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DR PIUS OTARU SALAMI AND THE CAUSE OF POLYTECHNIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA

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Probably encouraged by Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa Mission and Vision statements, Dr Pius Otaru Salami has over the years established himself as perhaps a leading apostle in championing the cause of polytechnic education in Nigeria. On several occasions he has had cause to bring to fore, the plight of polytechnic institutions in Nigeria, and the need for government to muster the political will to abide by the mission behind the establishment of polytechnic education in the first place. What is interesting in Dr. Pius argument is the force and passion he brings to bear each and every time opportunity bacons.

In truth, critics may find it difficult to dismiss Dr. Pius Otaru Salami’s push for comprehensive recognition of polytechnic education in Nigeria, for many reasons. In the first place, Dr. Otaru has somehow matched his word with action, in terms of practical technological innovations and production, within the limited resources available to him by way of funding. He has managed to keep pace with technological and scientific innovations, in line with the objective of Federal Government vision of establishing the school. Under his Rector-ship, Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa is keeping faith with its Vision and Mission Statements, notwithstanding the perennial handicap of Funding and Institutionalized gang-up against polytechnic education in Nigeria.

On the occasion of the schools 8th combined Convocation Ceremony on the 9th of February 2013, this excerpt from the foreword by the rector appears to have somehow challenged Government into taking a closer look at polytechnic education in Nigeria generally: “Developed economies all over the world reached their present status because they inculcated science and technology in all aspects of their productive life. Technology and innovations constitute the major instrument that drives competitive manufacturing and efficient commercial business operations.

The devolution of these innovations and technology into economy will result in wealth and job creation through intensity of industrialization. We in the Federal Polytechnic are striving very hard to become world class institution of technology, leading in teaching Research and development. One way we can do this is by encouraging our staff and students who are superlatively brilliant to become innovative by way of productive research and development in achieving technological development of the country----“ it was therefore not surprising that since the 8th convocation of the school, both committees saddle with the responsibility of monitoring education in the National Assembly had visited Federal Poly Nasarawa; ostensibly to see how they can use legislation and other powers available to them to bring succor to the institution.

When on the Tuesday, May 28, 2013 the Senate Committee on Education visited Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa, as part of their oversight function; the rector used the opportunity of the visit to showcase instruments/products fabricated and other innovations recorded by the school. Their uses were also explained.

Among the products itemized were: Improved Melon Sheller, Rice Thresher, Bean Sheller, Essential Oil Extractor, Cooling Tower, Rice De-husking Machine, Self –propelled Boom Machine, Cassava Chipping Machine Melon Seed Extractor/ Washer. The Senator Uche Chkwumerije led Senate Committee on Education was so impressed with the giant strides made by the school, and promised to do everything within its powers to see that adequate attention is given to polytechnic education in Nigeria. The current polytechnic education bill before the National Assembly, they said, will receive prompt attention for the purpose of speedy passage into law.

But beyond Tuesday May 28, 2013 promise made to Dr. Pius Otaru Salami and his management team at the Federal Poly Nasarawa by the Senate committee on education; this writer believes that National and State Assembly Legislators can still serve as pathfinder in patronizing the products of Nigerian polytechnics. If the legislators take the lead in patronizing the products of the polytechnics gradually, other Nigerians will follow suit. It is a well known fact that our lawmakers are engaged in philanthropic activities in their respective constituents. One sure way they can collectively patronize the fabricated products of Polytechnics is to place order for the products which their respective constituents may need. For instance, the lawmakers’ can buy some of the products exhibited by Federal poly Nasarawa for their respective rural women and men for the purpose of setting up of small scale businesses. Once this practical relationship is established between the lawmakers and the polytechnic institutions in Nigeria, the lawmakers will now be in better position to appreciate and effect legislations that will protect and impact positively on the institutions generally.

Obviously, Dr. Pius Otaru Salami has proved to be a competent ambassador of better polytechnic education for Technological, Scientific and Industrial advancement of Nigeria, which in actual fact was the reason behind government establishment of the institution in the first place; what is required is for other Rectors of polytechnic institutions in Nigeria to incline their voices to Dr. Pius Salami’s crusade for better funding and recognition of this important institution in Nigeria. Now that better sponsored University education in Nigeria is clearly not providing the expected technological, scientific and industrial advancement in the country, what is needed is strong and persistent demand by conference of Rectors of polytechnic institutions from government to provide the required funding for them. Surely Federal Government policies on education will favorably tilt to their favor as worthy alternative.

Written By Emeka oraetoka
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