There is no gainsaying the fact that education remains the bedrock of development and measure of standard of living of any society. This importance of education is more appreciated when the standard is of high quality. Little wonder the value governments of different countries place on education, particularly in their budgetary allocations.
Nigeria, as one of such countries has continued to place premium on education at various levels – primary to tetiary. One classical way such interested has been demonstrated was the creation of the Tetiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), an interventionist agency established by Act of Parliament saddled with the responsibility of disbursement, management, and monitoring of education tax to government-owned tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Through provision of badly needed funds as well as ensuring their equitable allocation to the three tiers of its beneficiaries in line with the enabling laws governing the activities of the agency, academic institutions have continued to enjoy improved quality infrastructure, scholarship and grants for staff to enhance productivity and quality of higher education through TETFund’s interventions.
One of such institutions is the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State which recently witnessed commissioning of five projects by President Mohammadu Buhari. The iconic projects worth N697, 924, 427.23 included Multipurpose Hall, ICT Main Building, School of Renewable Energy Building, Agricultural Technology Engineering Building and Chemical Engineering Laboratory.
Two other capital projects, namely Dean’s Complex and Food Technology Laboratory were also commissioned by the Ag. Chairman of Governing Council of the institution, Hon. Omonibeke Kemelayefa.
Speaking during the commissioning of the legacy projects, Buhari described education as critical element in socio-economic development of nations, stressing that the projects would in no small measure further enhance teaching and learning and improvement of academic standards.
The President, who was represented by Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah urged the Polytechnic to take full advantage of the facilities and make good use of them for educational and vocational development of the students.
He said, “You would agree with me that my administration’s support for intervention activities of TETFund, including recent upward review of Education Tax from 2 to 2.5 percent has in no small measure contributed to the success stories the Fund and its beneficiary institutions have continued to record.
“It is on record that through the support of the Federal Government, TETFund has performed exceptionally in the provision of physical infrastructure, support for academic staff training and development, book publication, ICT, Research and Development amongst others in public tertiary educational institutions across the country.”
He added, “It is important to note the Fund has also sponsored 101 lecturers from this Polytechnic for Ph.D degrees in both foreign and local institutions totaling N487,527,656.10; 60 for Masters Degrees in both foreign and local institutions totaling N293,102,460.00.
“90 staff have also been sponsored to attend Conferences Attendance in both foreign and local totaling-N111,471,159.50.”
Also speaking, Executive Secretary, TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono stated that the projects were testimony to government’s commitment to ensuring institutions across the country attained high global ranking, at the same time become more competitive in their mandate as tertiary institutions.
Represented by Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Arc. Babatunde Olajide, Echono added that the commissioning of the projects was a major way of showcasing achievements of the current government in the tertiary education sub-sector in view of the large volume of funds released for the provision of needed infrastructure through the Fund.
He said, “Our gathering here today points to one thing – resilience, persistence, and determination to ensure the successful delivery of projects funded from public funds allocated by the Federal Government through TETFund for the provision of requisite infrastructure to aid teaching, learning, research, and skills development, in line with the mandate that sets up the Fund.
“On behalf of the Board and Management of TETFund, I say congratulations to the Rector and members of the Polytechnic Management for achieving this feat. I equally salute the members of the Governing Council and staff of the Polytechnic for the support provided in making these projects a huge success.
“In the almost eight years of this administration, now out-going, the Federal Government, through TETFund has heavily invested in the provision of requisite infrastructure to aid teaching, learning, research, and skills development in the nation’s public tertiary institutions spread all over the country.
“TETFund as an interventionist agency that is established by the Act of Parliament, has ensured equity in the allocation of funds to the three tiers of its beneficiaries in line with the enabling laws governing the activities of the agency.
“We are indeed delighted to use the event of this commissioning of projects to showcase the achievements of this government in the tertiary education sub-sector considering the large volume of funds released for the provision of needed infrastructure through the Fund.
“This indeed is a testimony to the commitment of government to ensuring that our institutions attain high global ranking and become more competitive in their mandate as tertiary institutions.
“Government is irrevocably committed to providing conducive learning environment that would enable our scholar students thrive and excel among their peers in the world. Although we may have experienced several economic hiccups in the nation’s economy, the Fund is not deterred, and we remain focused on the delivery of our mandate and supporting excellence and innovations at our institutions of learning.
“In this event, five (5) TETFund-sponsored projects will be commissioned, and we are greatly honoured to have our Honourable Minister of State for Education, here to commission them. The total cost of the projects to be commissioned amount to N697,924,427.23 executed under different intervention headings.”
While commending the polytechnic management for sticking substantially to the guidelines of the Fund in managing the projects to completion, the TETFund boss implored her to ensure proper usage and maintenance of the buildings, to serve generations coming behind to acquire learning in the institution.
“As an agency of government, let me assure you that the Fund will continue to support our beneficiaries within the provisions defined by the Board of Trustees as enshrined in the enabling laws of the Fund,” he restated.
Earlier, Rector of the institution, Engr. Dr. Francisca Nwafulugo reiterated her administration’s committment to ensuring that Federal Polytechnic Oko remained a world class renown Institution.
She praised the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for its massive support to the Polytechnic, revealing that the institution was almost 100% accreditation compliant, including mounting of new programs namely Chemical Engineering and Viticulture with NBTE’s approval.
She said, “These building projects that are being commissioned today is in line with the vision of my administration to bequeath enviable infrastructural development to the Institution. We have other ongoing infrastructural buildings at various levels of completion. I am hopeful that soon we will have another round of project commissioning. What we are seeing today is the culmination of a journey that started in 2019 when I came into office as Rector.
“Then we were faced with many challenges including the problem of expiration of accreditation granted to many of the programs being offered in the Institution. However, in order to give our students an enriched academic experience we had to embark on massive accreditation exercise, following which 166 NBTE officials and resource persons visited our Institution for accreditation exercise. Consequently 62 programmes were granted accreditation. Since then accreditation has become an ongoing exercise in the Institution.
“As a result of this, our Institution has become almost 100 percent accreditation compliant. In addition to accreditation of existing programmes, my administration mounted new programmes like Chemical Engineering and Horticulture which have been approved by NBTE.
“On this note I will like to appreciate the Executive Secretary of National Board For Technical Education, NBTE Prof Idris Bugaje for his support and unwavering commitment to the growth and development of Federal Polytechnic Oko.
“In our quest to enhance the quality, capacity and credibility of graduands from our Institution, we have overhauled the sitting arrangement during examination in the Institution in order to eliminate exam malpractice or at least reduce it to the barest minimum. With this development, students have no choice than to study their books knowing that examination malpractice is not an option. We have gone further to equip the departments with modern and cutting edge machine and facilities.
“Most of these equipment are courtesy of TETfund intervention. I must say that TETfund has been of invaluable aid to our Institution. I want to specially thank the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc Sonny S. T Echono for the numerous TETfund projects that have been hosted in our Institution.
“However, in view of the many challenges facing the Institution we want to humbly request for citing of more TETfund projects. I will like to use this opportunity to thank the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and the Minister of State for Education, Rt. Hon Goodluck Nanah Opiah for their unalloyed commitment to the developmental needs of Federal Polytechnic Oko.”
Nwafulugo however raised the alarm over rampaging gully erosion that had posed serious threats to lives and infrastructure in the campus.
She regretted that the 1.23km road built in the institution three years ago had already been washed away by the erosion, calling for federal government’s quick intervention.
“I will like to draw the attention of the Hon. Minister and Executive Secretary TETfund to the rampaging gully erosion that has become a major threat to lives and infrastructure and to appeal for help. The gully has eroded part of the 1.23km road that was built two years ago by the Federal Ministry of works. We had already written to relevant Federal government agencies and followed up on that but we are yet to see any action.
“Though we have tried our little way to do some palliative measures in order to counter escalation of the gully but it is not enough. It requires serious government intervention to handle the gully.
“My administration is committed in ensuring that Federal Polytechnic Oko is a world class renown Institution. We have continued making progressive steps in this regard and we will never relent,” she stressed.