How Aweil citizens pressured gov’t to construct N. Bahr el Ghazal University
By William Madouk Garang
Citizens of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State (NBGS) have made good on their social media campaign calling on the government to construct a higher learning institution in Aweil or receive no vote from the state in the coming elections in 2023.
The campaign dubbed #No University of University of NBGS, No Vote Comes 2023 surfaced on social media such as Facebook late last year, with users telling national politicians hailing from the state complete the construction of the university – which began nearly a decade ago, according to reports – or forget votes from the citizens there.
In what appears to be a respond from the national government, Vice President for Service Delivery Cluster, Hussein Abdel-bagi Akol on Wednesday led a delegation of senior government officials and toured the site of Northern Bahr el Ghazal University in Aweil.
In the delegation accompanying VP Akol to inspect the foundation of University in Aweil were the National Minister of Finance and Planning, Agak Achuil Laul, the national Minister of General Education and Instruction, Awut Deng Acuil, among others.
“We saw an impressive progress in the development of state educational center for generations,” the VP proudly posted on his Facebook page which generated a lot of positive comments from Aweil natives who appeared to have understood the visit of VP to the construction site as a response to their call.
Slogan “No University in Aweil, No Vote” was solely created by Aweil sons and daughters to advocate for the completion of NBGS University and ignited national government to support the construction.
Mr. Nicodemus Nguet who hails from Aweil said that the campaign should not be politicized but it’s a reminder for politicians who are inspired to contest for election to deliver services to the people.
In his statement to the media, the Vice Chancellor of the university who also attended the inspection ceremony by the VP, Prof. Stephen Chol Ajongo appealed to national government to allocate a budget for the university.
“… the challenge we have is that we don’t have a budget allocated to the university since it was established. The challenge we have is [that] there is no operation cost since it was opened, I was appointed in 2019 up to this time it’s almost three years and there is no operation cost,” Ajongo said.
“I brief them [the delegation] about fundraising that was done by the state government and I want to thank governor Tong Akeen Ngor for the support he has been giving to this university,” he added.
On his part, the Deputy governor of NBGS, Tong Lual Ayat acknowledged the role local community played both home and aboard in contributing financially for the building of educational facility.
“Today we are here at the campus of Northern Bahr el Ghazal University with VP, actually we have just come to assess the university of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State because the university has already started as the fence has already been erected, the citizens of NBGS are contributing money so that the university can be constructed,” Ayat explained.
“We have already instructed five county commissioners to mobilize resources from five counties and also our citizens of NBGS who are aboard have also done their contributions as well as others,” he added.
The committee that was formed has so far collected millions of pounds and thousands of US Dollars from daughters and sons of Aweil and well-wishers to construct the university.
The idea of Northern Bahr el Ghazal University was first initiated by Sudanese government under National Congress Party (NCP) of Al-Bashir in 2010.
In 2012, President Kiir’s administration confirmed the creation of Northern Bahr el Ghazal university and appointed John Akech Apurot the vice Chancellor though he cited lack of budget for the university at that time.