By State House Communication Unit
As the most distinguished alumni and the first to become head of state, His Excellency Dr Ernest Bai Koroma on Saturday February 18, 2017, joined staff and students to celebrate the 190th anniversary celebrations of Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone at the Adjai Crowther Amphitheatre, Mount Aureol.
Speaking during the event, the president urged FBC authorities to adopt a new spirit, with sustained commitment and steadfastness to restore the past glory of one of the oldest universities in sub-Saharan Africa.
He recounted the glorious past of FBC where lecturers would not compromise academic work and that the learning environment was conducive as they were provided with three meals daily. “I witnessed an era when we had a conducive learning environment, well-stocked library and an excellent teaching staff. The canteen system was in full operation with three meals a day for every student. We even had an official dinner once a month,” he pointed out.
President Koroma expressed the need for a critical retrospection of where “we stumbled and a thorough introspection of how we should pick ourselves up, dust off and move on to a bright future,” in solving the critical query “Why the college’s performance should be rated better in those days than now?”
The president reiterated government’s commitment to improve on the access to and quality of university education in Sierra Leone. “We noted the dilapidated state of the university’s infrastructure and through the Ministry of Education we signed a contract with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) for the rehabilitation and expansion of Fourah Bay College campus,” he noted, adding that despite all this, “the minds and habits of the people should also be changed in other to restore the lost glory of this great institution.”
President Koroma’s admission number was read as 5637 in the Faculty of Arts.
After thanking the president for his effort to see his alma mater acquire international standards, Professor S.P.T. Gbamanja gave a systematic update on the status of the college, efforts of the administration and the ongoing BADEA project.
Giving an account of the college administration, Prof. Gbamanja said on the foundation day last year, out of internally generated funds of the college, they turned the sod for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Adjai Crowther Amphitheatre, and were able to build the expansion from the valley and raised it to three storey height. Added to the rehabilitation of the old annex, he said, the Amphitheatre now conveniently provides accommodation for 3, 100 seats. Notwithstanding, he said, the ground floor of the new annex has 20 public toilets, 10 for male and 10 for female plus 10 extra urinaries for men all connected to a borehole providing regular water supply. He said the administration is hoping that the dais will be raised later when funds are available to make the whole Amphitheatre a stadium.
Meanwhile, Prof. Gbamanja also updated the president on the ongoing rehabilitation work under the BADEA project. He cited the project’s readiness to rehabilitate all hostels, some department and administrative buildings, library, Korthright house, Mary Kingsley and many more. And for the intended new buildings to be erected by the BADEA project, the professor mentioned the multi-purpose hall, new male and female hostels, lecture theatre, clinic, school of architecture, senior and junior staff quarters and visiting staff quarters. He revealed that clearing of construction sites, setting out and digging of foundations for the two senior staff quarters, visiting staff quarters, School of Architecture, lecture theatre and hostels has already been done.
The professor spoke of challenges they are getting from the local community of Leicester Road and Tree Planting, saying the community people are claiming ownership to the proposed site for the new construction. He said at some point, the community people stopped the clearing of the site and vowed to burn down the contractor’s machines if they attempt to enter those sites again.
In honour of the outstanding contribution of President Koroma to his alma mater, the college authorities through Madam Bernadette Cole, presented him a plaque which portion of its citation reads: “His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, having seen the dilapidation of infrastructure in his alma mater, facilitated the processing of funds to the tune of Thirty-Six Million US Dollars for the rehabilitation and expansion of Fourah Bay Collage Campus.”
The cutting of the tape to the extended Amphitheatre and the turning of the sod for the construction of the Department of Architecture and the Institute of Library, Information and Communication Studies by President Koroma climaxed the ceremony.