First Sports University in Nigeria and Sub Sahara Africa Takes off Jan 2023
*Proprietor, Ned Nwoko, makes big history as he receives licence
Popular Nigerian billionaire philanthropist, international attorney and educationist, Dr. Ned Nwoko stood tall on the lane of history on Thursday May 12 as the Federal Government of Nigeria presented him with the provisional licence for Sports University of Nigeria, Idumuje-Ugboko, Delta State, the first of its kind in Nigeria, West and Sub Sahara Africa.
The former member of the Nigerian House of Representatives said the new university will take off latest in January next year within the forthcoming 2022/2023 academic year. The unique sports university is a project that the hero of Paris/London excess payment refunds and malaria eradication in Africa champion has pursued diligently for many years surmounting daunting challenges in the process.
Alongside proprietors of 11 other newly approved private universities, Ned Nwoko, the husband of star actress, Regina Daniels, received the licence from the Federal Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu at the Auditorium of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja amid aplomb and accolades from several dignitaries including international sporting icons.
The exceptional tertiary institution which is expected to catalyze Nigeria’s sports revolution will run conventional university academic curricula in addition to various sports programmes. The popular prince of Idumuje-Ugboko kingdom said the licensing of the premier sports university was a dream come true for him as he had since his childhood years nursed the ambition of providing an environment, with rightful ambience, where sports men and women would develop their potentials to full capacity and at the same time undertake academic activities.
The Minister of Education, Adamu stated while presenting the licences to Ned Nwoko and others that the Federal Government was well aware of the need to improve the country’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking knowing that countries that are consistently well-ranked in human development indices have maintained respectable number of universities relative to their populations.
Adamu’s words: “In the 2020 UN Human development index, Nigeria dropped three places to 161 out of 189 countries and territories. These are some of the matters we aim to address. As usual, the provisional approval for these universities to operate is intended to create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within the first three years of operation.”
He disclosed that the new universities would be affiliated to older generation universities for academic and administrative mentoring which would be moderated by the NUC.
The Minister urged the proprietors to sustain funding towards improving infrastructure, equipment for teaching and learning as well as keep human resources up to earn the universities accreditation by NUC.
The Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed hailed Ned Nwoko and the other proprietors of the new universities for their bold initiatives.
While stressing that private universities bring uniqueness to the Nigerian university landscape, Prof. Rasheed said: “The NUC has embarked on radical re-engineering of the curricula in the Nigerian universities to meet global standards and international best practices toward preparing Nigerian graduates for relevance in world economy.
He added: “The Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) has been revised to Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) by NUC along with the programme best experts and industry stakeholders.
“The CCMAS, which will soon be unveiled to the public, provides 70 per cent of what should be taught along with the expected outcomes, while universities will provide 30 per cent based on their individual contextual peculiarities and characteristics.
“The establishment of more private universities under the strict supervision of NUC is an antidote to the proliferation of illegal source of worry and embarrassment to the nation and a menace to quality university education delivery.’’
The NUC Chief enjoined the proprietors to acquaint themselves with the code of governance for private universities which aimed to enhance successful running and sustainability of the institutions.
Former Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie said universities bring development, maintaining that if we must have qualitative universities education, private universities must be encouraged.’
According to him, unless there is the creation of new states, new state universities cannot be created, saying that government was hard pressed in terms of political will and funds to establish more universities.
He added: “Universities bring development and the future of development in this country resides with the universities.
“Go to any state in this country, the establishment of universities bring about an increase in economics activities, new buildings coming up for students accommodation, okada riders for transportation, etc.”
Okojie said countries with huge populations have good number of universities to cushion their educational needs.
He called for support for those that want to establish private universities. He said private universities make room for innovative and qualitative education.
Sports University, Idumuje-Ugboko, expected to expand rapidly, is among the 12 new private universities that received their provisional licences from the National Universities Commission (NUC) on Thursday following their earlier approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The other new universities are: Pen Resource University, Gombe; Al-Ansar University, Maiduguri; Margaret Lawrence University Galilee, Delta State; Khalifa Isiyaku Rabiu University, Kano; Bab Ahmed University, Kano; Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto; Nigerian British University, Asa, Abia State; Peter University, Achina/Onneh, Anambra State; Newgate University, Minna; European University of Nigeria, Duboyi, Abuja and Northwest University, Sokoto. The new universities bring the total number of private universities in Nigeria to 111.
In an earlier interview upon the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed’s announcement of the FEC’s approval of the Sports University, Idumuje-Ugboko on April 6, 2022, Ned Nwoko disclosed to newsmen that he conceived the idea of establishing the Sports University in Nigeria over 23 years ago.
He recalled that as a member of the House of Representatives, he sponsored a bill for its establishment which was not passed. He expressed joy that a dream that started many years back has been actualized.
Nwoko stated that the university would be a veritable ground for selection of sports men and women that will represent Nigeria at local, continental and intercontinental competitions.
He said, “It took me a long time to get to this point, but I can speak confidently about this now. I went to China, Russia, America, and England and came back to put all the sports courses together.
“I realized years ago when I was in Britain studying that Nigeria was behind in virtually every sphere – internationally speaking. When we have Olympic sports, how well do we do as a country? Almost zero performance.
“Nigeria is now 62 years from independence with only two Olympic gold medals, one from Chioma Ajunwa and the other from the Kanu Nwankwo-led Atlanta 1996 football squad…
Beyond Africa, Michael Phelps of US has 21 gold medals alone. These were achieved because of practice. But Nigeria will wait for a month or two to the Olympics before going to the camp. And I ask, what can you achieve in a month against someone who has been practicing for years or all his life?
“Therefore, I said to myself this is what we don’t have in Nigeria, and Africa. So I thought I should do something like this to allow the young ones to do what they love doing.”
Ned Nwoko said “The Sports University is modeled to pursue the advancement of learning in specialised areas of sports development including management as well as to conduct specialised professional coaching courses, and research to advance various breakthroughs in sports.”
He decried the misconception that sports hamper a child’s dedication to academics programmes. While other higher institutions do sports as leisure, he promised that the Sports University would “take sports in the academic world as a lifestyle to build careers that will enable individuals to make their mark and edge their exploits in accounts of history”.
According to Ned Nwoko, Nigeria and Africa need a sports university because it will make the young ones physically fit and more dedicated to their education.
In addition to the pursuit of sports and academic programmes, Sports University, Idumuje-Ugboko is expected to be a source of employment for thousands of residents of the host community, its neighbourhood and beyond.
On the level of readiness for the take-off of the institution, Ned Nwoko said the university will take off in the 2022/2023 academic session to offer professional first-degree certificates in sports-related fields and other academic programmes. It will also run secondary school for grooming of sporting talents for the university.
According to the aerial pictures of the proposed university he released, the school project has a three-floor academic building, top-scale art library, medical centres, Olympic-size swimming pools, golf course, and standard pitches for football, hockey, basketball and baseball among numerous others.
According to the design, the varsity also has a five-star hotel, administrative blocks, lecture hall, canteen, and junior staff quarters.
ABOUT PRINCE NED NWOKO
Prince [Dr.] Ned Munir Nwoko is a rare Nigerian patriot and an iconic personality of many parts. He is an outstanding international lawyer, politician, educationist, philanthropist, environmentalist, businessman, tourism patron and sports enthusiast.
RICH HERITAGE AND EARLY LIFE
Prince Ned Nwoko was born on December 21, 1960 into the Nwoko Royal Family of Idumuje-Ugboko in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. His rich heritage, pedigree and environment enhanced his upbringing, outstanding academic and professional achievements. He is married with children.
SOUND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
After successfully completing his elementary and secondary education in Nigeria, Prince Ned Nwoko proceeded to the United Kingdom [UK] in pursuit of higher education. He obtained his first degree in Law and History from the University of Keele in Staffordshire, United Kingdom, followed by King’s College London where he graduated with a Masters in Law. He got his honorary doctorate degrees from the Commonwealth University College in Belize and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun [FUPRE], Delta State.
A SUCCESSFUL INTERNATIONAL ATTORNEY
Prince Ned Nwoko began his successful legal career when he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in England. He thereafter worked as a solicitor at Crown Prosecution Services, one of the notable law firms in England and Wales. He also worked with other law firms including Pascaldiers & Co. Solicitors and Kumaoron Solicitors. Following his background and experience, Prince Ned Nwoko got into the services of the Supreme Court of England and Wales as solicitor. During his legal career in the United Kingdom, Prince Ned Nwoko served as the Secretary General of the Nigerian Legal Practitioners in the United Kingdom. He also served as a visiting adviser to the Citizen’s Bureau based in London.
After many years of legal practice with top organizations in both private and government sectors in the United Kingdom, Prince Ned Nwoko established his private law firm named Ned Nwoko and Co. Solicitors. The London-based law firm, among other sublime services, engaged in management and verification of foreign debts of Third World countries, including their component states.
Prince Ned Nwoko also set up Linas International Nigeria Limited, a law firm that also focuses on the verification terms and conditions as well as reconciliation of loans for states, especially the Paris and London Loans.
He was amongst Nigeria’s legal luminaries who assisted in shaping global narratives during the military regimes of the late 1980s and 1990s. Their sterling efforts contributed greatly in maintaining the image of the country as well as helped her to attain appreciable mileages in some sectors. The team prepared the groundwork for the setting up of some critical federal agencies including the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC].
PARIS CLUB EXCESS PAYMENTS REFUNDS HERO
Prince Ned Nwoko is the Nigerian hero who doggedly played the leading role in fighting, negotiating for and securing the Paris Club excess payments refunds which substantially helped to steer Nigeria out of recession. The refunds proved valuable for payment of arrears of salaries and pensions as well as funding of other critical needs. His success at the international stage through securing the refunds is an eloquent testimony of his patriotism, love and belief in his fatherland, Nigeria.
The task of facilitating the huge refunds was by no means a cakewalk for Prince Ned Nwoko. For decades, he fought tooth and nail at great personal risk. He relentlessly pursued and tracked the powerful creditor club members. As he chased them from different fronts, he filed legal suits in London, Paris, New York, Switzerland, Abuja and other places.
As a man who believes in probity, transparency and accountability in both public and private sectors of the economy, Prince Ned Nwoko considered a situation where his country was being cheated in cahoots with some unpatriotic Nigerian officials as not only unjust but also unacceptable.
It is noteworthy that while practicing law abroad, Prince Ned Nwoko deployed considerable energy and resources in defending many Africans who were inadvertently or advertently involved in sundry travel, migration and other related cases in the United Kingdom and Europe at large.
A VISIONARY POLITICAL LEADER
Prince Ned Nwoko is a visionary and influential political leader whose political associates and friends spread across the country. His imprints on the sands of Nigerian politics are very bold and impressive. Between 1999 and 2003, Prince Ned Nwoko served in the National Assembly as an Honourable member of the House of Representatives. He represented the people of Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly.
He served on the Vision 2010 Committee and was also a member of the Capital Market Committee. He equally served as Chairman of the External Committee of Vision 2010.
A man of great vision and mission, Prince Ned Nwoko attracted many projects to his District and State during his glorious tenure as a member of the House of Representatives. For instance, he played a pivotal role towards securing the Federal Government’s dualisation of the ever busy Benin – Asaba expressway which traverses his Delta North Senatorial District to the Southeast and the Southsouth parts of the country. Today, the road is the most active link between the old Western region, the Midwest and the defunct Eastern region. He equally influenced the approval of upgrading of the initially conceived Asaba airstrip to an International Airport status among other feats.
Prince Ned Nwoko has previously served as Special Adviser to the Government of Ethiopia among other Pan-African services.
A PHILANTHROPIST PAR EXCELLENCE
Among salutary attributes of Prince Ned Nwoko that set him head and shoulders above is his philanthropic disposition. He is a political leader with populist hue. He believes in the virtues of servant leadership, care and social responsibility. And his life of philanthropy and social service has found strong expression through the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation which he founded decades ago as a vehicle for helping the needy and giving back to the society.
The foundation has been a formidable outreach organ for rendering important social services such as roads and bridges construction, provision of infrastructure in public schools and healthcare centres, succuor for the handicapped, the elderly, poor and widows among others. Prince Ned Nwoko is an ardent believer in universal humanity with uncommon kind disposition.
His care for the sick is equally legendary. For instance in 2019, he doled out N5 million to an ailing football legend, Mr. Christian Chukwu, a former Captain of Green Eagles as the Nigerian National Male Football team was then called.
Hundreds of students have benefitted and still benefitting from Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation’s award of scholarships to indigent and outstanding students across many universities in Nigeria and abroad. The scholarships cover diverse fields of study with particular emphasis on science, technology, sports, entertainment, tourism, arts and humanities.
NED NWOKO’S MALARIA ERADICATION IN AFRICA PROJECT
Prince Ned Nwoko’s inclination to empathizing, giving and caring for humanity is a divine attribute. It was that passion for charity and service that made him to embark on the gigantic Malaria Eradication in Nigeria and Africa Project through the instrumentality of Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation. As part of activities to kickoff the malaria eradication project and interact with eminent scientists on the White Continent, Prince Ned Nwoko embarked on a historic and risky expedition to the Antarctica and the South Pole in January 2020. He became the first person to hoist the Nigerian flag on the South Pole Antarctica. Through the successful expedition, his name equally entered the Guinness Book of Records as the first black man and a Nigerian to have visited the South Pole Antarctica.
The Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation is working assiduously and collaborating with relevant stakeholders, including governments, national, international and multilateral organizations to attain the official certification of Nigeria and the entire Africa as malaria-free zone.
The malaria eradication in Africa project is being implemented through a number of approaches including sponsorship of malaria vaccine research and development efforts, waste management, recycling, fumigation, and public enlightenment on the imperative of environmental sanitation.
A RARE NATURALIST, CULTURE AND TOURISM ENTHUSIAST
It is incontrovertible that over the years, Prince Ned Nwoko has established a high reputation as a naturalist, culture and tourism enthusiast. Earlier this year, he doled out N100 million for tourism development in the country. The gesture came as a big boost to a vital sector that has been tottering in the country.
At the end of his first term as a member of the House of Representatives, Prince Ned Nwoko made an audacious bid for the governorship of Delta State. That unsuccessful attempt proved fortuitous as it provided him quality time to reconnect once again with the grassroots and to focus more on two of his productive passions – tourism and culture.
He built a sprawling breath-taking tourist haven in his home area of Idumuju-Ugboko, which is a tourism masterpiece by all standards. One writer eloquently observed that the resort manifests Prince Ned Nwoko’s desire to “blend nature, culture, sports and history into a seamless tourism enterprise”.
Among other edifices, he built at Idumuje-Ugboko is a 43,000-hectare hilltop castle, Ned Mount Resort. The structure which is estimated to be worth over N10 billion, is situated 1000 feet above sea level, making it the highest point in Delta State.
The main building, a unique architectural masterpiece, is a rich blend of Arabian, Western and rich African royal traditional design. It is reputed to be one of the most captivating tourism destinations in Nigeria.
Aside the main building, the resort has numerous other captivating sights like well hedged and paved gardens suited for family camping, picnics or relaxation. It also has a zoo with many species of animals that have become the tourists’ favourite. The zoo has aquatic ponds that harbor over 50,000 cat fish and other species, a poultry with more than 5,000 birds and thousands of beautiful towering palm trees plus other flora.
A PILLAR OF SPORTS AND PATRON OF EDUCATION Prince Nwoko is a lover of sports and education. He is the founder and Chancellor of Sports University, Idumuje-Ugboko in Delta State. The new tertiary institution is sub-Saharan Africa’s premier sports university. Massive construction commenced at the site since 2017 and is presently underway at the university which is projected to be substantially completed for takeoff latest in January, 2023.
When operational, the university is expected to be a centre for grooming of sporting talents in different fields including football, athletics, boxing, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, squash, badminton, swimming, wrestling and self defence arts among others.Apart from sports related disciplines, the university will also offer many other academic courses covering sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences.
Prince Ned Nwoko is an avid sports lover and sponsor. His passion for sports is reflected in the various sports facilities that adorn the Mount Ned Nwoko Resort. These include an Olympic-size swimming pool just behind the main castle as well as a lawn tennis court and a standard table tennis section.
Prince Ned Nwoko’s support for sports development is manifold and difficult to quantify. Last year, he extended his philanthropic gestures to Team Delta which emerged overall winners of the 2018 National Sports Festival held in Abuja. In appreciation of their five star performance, he hosted the victorious team and boosted them with a princely donation of N20 million. This is just one example of his numerous philanthropist gestures towards boosting sports in the state and the country at large.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
In recognition of his immense impact on society growth and transformation, Prince Ned Nwoko has been conferred with many awards and honours among which are the following:
1. Anti -Corruption Award Crusader Award-2019.
2. Peace Achievers Award-2019.
3. Prime Excellence Recognition Award-2019.
4. Five Star Award For Tourism-2019.
5. Sun city Champions Award For Humanitarian Services- 2019.
6. Delta Role Model Award-2019.
7 All Africa Music Award-2019.
8. African Community Impact Award-2019.
9.University of Nigeria, Nsukka Philanthropy Award 2018.
10. African Value Award For Effective Leadership And Youth Empowerment.
MARITAL STATUS: Married with children
HOBBIES: Music and Lawn Tennis.