With the current move by the Rector of the Abia State Polytechnic, Prof. Ezionye Eboh, to advance the cause of the institution to the hub for the transformation of ‘Made in Aba’ products to internationally-acceptable standard, Correspondent CHIDI ASONYE, examines the efforts and declares that soon, Aba will become the Japan of Africa.
The Polytechnic established by Edict No. 8 of 1994 with main campus at Aba, has actually lived up to expectation. With Average annual Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N1.3bn and student population of averaging 15,000 per session, there is no doubt that the institution is set to become the Eldorado training institute in the South East, nay, Nigeria.
Abia Poly has six schools and four directorates offering courses in Science, Industrial and Engineering technology, Information & Communication Technology, as well as Business and Management.
With a staff strength of about 1,300 the Poly is daunted with a monthly average wage bill of N170 million and average monthly pension of N6 million. Even as the Abia State government strives to meet the burgeoning financial needs in all sectors in the country, which makes it difficult to meet the growing financial obligations, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETfund), has also stood in the gap, providing the balance, especially for infrastructural development.
With the appointment of Prof. Ezionye Eboh as the Rector of the Poly, the mandate of the polytechnic, which is primarily to provide high level manpower for the country’s drive towards technology, is steadily being met. And considering what Aba is known for, as ‘the Japan of Africa’ coupled with the bold, untiring efforts of the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu in ensuring that this claim did not remain an idle pipe dream, the Poly got set to refocus and redirect its processes. Eboh believes that the institution must not only provide formal education, but must make the difference by impacting on its environment and gradually, carry its message of advancing the content of the vast technologists and craftsmen in Abia, to the entire South East, Nigeria and even beyond.
This zeal and accelerated momentum to transform the society for the better, propelled Prof Eboh to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the leadership of the leather manufacturers and fashion designers in Aba so that they could pursue a three-month certificate course in business and management. This was done as part of the institution’s contribution in improving the ease of doing business in Aba. It is envisaged that within the next three years, more than 10,000 business men in Aba would have benefited from this Programme.
As the biggest public institution in Aba which unarguably is the epicentre of the geo-political zone.
According to Prof. Eboh, “the essence of the three months certificate course is to transform the rustic, local artisans to world class entrepreneurs, well-equipped with more ERM business tools. By empowering them with certificates, we are helping to fight the mental, psychological battle that ‘Made in Aba’ goods are inferior.
“We’ll also train them on how to separate self from business, especially in terms of their finances. Of course, we will teach them the basics in cleanliness, rudimentary English, and self-confidence. We hope that this effort is in synergy with a whole lot of other activities being undertaken by the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration, and we have no doubt this will positively alter the business landscape of Aba within the next couple of years”.
However, The AUTHORITY gathered that inspite of these straddle, things are still not rosy for the Poly, known previously more for industrial unrest, than operating a smooth academic calendar. On this Prof. Eboh stated: “First and foremost, we have maintained lasting peace on campus. Since I came in over a year ago, there hasn’t been any strike and the academic calendar hasn’t been disrupted. Second, we’ve introduced and embraced an e-payment system, such that no staff is allowed to collect any cash for whatever from any student. Equally, processes of registration of courses, issuance of matriculation numbers, and checking of academic record/results by students have been automated online. Third, we’ve reduced, to the barest minimum extortion and exploitation of students. Books are sold through the polytechnic bookshop and the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Ethics has been put in place to promote discipline, good learning environment and sound, enduring academic culture.
“Fourth, we’ve subscribed to a market-oriented approach, which reminds everyone in the academic community that the students are the primary reason for which we’ve been employed. The primary lesson in doing that is to ensure that we deliver quality service to them. As part of this effort, we have instituted the Tertiary Institution’s Student Health Insurance Programme (TISHIP) to provide free Medicare to the students, in and out of campus. Fifth, we’re running an administration that is open, transparent and accountable. Our books of accounts are open for scrutiny anytime, any day”.
With these giant strides, what could be done in order not to slow down the achievements, is to support current moves to convert the institution to a federal polytechnic. Aside from the fact that with more resources coming from the federal government, it will open up its vistas to other geo-political zones, and build up synergies that would eventually catapult Nigeria to the technological and economic hub of Africa. And if this is achieved, the primary reason for the setting up of the institution, which is to provide technological manpower and research and innovation at the tertiary level, will be better advanced.
Thank God that last week, there was a public hearing in the Senate where issues pertaining to the takeover by the federal government were advanced. With the quality presentations made by stakeholders, and given the blessing of the National Assembly with the concurrence of the executive arm, a new academic colossus would have berthed in Abia and at Aba precisely. And should that be the case, Aba would naturally transform to becoming the epicenter of technology in Africa.
At the moment, efforts must not be spared to support the Prof. Eboh-led management to move the Poly to its permanent site. And should the Federal Government accede to the take-over moves, the needed infrastructure are already in place for smooth transition.