By Tajudeen Habeeb.
Few days ago, while shuffling the internet for the world happenings, that which is a daily routine in my artillery; I came across a news story on China wanting to convert 600 universities to polytechnics in a bid to drive her industrialization agenda, and it piqued my interest.
May I remind us that China has the biggest economy in the world as we speak, yet she is thinking about the future of her teeming populace.
I retrospected and wondered when my fatherland would take such steps. How much more does Nigeria need to know that the world is moving from the reliance on nature given resources to man-made resources; that the saying “ICT is the new crude oil” is not fable but a realistic trend which any serious nation needs to enlist its tremendous contributions to the global economy today for emphasis to be prioritized on home soil.
Like ICT, there are numerous industrial trends which will continue to have impact in the global economic indices. This is not to say natural resources is not going to be harnessed, it is, however, saying to cater for the teeming populace innovative trends must be monitored and domesticated for a nation like Nigeria cannot continue to rely on crude oil.
Like in every other thing, the Nigerianess in us might not allow us to thinker in this direction, apart from corruption. Some of us have long accepted the fact that we have other problems in strong will and projection, conspiracy and lack of projected priority.
A Nigeria nation with an alarming rate of poverty and unemployment ought to have as priority measures to pull out of poverty capitals of the world, understanding the nexus between economic prosperity and knowledge/education as proven by numerous researches and indices. One would have expected that we place a priority on education, but are we?
The responsibility of education, however, does not lie on a single tier of government. As prescribed by the constitution, needless I repeat that the basic, secondary, and tertiary education is shared among the local, state and federal government. However, the responsibility for tertiary education is partially shared by the state and federal government as a result of its state creation.
This, I believe, was birthed by an attempt to create ease and cater for the high demand in tertiary education as a result of population growth and to enhance the system. However, it has become a burden of sort and an added problem to the system as a result of neglect and irresponsibility.
While it is generally accepted that it is a Nigerian problem, it is expected that the federating units (states) that make up the nation takes responsibility of her creation, reverse, however, is the case in many states.
Kwara takes, as usual, the front seat in this (un) wise. While it is the same in the basic, secondary and tertiary education, I will leave the first two for another day and focus my strength on the state tertiary institutions with an interest in Kwara State Polytechnic.
Kwara state has in total nine (9) tertiary institutions but safe for Kwara State University, Malete, no other tertiary institution in the state can be called one truthfully. While other institutions have problems ranging from security to dearth in infrastructure and some sort of academic deficiency, Kwara State Polytechnic which prides itself as the king of all, has enormous infrastructural challenges, falling academic standard and high level of corruption in her cabinet.
The efforts of the new Sheriff to industrialize the state, woo investors (both foreign and local) might not yield lasting results if he forgets to build a foundation, that which entails building an army of citizens with the technical know-how to drive and sustain the agenda.
Right here, the technical institutions comes to mind. Are they positioned to produce the required manpower?
In his effort to address Education, the Abdulrazaq-led Kwara State Government set up an Inquiry Committee for the best institution in the state, KWASU, leaving others alone. Maybe nobody has told nor called the attention of His Excellency to the issues in these institutions, hence the question: “Shall we tell His Excellency?”
Your Excellency sir, probably you have not been told. As a patriot, I am bringing this to your attention. I am doing this taking into consideration the number of Kwara citizens schooling in Kwara State Polytechnic, and some of the graduates who have become laughing stock in the labour market as a result of academic deficiency and indiscipline.
Despite how some conscientious Kwarans have been requesting an investigation into the dealings of the polytechnic, it is surprising that in the face of huge corruption allegations and indicting claims, this administration has chosen to look away. Now the new academic session is here, heaven will not forgive us if we fail to tell His Excellency the truth.
While the polytechnic’s potentials for academic impact cannot be undermined, the past administration of Alhaji Moshood Elelu rather turned it into a money-making venture forgetting the goal of its creation. You wonder why the polytechnic’s products suffer stigmatization in the labour market as a result of stereotype? I suffered the same fate too if not for the privilege of other certificates.
The NBTE specification of carrying capacity over the years have become a rule not to be followed by the polytechnic. A department in the Institute of Finance and Management Studies boast of close to two thousand students. This is a department with the carrying capacity of just one hundred and eighty students. This anomaly, in turn, affects the learning atmosphere and effective knowledge sharing.
In turn, the polytechnic turned to a den of monsters, with unmistaken synonym with cultism and other highly rated forms of indiscipline — this can be proven by the introduction of military personnel in the polytechnic compound.
Where is the money generated by this overpopulated institution? Was it invested in the infrastructural development of the polytechnic or academic advancement?
Oh! before I forget, the administration of Moshood Elelu is a sheer giver of wealth, Buje Budanu — the funds are close to being shared between the state actors and the principal officers that served with him in the polytechnic more than anything. At least the Femi debacle, an ICT staff of the polytechnic, who was alleged to have fled with close to 300million naira in 2017 is a pointer to how shady the polytechnic’s dealings were.
Your Excellency sir, I was a Students’ Union government executive during my stay at the polytechnic. I can authoritatively narrate all those things that affected and still haunts the students if I have no evidence on other dealings that have to do with administrative.
As at last check, the total number of students in the school was close to 50,000, however, the polytechnic declares fraudulently the official figure in the region of 25,000 students. This is evident by the amount they remitted to the insurance brokers of the polytechnic. I mean health insurance and death insurance of the students in the polytechnic. Depriving students of the benefits of qualitative services paid for as part of the school fees, it is hard to believe that the school could not have also declared the same number of students to the state government. Toh, where are the remaining funds?
Your Excellency, the least of my problems should be about the running of the polytechnic, but it became my problem when it began to affect the academic standard for which the polytechnic is known for.
Permit me to tell you that the last time the polytechnic had a known recruitment exercise was in 2009. Within this period, there have been death cases, retirement of staff and equally transfer of services to other institutions as a result of lack of encouragement for the academic staff of the polytechnic, that which should include grants for research and other self-improvement packages for the lecturers and none-academics as the case may be.
Against recruiting capable hands, the polytechnic resolved to recruiting part-time lecturers, mostly HND graduates who can only be paid per hour with a maximum of 24 hours per month or thereabout, making 12 thousand naira per month or so. May I say these people are being used like full-time lecturers, the development which does not give them time to engage in other activities yet are underpaid.
The resultant effect is the corruption of money and sex for marks which is prevalent in the polytechnic. This cannot be excused as results of ineptitude in management and yucky lack of intent to cater for the educational needs of the children of the common man — the bulk of which are at the school.
The learning environment, Your Excellency, is equally inconducive. I studied Computer Science in the polytechnic. As at the time I was leaving in the year 2013, the polytechnic could not pride itself with a viable computer lab, in this era of digitalization and internet education.
As we speak, a polytechnic endowed with a sizeable number of humans, staff, and student of about 60,000 people have no central internet service; an academic environment of that note speaks volume of how backward the institution is, despite the huge revenue being generated from fraudulent means on a legal platform.
As at the last check, it was even difficult for the polytechnic to produce ID cards for her students. Yet they complain of immorality on campus when they cannot even properly identify the students.
Your Excellency sir, there is nothing you do not pay for at Kwara State Polytechnic yet there is nothing the students enjoy. The technicality for which the students of the polytechnic were reknowned is long dead.
A cursory look into the polytechnic’s Institute of Technology with 1970 curriculums will help a great deal in understanding how much expertise has been killed. Safe for TetFund, there have been no state government interventions on the infrastructural drive of the polytechnic, many thanks to years of irresponsible leadership.
Your excellency, the polytechnic is a source of income for some people, this which is affecting the academic purpose of which it is created. The trend has continued even with the change in leadership.
The polytechnic has collected from prospective students some amount for screening exercise as a prerequisite for admission for doing next to nothing in screening exercise. You wonder why they can not conduct screening? Vissionlessnes is the simple answer.
For years now, they couldn’t establish a computer based test center, but would rather go the path of internet screening exercise which is aiding examination malpractice.
The new leadership has rightly canceled it on moral grounds but immorally decided to bypass rigorous screening outrightly. It appears attending the school is all that matters now, not admission to learn; all they want is the money and in turn, give them certificates.
Your Excellency, your privatization and industrialization agenda can only have desired impacts when it blends with right human capital development that will man implementation and drive its growth and sustainability.
The quality of education we have will, in turn, determine the output that will be given. Fights against unemployment will be aided by the right education of the citizens.
It is thus important that we embark on holistic reforms of the only technical tertiary institution due to the state. This will need the guts of a visionary governor to put required manpower equipped with the right ethics and technical know-how at the helm of affairs.
Your Excellency, the only polytechnic in the state needs your urgent intervention. In my opinion, we should start with a replica of the investigation committee set-up for Kwara State University Malete, to bring to book those who brought ignobility on education in the state.
Moshood Elelu’s administration has to explain how and why quality was substituted for quantity. Allowing him/ them to go without being accountable for all the atrocities committed against humanity is a conspiracy against the state.
I brought this issue to your notice with the intention that you might have not been properly briefed on the distasteful state of the state polytechnic. I have equally written on behalf of the alumni of the polytechnic who wants her development and growth. We do hope you will take the necessary steps for the state and humanity.
Tajudeen Habeeb is a proud alumni of the polytechnic and a fellow of the Young Africa Leadership fellowship.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed are those of the writer and do not represent the position of INSIDER or any of its reporters/editors.