Thursday, 14 August 2014

Akpabio: Promoting higher education BY ANIEKAN UMANAH

Akpabio: Promoting higher education BY ANIEKAN UMANAH
Arising from his informed activism and long walk to freedom, the late South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and global icon, Nelson Mandela concluded that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

As such, in his resolve to bring about a greater Akwa Ibom, where the citizens would be able to stand their own and no longer be the major source of meeting the national and international house-help industry, and to produce a workforce that would be globally competitive, in a world that is increasingly being shaped by technology, His Excellency, Governor Godswill Akpabio CON, realised early enough that he must deploy the weapon of education.

Therefore, in 2008, Chief Akpabio declared free and compulsory education from primary to senior secondary level for all Nigerian children resident in Akwa Ibom. That declaration marked a major milestone in the educational history of the State as public school enrolment has since tripled.

However, inadequate number of higher institutions in the State has made difficult for many of the products of the free education policy of the administration to find admission spaces. For Governor Akpabio, the upsurge in the number of senior secondary school leavers seeking admission into higher tertiary institutions of learning was a positive challenge that must be creatively tackled.

Until the recent addition of the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana in Essien Udim Local Government Area, the only higher institutions of learning in Akwa Ibom were the University of Uyo, Uyo; Akwa Ibom State

University, Mkpat Enin; Maritime Academy, Oron; College of Education, Afaha Nsit; and the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua. To underscore his support for the promotion of functional higher education the administration of Governor Akpabio has continued to provide necessary facilities, in addition to construction of internal roads, in the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State University and the State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua.

Consequently, it was a momentous occasion when the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike was in Akwa Ibom State to perform the ground-b reaking ceremony for the newly approved Federal Polytechnic.

In line with his intent at ensuring even spread of beneficial projects in the State, Akpabio is satisfied that with the establishment of Federal Polytechnic at Ukana, in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, every Senatorial District in Akwa Ibom now has a Federal Government-owned tertiary institution of learning. Uyo Senatorial District has the University of Uyo. Eket Senatorial District has Maritime Academy, Oron and now, Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District has the Federal Polytechnic.

To clear the air on some unfounded insinuations about the location of the new polytechnic, the Minister, while performing the groundbreaking ceremony, said the choice of Ukana in Essien Udim was due to unencumbered access to land and facilities as hospital and police station among other ancillary necessities for the smooth functioning of a tertiary educational facility. He emphasized that it was the policy of the Federal Government to site such institutions where there are facilities.

He further explained that the institution was to be sited at Akwa Ibom Polytechnic, Ikot Osorua but was changed due to Governor Godswill Akpabio’s appeal to Mr. President that the State would lose its institution which churns out many graduates of Akwa Ibom origin yearly. The enviable strides of the Akpabio administration were not lost on the Minister, as he lauded the Governor “for being passionate about the State and education in general.”

Truly, just as Wike observed, Governor Akpabio has done so much to lift education in Akwa Ibom to an all-time high. The administration has recruited more than 1,500 teachers (1400 for secondary and 100 for technical colleges) to boost the free and compulsory education programme and remitted N1.5bn for overseas’ training of lecturers in the Akwa Ibom State University, among others.

For the Governor, attracting the Federal Polytechnic to Akwa Ibom constituted a major boost to uncommon transformation efforts of his administration in the education sector. Therefore, he thanked

President Jonathan for approving the institution and stressed that the people of the State would always remain faithful to him because education is the key to fighting crime.

Chief Akpabio observed that “It is an exciting moment for all those who recognize the unique role that this Federal Polytechnic will play in deepening our vision and aspiration for a greater Akwa Ibom State. 

Not only would it be a bridge between the Federal Government and our State, but it would also inspire the next generation to make notable contributions as visionary leaders in our State”.

The momentous occasion, the Governor noted was “a proud moment for all those who have been personally involved in our educational policies and understand the exacting demands of the free and compulsory education policy on our State. With the policy, enrolment in our secondary schools tripled, and that consequently meant the number of students seeking admission into tertiary institutions also tripled.”

The approval for the polytechnic to commence with a take-off grant of N1 billion was indeed a show of great love for Akwa Ibom people. This much was re-echoed by the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, Mr. Balama Joseph Obomanu.

Obamanu equally thanked the community for their cooperation towards the institution, and disclosed that the Federal Polytechnic has five faculties and 15 departments comprising Schools of Engineering, Environmental Studies, Applied Sciences, Business and Management and; Information and Technology Communication,  adding that the institution would ensure the employment of qualified staff to meet the objectives of such institutions.

For Akwa Ibom, Governor Akpabio has worked tirelessly hard and the stage is certainly set for a bright future. The onus is on us all to ensure continuity of his good works. Thank you our visionary leader!

-Aniekan Umanah is the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information & Communications

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