HOW I INTEND TO MAKE OKO POLY WORLD CLASS INSTITUTION â€“ RECTOR
Professor Godwin Onu, the newly appointed Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State has restated his commitment to return the institution to its pride of place and path of glory. He maintained that now that the Rectorship storm that trailed his appointment is over, he has no more distraction that can prevent him from working towards placing the polytechnic above its contemporaries.
In an interview with Daily Sun in his office recently, Onu who until his appointment, was the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, listed his plans for a short, medium and long term activities.
Now that the dust is settling down what plans do you have for the institution?
We have done a lot within this short period. I started with restoring discipline. When I came in here, there were reports from both staff and students about issues of extortion and other forms of harassment on students. We confronted the monster squarely.
But unfortunately, some people were already victims before we came on board. At the moment, six lecturers have been suspended for one corrupt offence or the other relating to students and they are now waiting to face disciplinary panel. We don't just suspend, due process must be followed with glaring evidence. Where corruption is rooted, positive changes are always very difficult to come by and some who are uncomfortable with the situation will still write petitions but we are waiting.
However, there are staff who are happy with the changes but many of them are beginning to appreciate the need to restore accountability, sanity, integrity.
I have even dedicated my e-mail address to everybody, especially students to report any cases of abuse, sell of illegal materials to me. We have equally directed that all books or whatever material should be deposited at the polytechnic bookshop so that no reading material is made compulsory to students.
Anybody who is interested should go there and look at it. It does not mean students should not read books but what we are saying is that such book or books should be bought in a proper manner. We have services all over the world on the internet to supplement whatever they read.
On the issue of discipline
We have taken it as a priority because if we don't get it right, we cannot move forward. I observed that examination attendance was toyed with. Examination that is scheduled to start 9am and by 10a.m, some staff are not even seen around the place. This had led to mass failure by students. So when I came on board, I had to correct the anomalies. Now our staff report to work in good time, before 8am and will remain on seat until closing time.
This however has improved productivity. On the issue of cultism, some cultists belonging to different groups came out recently to denounce their membership, that act gladdened my heart. I therefore urge others still remaining to renounce their membership. This institution is now known as a cult-free Polytechnic
On the issue of release of result and missing results, all the remaining results have been released. Very soon, statements of results for the semester will be ready. Any case of missing result should immediately be reported so that there will be immediate follow up.
We are introducing a technique that will bring to an end problems associated with missing results. We are doing a lot to empower the academic staff so that they can impart knowledge into our students.
We have organized series of computer training for lecturers and had commenced distribution of laptop to them. The management is making efforts to procure projectors for lecturers. We have also given them between now and the next two years to acquire PhD or be shown the way out. We have mapped out funds to support them. We encouraged them to attend workshops and conferences to equip our students. Arrangements have been concluded to send the students union president to Cape Town in South Africa for conference of Students Unions in Africa . We expect him to learn how students are managed.
On infrastructural development
We have cleared the busy areas and graded the road leading into the premises of our Ufuma campus. There we shall establish the school of Agricultural Technology made up of Department of Soil Sciences, Agric Science, Fisheries and Water Resources. We have also made a budget to start research on bio-fuel technology deriving fuel from biological sources instead of relying on fuel. We approved the establishment of commercial farm at Ufuma campus and the recruitment of a farm manager. We are on course in rebuilding the mass communication and school of information and technology.
We want to make it a model. Contract is being awarded for the supply of ultra-modern transmission equipment for both TV and Radio stations. When completed, our students will have practical experience. Our school of Information will be the best in this country. We are also moving into other schools, we are working hard to have full accredited Engineering departments. Contracts are also being awarded to standardize our Department of Food Technology and Hospitality. We are moving into renovation of Hostels at the Oko campus with parameter fencing. We are awarding contracts for road construction within the institution.
Already a contractor is doing the quantification for the landscaping of the hostels to enable us do concrete floors and then plant flowers for beautification.
We are currently beautifying main entrance gate into Oko campus with water fountain and digitalized signboard. An approval has been given for the erection of two multi-purpose halls and internet libraries to access other libraries all over the world. We have created data base that will capture everything about the institution and establish an electronic kind of governance. We have put in place internet facilities already. We have another hall with over 100 computers, which we have designated for staff development and training centre. Our skill acquisition centre is on course.
There are lots of other unveiled programmes. Again, our students participated in this year's NIPOGA games and they did very well to secure three medals. We are now shopping for a professional football coach that will groom players for subsequent events. We are going to build more classrooms and renovate the old ones. My students can no longer hang outside or loiter about while lectures are on. We are making the classrooms conducive for learning. Already, work has started in equipping staff offices.
Exams and Records
I have beamed my search light to exams and records and soon you will hear outcome of our overhaul. Forgery has been going on. About 35 results we received from Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) for verification were forged. Wherever the source is from, we shall nip it in the bud. Certificates of this institution can no longer be forged because it will undermine others with good results.
We will soon start personal audit. It will help us to ascertain our areas of weaknesses, know the number of students because you cannot work well without accurate statistics. It will also help us curb issues of ghost workers and check absenteeism. It will help us in planning. In some departments we have blotted number and in some, we have below expectation. It will check the staff overdue for retirement, students who are under one sanction or the other.
What do you think was the cause of that public outcry when you were appointed the Rector?
My appointment actually aggravated the already fragile peace that existed in the Institution following agitations by candidates who felt shortchanged. The crisis raged and had split staff in groups so much so that the Federal Government intervened to broker peace. However, it is interesting to observe that peace had returned to the old citadel of learning as the staff and students now put their weight behind my humble administration which has yielded fruits through the rapid development currently springing up at the institution and I have perfected strategies to turn around the institution to a world class standard.
How have you fared since your recent appointment as the Rector?
I am a practical person, I welcome constructive criticism because no man is an island and I am happy that peace has returned to the institution.
Everybody now works hard to turn around the institution for the better. Today, we have introduced a regular interactive session both for staff and students to keep them informed with goings-on in the institution.
What other sources, apart from the Federal allocation do you intend to explore to beef up revenue to accomplish your programme?
We recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at our Ufuma campus under Private Partnership Programme (PPP) to generate reasonable income from our commercial farming project which will start soon. We have also been going round the country reaching out to well meaning individuals for support and one of the benefits is the lecturer theatre which has already started. We have good support from Education Trust Fund (ETF). We manage our resources well to be able to do all programmes outlined for us by the Federal government and the Council.
Again, I am working out measures to block all the conduit pipes through which we loose revenues to private pockets. We are also reaching out to the International Community to seek collaboration, especially the Chinese for improved technology. We have started reaching out to universities abroad for collaboration because we are working out modalities for awarding degrees.
I think we are on course and the entire community is happy with what we are doing. We have also concluded plans to establish a block industry. The essence is for our contractors to patronize us and by so doing, we will be sure of quality materials used to execute our projects.
Your message to your students
I advise them to love the polytechnic. They should not down grade themselves because those in the universities are not any better. I have taught in all segments of education, we have wonderful, great students here. I urge them to take best advantage of the facilities available. This institution has produced a lot of brilliant Nigerians. Most of people in the movie industries, banks, industries, politics, media, were produced here and they are doing well. So, all they need do is to shun evil, work hard and then put God first in all their endeavours.