Tongues are wagging as yet-to-be identified persons parcel out land for residential and commercial purposes right in the middle of the prestigious Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, write MALACHY UZENDU (Saturday Editor) and MAURICE OKAFOR, Enugu.
If history is anything to go by, then the Enugu State government must rise up to the occasion and unravel the mysterious parcellation of large chunk of land between what is generally referred to as the “Gollan Heights” and the Rector’s (Staff) Village at the IMT. While some people claim the Rector of the institution, Professor Augustine Uchechukwu Nweze authorised the parcellation, the Rector insists nothing can be further from the truth. He however acknowledged the space in question is being encroached upon and parceled out, but was unable to point at anybody or institution as being responsible. This, however, has left ascertaining the authorisation figure(s) to speculation.
IMT, Enugu came into existence under the then East Central State of Nigeria Edict No 10 of 1973 promulgated by the Administrator of East Central State, Ajie Ukpabi Asika. Prior to the establishment of the IMT, there existed the College of Technology, the Institute of Administration and the Co-operative College. These institutions were autonomous and were located differently.
In 1970 there arose the need to establish a higher institution of learning for upgrading and training of manpower in ECS, which was then smarting from the civil war, in technological, managerial and engineering fields. This need was pursued vigorously and in October 1971 Ukpabi Asika merged the former College of Technology and the Institute of Administration and on 31 May 1973 the Edict No 10 of 1973 titled “The Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Edict 1973” was promulgated. Dr. Ukwu I Ukwu was the first Chairman of Council, while Professor M.O Chijioke was the first Rector and the first Registrar, Mr. B.O. Akwukwuma.
IMT operated a three campus structure for a long time, but former Governor Sullivan Chime, in moving the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) out of IMT Campus 3, collapsed IMT Campuses 1 and 3 into a composite academic complex, ceeding IMT Campus 2 along the Abakaliki Road to an autonomous College of Technology.
This composite IMT complex, located at the Independence Layout is the subject matter of this write-up. At the moment, parcellation of large chunk of the premises for private residential building and commercial purposes is causing rumpus in the state. This is mainly as the Gen. Emmanuel Abisoye Panel had warned against citing residential buildings in the premises of any academic institution.
Also, taking cognisance of the discretion of the space between the erstwhile Women Training College/Queens College and IMT/University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), which has been parcelled into residential plots, and the current IMT imbriglio, is it not likely to plunge Enugu into cataclysm of unimaginable proportions?
Competent sources had informed The AUTHORITY that few weeks ago, the Rector addressed IMT staff and informed them of the proposed parcellation of the Institute’s land at a cost of N20 million per plot. The proceeds from the sale, according to the sources, would be used to develop a campus of the IMT at Oba in Udenu Local Government Area. But, Prof. Nweze vehemently denied making such statement. He also denied knowledge of the persons or authority parcelling out the IMT land. So, what did he tell the staff at the said meeting? Who is this all-powerful force that has entered the IMT land and divinding it at will and offering same to the public?
If we are to go by the Rector’s denials, it has been discovered that IMT has over N1.5 billion of yet-to-be accessed funds with the Tertiary Education Tax fund (TetFund) and the proposed infrastructural development may be hampered because the proposed site for the project has been parcelled out marked out for sale.
The parcellation has affected the proposed Student’s Union office, the student’s football pitch and the Staff Games Village.
Also, the Enugu State Commissioner for Education, Professor Uche Eze had stated that the State Executive Council had approved N100 million for the IMT to meet accreditation needs of some of its courses. He explained that some courses in the institution were on partial accreditation, while full accreditation of several others by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) had elapsed.
“Considering the importance of IMT, the state government approved N100 million to enable the management ensure that all the courses get accreditation,” Eze stated.
In the midst of denials and allegations made against the IMT management and a new Governing Council comprising of Dr. Festus Uzor, Dr. Emmanuel Igiligi, Pharmacist Cyril Aniwike, Mr. David Sunday Onwuegbu, Prof. Gabriel O. Agbo , Dr (Mrs.) Ogoo Okanya, Dr Innocent Eze and the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Education, would this parcellation be in the overall interest of academic learning and development of IMT or not? Will mix-purpose plots of land right inside IMT premises serve the purpose? Is this a continuation of using kith and kin procedure to acquire land in Enugu metropolis continuing?
Top-ranking government and IMT officials who spoke anonymously for fear of victimisation posit that since the land was given by the indigenous owners for educational development and not for sale to any individual nor for government officials to override public interest to develop commercial or residential the land should be returned to the original owners if it can no longer be used for the original purpose of its acquisition.
Further investigations by The AUTHORITY have shown that there has not been any notice of meeting of the council where the sale of IMT land for the development of a multi campus was an on the agenda.
In the just approved state budget, there was no where the sale of IMT land was captured as a source of revenue.
It is the consensus of opinion that the process of acquisition of the IMT land did not pass through due process of the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation as officials interviewed claimed no knowledge of such.
The question bothering Enugu indigenes is: is this a death knell for the IMT?