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Imo State Polytechnic: My story, my journey (3)

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Interview with Rev. Fr.  Dr. Wence Madu – Rector, Imo State Polytechnic Umuagwo

Rev. Fr.  Dr. Wencenslaus Madu (Rector)

Rev. Fr. Dr. Wencenslaus Madu (Rector)

 

There have been visible changes and eloquent innovations at the Imo State Polytechnic  Umuagwo. The Editor of The Leader newspaper was granted an exclusive interview recently by the Rector of the institution Rev. Fr. Dr. Wence Madu where  he spoke extensively  about his vision, challenges and dreams for the polytechnic.

 

Q.  Do you feel the education system in this country needs some reforms?

 

A. The education system needs urgent reform.  Emphasis on paper qualifications has not helped.  Over the years we have had a lot of bickerings concerning the HND holders and degree holders, and it is still there.  Employers discriminate, if two people go for employment interview, they look at the degree as a superior qualification and in terms of salary and position they place degree holders before you can talk about somebody with HND.  Polytechnics in US and Germany are the ones producing the best degrees and best qualifications and best skilled people.  That is the thing.  We need to go back to hands-on training.  If you are doing chemistry, be sure you have to do chemistry with proper laboratory kits.  You don’t do this thing they call “alternative to practical”.  Nothing can suffice for practical, so you have to do the real thing.  So the reform that I foresee is a reform whereby we do hands-on and then the government should not have monopoly in education.  They should also partner with other institutions, stakeholders, be they factory, be they  the church and see how we can achieve wholistic formation in education.  Education that is purely academic without moral is deficient.  Just like education you have given in a climate where the practical is not there.  So if a man comes out with a degree in aeronautic engineering and has not seen an aeroplane, does not know how to loosen a knot, he cannot start one and does not have good manners to carry himself with respect.  Its useless.  So, the reform must be wholistic whereby we bring the morality, the skills and the certificate together and then remove all those dichotomy.  People should participate at their own level, whether they are National Diploma, HND, Degree holders etc.  There must be a way to create a bridge between all these.

 

Imo Poly ict centre

Imo Poly ict centre

Q.  This institution is a beneficiary of the current free education progamme by the state government, what is your task on that?  Do you think it is working?  Do you think it is effective?  Do you think it is the best approach to supporting your students who really need such help?

 

Ans. The free education policy of government is real in Imo State Polytechnic. We are a beneficiary institution and for the past year we have upgraded this policy and the way it works is that the government will issue scholarship cheques to only indigenes of Imo State and also issue another cheque that will be 50% to non-indigenes studying at the Imo Polytechnic.  At the ND level the value of the scholarship is sixty thousand Naira and at the level of HND eighty thousand.  We have removed other forms of collections in the polytechnic apart from other fees that are payable to vendors or contractors like computer or ICT or health insurance or students hostel – those kinds of fees that do not go to the school.  But to show that this Imo State policy is working, we are not owing any arrears of salary and our wage bill is a hundred million and for the past four months, students are at home due to the ongoing strike and government through this scholarship programme has been able to continue paying the salaries of workers.  So I believe it is a laudable programme.  The only problem is the sustainability of this programme, because I don’t know of any other governor who would be able to sacrifice his/her security vote or get money here and there in order to pay.  There is need to plan for the sustainability of the programme, I think it is somethi8ng good for Imo State.

 

Q.  There has been news about your work with ISOPADEC, how did you get yourself there?

 

Ans.  As a point of correction, I am not working for ISOPADEC or a staff of the commission.  What happened is as Rector of Imo State Polytechnic, the governor appointed me his technical adviser.  Pertaining to the five hundred million naira revolving loan for youth empowerment under the ISOPADEC Fund, my role is simply to design programmes and training and advise on the utilization of that fund.  It is neither to disburse the fund nor to decide on it.  I even heard they said I have taken the job that the Archbishop of Owerri rejected.  This has nothing to do with my appointment.  My involvement is in so far as the training that will be conducted at the Imo State Polytechnic can go, because there we have a lot of skills areas that will be of benefit, either utilizing our consulting services or agro-allied skills or our engineering skills in order to help those who are beginners who really want to make a difference in the ISOPADEC region.   If that money does not bring about development in the region because somebody collected it and traveled to Abuja, it doesn’t make much sense.  My involvement is son the level of advice and youth empowerment which I think is proper of my priestly duties.

 

Q.  Has there been any problem with the sharing of the money?

 

Ans. Like any Nigerian thing, and young people, when they hear about  money, they don’t want to follow any procedure, they want their money, it is their money.  But I believe that apart from the hiccups, they have been able to disburse the funds and we are now at a stage where we are going to within few weeks or months to mount training programmes for the beneficiaries of the funds.

 

Q. Was there any plan to relocate Imo Polytechnic from Umuagwo or was it a plan for a multi-campus institution?

 

Ans.  From the government side there was never a time the Imo State Polytechnic was going to be relocated to any part.  The facilities and the potentials available at Umuagwo cannot be found replicated in any part of Imo State.  So talking about relocation is in my thinking a wrong concept.  What happened is that Imo State Government approved a proposal passed through the Imo House of Assembly to establish a multi-campus polytechnic in Imo State with its headquarters at Umuagwo and the idea is to expand the services and guarantee access to tertiary education to a majority of Imo indigenes.  You know over the last five years, Imo State graduates of secondary school top the list of those who sit for JAMB.  So, this idea of establishing a multi-campus will guarantee more access and in that way continue to change our youths who are able to use their hands and talents through technological education.  So, a multi-campus polytechnic is a good idea the only problem is that it costs a little more to operate but I believe given the governor’s record concerning education, what he is doing presently at Imo State Polytechnic Umuagwo  will make the institution one of the best in Nigeria and he has already voted some money to begin the rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure at Orlu and Mbano.  I believe that he will be able to fund this for the benefit of the youths of Imo State.

 

Q.  Is the Governor building these campuses from the scratch?

 

Ans.  The campus at Orlu used to be the Imo State Technological Skill Acquisition Institute and the campus at Mbano used to be the Co-operative College of Imo State.  So they are existing, it is just to do some renovation and also get some students going.  The certificate will still be Imo State Polytechnic Umuagwo which is the main campus.

 

Q.  Is there any formular for job employment here in the college?

 

Ans.  Imo State Polytechnic is not hiring a lot of unskilled people.  The major focus of the Rector is to guarantee accreditation of the programmes that lost accreditation over the years and in order to get them to their HND status.  We are not talking about somebody who has just finished from secondary school.  When I came on board the Governor gave approval to hire senior academic staff and those are the ones I have hired.

In a few instances we have hired some technical support staff but they are very few but if you look at the 1900 staff strength at Imo State Polytechnic 150 of them come from Ohaji Egbema.  My own local government of Isu has less than 20 people (infact 50) even though I am still the Rector but again when you look at it, this 150 are in the junior cadre which is also what conventionally approved that those junior cadre staff position are usually got from the locality.  I believe that we still have the arrangement ongoing for recruiting of (whenever we have a preference) between an Ohaji person and someone at the higher level; we will always favour the Ohaji person.  So, I don’t single out Mgbirichi people for employment and I don’t have employment to give except at the senior academic level.

 

Interviewer – Thank you, I think we have covered so much.

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USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas

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USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

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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.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

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.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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