The Provost of the Federal College of Land Resources Technology (FECOLART) Owerri Owerri, Hilary Ucheagwu recently granted an exclusive interview to THE LEADER during which he explained in some details the purpose and activities of the institution.
Questions fielded ranged from the objectives of the college, job prospects of her graduates, to quality of staff, infrastructural and other achievements so far.
Please read on:
The Leader – What are the Federal Government objectives for establishing the institution, Federal College of Land Resources Technology? Does the institution exist in other states?
Provost – Thank you, John. The Federal Government has four clear objectives for establishing the college or in other words the mandates of the college include:
1. To train and develop skilled professionals (middle level manpower) in the areas of land resources management and environmental conservation.
2. To offer National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) courses in the application of Technology and Management to Agriculture and Food Production.
3. To carry out soil management advisory services to Government, Land users and relevant agencies.
4. To develop and organize short duration courses for relevant serving professionals and private organizations in order to keep them abreast on modern techniques in the areas of Land Resources Management and Environmental Conservation.
The institutions being specialized in nature, presently exist in two states of the federation covering two broad ecological regions.
One of the colleges is at Kuru – Jos, Plateau State. It covers the Northern ecological zone and was established in 1968. The other one is at Owerri, Imo State. This covers the Southern ecological zone and was established in 1992.
The Leader –What qualification (certificate) do those who pass through her acquire? Do they participate in the National Youth Service Programme?
Provost – At the successful completion of their programmes, those who pass through any of the two colleges are awarded either, a National Diploma (ND) or a Higher National Diploma (HND) as the case may be.
The graduates being products of tertiary institutions, whose academic programmes are regulated by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and whose admissions to the colleges are through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) participate in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in Nigeria.
The Leader – What are the job prospects of those who graduate from your institution?
Provost – The graduate’s job prospects are bright and depend on first and foremost their areas of specializations. They have equal chances with their counterparts from other tertiary institutions. I will say that they have the advantage of not only acquiring the theoretical knowledge but the practical skills of knowing how to apply the knowledge. This is exactly what our country needs now. The sad situation the nation is experiencing now is as a result of having a preponderance of unemployable graduates who lack the requisite practical skills to back-up their theoretical knowledge.
What our nation needs to move forward in terms of technological advancement and economic growth is transformation from the era of theoretical education to that of knowledge backed with skills, in other words, technical knowledge. This will undoubtedly, drastically reduce unemployment because we will have job creators rather than job seekers.
The Leader – What is your method of Admission of students, how many are currently in your enrolment?
Provost – The method of admission of students to the institution is through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
Presently, the college has a total number of Six Hundred and Fifty Five students (655 students) 510 at ND level and 145 at HND level at the various programmes.
The Leader – What about your staff? What is the minimum qualification you engage as lecturers and how many are they?
Provost – We have very qualified staff in all the programmes
The minimum qualification, to be an academic lecturer is a Masters degree in the relevant discipline as prescribed by the NBTE. We have quite a good number who have acquired their doctoral degrees (Ph.D) and a good number at the verge of obtaining their Ph.Ds at various universities in Nigeria.
We have instructors. These are academic staff who possess the Higher National and Postgraduates Diploma Certificates. They assist the lecturers in the field supervision of students’ practicals in the areas of entrepreneurial skill acquisition.
They also conduct practical sessions in all the programmes offered by the college.
The college does not have all the required academic lecturers in all the disciplines. We have 19 permanent academic lecturers and 30 instructors. We supplement with part-time lecturers (42) hired from sister institutions in Owerri, in the programmes where the college is in deficit.
The Leader – We understand that the permanent site of FECOLART is at Oforola/Obosima in Owerri West LGA. How far have you gone in developing the place and when does your institution plan to finally relocate there?
Provost – Yes, that is correct.
A few infrastructural developments took place that enabled the first phase of the college relocation to the permanent site in 2004. These include:
(a) – Construction of two lecture halls of four rooms each.
(b) – Construction of Survey and Geoinformatics Workshop.
(c) Construction of the Tractor shade.
(d) – The Construction of ETF male and female hostels
(e) – The Construction of the Administrative block.
(f) – The Construction of the three students hostels.
The last three d, e, and f were at various stages of construction and were completed and furnished by the incumbent administration.
The present administration started and completed the following as contained in the college master plan.
– Construction of 2000 capacity main library complex.
– Construction of 2000 capacity auditorium.
– Construction of 13 units of staff Qtrs.
– Construction of 200 capacity student hostels.
– Construction and furnishing of laboratory complex housing the (Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Soil and Science).
– Sinking of 20,000 litre borehole capacity including reticulation and construction of overhead storage tank.
– Procurement of 2 Nos. 30 KVA Mikano Sound Proof GEN
Procurement of 2 Nos. 100 KVA Perkins Sound Proof GENs
– Procurement of brand new vehicles
3 Nos. 30 seater Coaster Buses
3 Nos. Hilux Vans.
1 No. Toyota Hiace Bus (18 Seater).
– Construction of Sports Arena – ongoing.
– Construction of Convocation Arena – Ongoing
– Construction of 2 Blocks of lecture halls – ongoing
– Fencing of 600 metres of College premises.
– Tarring of 10km access road – ongoing.
– Construction of a block of lecture hall (TETfund)
– Construction of Departmental Library (TETfund)
– Construction of a state of the art INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CENTRE – ongoing
Most of the infrastructural developments were funded through the 2011 capital allocation.
With majority of the projects completed, the college finally relocated to the permanent site in February, 2012.
All the academic programmes are now operational at the permanent site. The Provost’s office, Registrar’s and Bursar’s office will relocate shortly; as soon as all logistic arrangements are concluded.
The Leader – What are challenges facing the institution, in other words, your prospects and problems?.
Provost – The Basic Challenge facing our college is funding and the unfriendly disposition of the host community.
The college used to be a beneficiary of the tertiary Education Trust Fund. But the recent policy of the Government excluding all Colleges of Agriculture as beneficiaries has a devastating and crushing effect on the infrastructural development of the college.
The paltry capital allocation cannot do much.
The youths of the host communities, who do not seem to appreciate the importance of sitting the college in their locality compound the problem by destroying the infrastructures, disturbing and distracting the Government Contractors working at the sites.
We therefore, wish to use this opportunity to appeal to all well-meaning, especially people from the College Catchments area to come to the College aid for its rapid development.
HRH Eze Peter Opara inaugurates cabinet
…As traditional leadership gets boost at Umunumo Ancient Kingdom
By Magnus Ibe
The Traditional leadership of Umunumo Autonomous Community, Ehime Mbano LGA of Imo State received a resounding boost on Sunday August 23, as the cabinet members were formally inaugurated by HRH, Eze Peter Chima Opara (Eze Udo II).
The assemblage of top brass personalities into the cabinet is indicative of robust prospects for the growth and development of the Ancient Autonomous Community.
Inaugurating the members of the Eze-in-Council, the Royal Father charged the inductees to shun personal interest and put the community in the front burner for a rapid transformation and development. He enjoined the cabinet members to be proactive, articulative and dogged about the welfare of the community, employment and empowerment of the youths so that a new chapter is enacted.
According to him, many are called, but few are chosen. He charged them to move the community to the next level by articulating right attitude and formulate policies that will accelerate the development of the community. He cautioned against indolence and insubordination that can retard the unity and development of the community.
In his remarks, the President-General of the Town, Chief Godwin Uwah working in synergy with the royal father advised that the various Town Unions leadership should synergize and work in one page with the cabinet members. Chief Godwin Uwah observed that membership of cabinet is subject to review every four years.
Among the cabinet members comprise Chief Godwin Uwah PG, Sir MCN Asawalam (KSM), Chief Chidi Ogueri, Chief Sir Emmanuel Ibe, Chief Aloka Alexander, Nze H.D. Eze, Mr. Emeto K. Michael, Nze Godwin Amaku, Mr. Columba Ohazurike, Chief Mel Daimeon Osuji (Omereoha), Hon Ononamadu Emeka Joseph, Chief Peter Crown Duru, Chief Romanus Ogueri, Comrade Godwin Ihekwoaba, Nze Romanus Chukwu, Nze Vincent Ukah, Chief E. Evaristus Okafor, Chief S. Okele, Nze Clement Iwueze, Hon Felix Iwuji, Chief S. Obikaonu, Hon Kelechi Iwueze, Mr. Joseph Obi Onyema (Deputy PG), ACP H. Agbiogwu, Chief M.C. Okoro, Nze Nneji Boniface, Nze Charles Nwokoro, Nze Edmund Nwokeke, Chief Joseph Anosike, Chief M. Dingwo, Chief Columbia Isikuma, Chief Oliver Agbaso, Ichie Bernard Nwohiri, Nze Titus Iwunze, Chief Romanus Ijejiobi and all village chairmen constitute members of the enlarged cabinet. HRH Eze P. Alozie, Abunumo I graced the event.
In a vote of thanks, Chief Mel-Daimeon Osuji, promised on behalf of the members of the Eze’s cabinet to live above board like Caesar’s wife. He observed that he was humbled to speak on behalf of the top brass personalities who constitute the Eze-in-Council and also made a personal donation of one million naira.
In his contribution, Hon. Emeka Joseph Ononammadu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Enugu State, who is also a member of the cabinet made a mouthwatering financial support and others including Sir. M.C.N. Asawalam donated handsomely.
Inducting the new cabinet members, Msgr. Jerry Ofoegbu prayed for God’s guidance and wisdom for the Royal Father and the cabinet members.
He eulogized the royal father for putting God first in his nascent leadership. He admonished the PG and the members of the Eze-in-Council to ensure peace and unity in their various domain. He spoke against injustice, insubordination and manipulative divisive tendencies that will sow seed of discord in the community. He prayed God to bless the royal father with the Wisdom of Solomon.
Msgr. Ofoegbu prayed for longitivity, peace and development of Umunumo Ama-Iri community. He cautioned against sectionalism and maltreatment of widows, orphans and the less privileged in the society.
Traditional cuisine of palm wine, Ugba with stockfish and other local delicacies were served to all and sundry. Eze & Ugoeze Ekwunno, Eze Umuezeala Oguara graced the event amid pomp and pageantry.
Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital
The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.
The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.
Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.
“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”
Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”
The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.
Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.
Aham Umukwu-Odenkwume Bridge, a death trap – Eze Iwuoha
…As truck survives crash into river
By Magnus Ibe
The Traditional Ruler of Odenkwume Autonomous Community, HRH, Eze Iwuoha Austin (Nkwume II) has cried out against the deplorable and deadly condition of the Aham Umukwu-Odenkwume bridge which he described as a death trap and an accident waiting to happen.
According to him, the very narrow and dilapidated bridge pose serious threat to lives of natives and commuters plying the only route leading through his domain to their kits and kins in Obowo Local Government Area.
Nkwume (II), disclosed that several persons have lost their lives through accidents occasioned by the porous and deadly bridge. He narrated a chilling experience of how two occupants of a car drowned in the Aham River when their vehicle which could not climb the high hill, descended and crashed into the river, killing the two occupants before any help could come.
Corroborating their nasty experience, Hon. Julius Ogoke, the Palace Public Relations officer narrated how an Okada rider crashed and died on the very deadly bridge.
A near fatal accident occurred on the same bridge on the afternoon of Thursday August 27th when a truck with Registration No Lagos AGL 504 conveying crates of beer crashed into the same bridge. It was only through divine intervention that children who were swimming at the time cheated death by whiskers and were lucky as the truck hung on the base of the bridge.
Concurring to the views of Hon. Ogoke, Okenze Gerald Kekeocha and Nze Augustus Ibe observed that the leaders of the community are contemplating shutting down the bridge to heavy duty trucks and trailers to avoid the collapse of the bridge.
The duo posited that the community began the construction of the bridge in 1977 through communal efforts. They expressed worry at the present state of the bridge which is a smooth ride from Orieagu and Aguneze axis.
Investigation reveals that the construction of the bridge which was allegedly part of the design awarded under the defunct Ikedi Ohakim administration was abandoned by contractors after was ousted by former Governor Rochas Okorocha.
A road user, Dr. Bonaventuru Chukwu described the bridge as a flash point for criminal activities as hoodlums capitalize on the porous nature of the bridge to snatch cars kidnapp, rob and fleece commuters of cash and valuables.
It was observed that natives of Odenkwume Community embarked on remedial measures of dropping stones on the craters on both sides of the bridge. They also tried to rehabilitate the bridge with make-shift support of bamboo sticks with mixture of cement and chippings.
The leaders of the community made a compassionate appeal to the state government to quickly intervene before the bridge caves in.
Vehicular traffic on the rout increases daily as a result of the immotorable road networks at Ihitte-Uboma, Ehime-Mbano, Mbaise and Obowo as commuters divert through the road which is a smooth ride.
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