratories to be shown the development of those species. It had nothing to do with any annex or anything. It was within the context of individual and collective research of some researchers.
Prof., the text creating UB states that it will pursue an Anglo-Saxon education with English as the medium of instruction. In Akonolinga, the language of instruction, of course, is French. What’s your take on this?
Well, I think I need to clear some grey areas there. Nobody has created anything. We took the matter to Senate. In fact, when the elites of that community came visiting, it coincided with the meeting of the deans and directors. So we gave them some time to do some presentations they had with them on PowerPoint. And so after listening to them, we continued with our meeting while they went visiting some of the facilities in the faculty of agriculture and veterinary medicine.
So having learned from them what they wanted from us, the next step was to inform Senate.
And Senate is the highest decision-making organ in the university regarding academic matters. So the discussion in the Senate was simply informative, and we had to do that before transferring that request to the ministry. So, of course, we don’t have the authority to create an annex, an antenna, a college, talk less of a university campus.
On August 8, 2020, the chiefs paid you a courtesy visit on the occasion of which they proposed to decongest your institution in the following ways; Faculty of Agriculture in Ekondo-Titi, Ndian Division, Fisheries and Marine Studies in Limbe, Fako Division, Higher Teacher’s Training College in Bangem, Kupe Muanenguba, School of Mines and Geology in Mamfe, Manyu, a School of Pharmacy and Pharmacopeia in Menji, Lebialem Division and Faculty of Engineering and Cyber Criminology in Kumba, Meme Division. Now tell us, Professor, has the South West Chiefs’ Conference the authority or capacity to make the demands as we have just enumerated?
While I appreciate their demands, you know, like any other body, the demands are made to the wrong people. The demands should be made to those who have the authority to create those structures. For now, the University of Buea decree locates the University in Buea.
When the Higher Teachers’ Training Technical College was created in Kumba, it was created by the head of state. So, you know, they can’t address such a request to us. We don’t have that authority. They can inform us as they did. But to say that they have a decongestion plan for the university, such a request should be addressed to those who have the authority and we don’t have. Our role ends with administrative and academic management of the University.