The degree of mismanagement at Abiapoly is unacceptable -Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji
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The degree of mismanagement at Abiapoly is unacceptable -Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji
InanexclusiveinterviewgrantedtoFactNews,theAbia state commissionerforeducation,Prof.IkechiMgbojidisclosed that thereductioninthetuitionfeeofAbiansstudyinginthe state’s universityisanexpressshowofGovernment’ssensitivity to theirplight.Hesaidthegovernmentiswillingtoalleviate the burdenofAbians. He also spoke on the salary payment situation at Abia State polytechnic Aba.
FactNews: Hon Commissioner, What informed the recent announcement by Government on the N10,000 reduction intuition Fees at Abia State university?
Prof Ikechi: This is not a political gimmick, government is sensitive to the plight of Abians: parents and guardians who have their wards in ABSU. By reducing the tuition, we are trying to offset the cost of Education. Government have also increased subvention to the University from N100 million to N120 million.
FactNews: Recently Abia State Came tops in the 2016 WAEC results , are there rewards for hardwork and excellence?
Prof Ikechi: Of course, the Governor has directed that names of the best 17 Students be submitted to him. There will also be individual recognition accorded to each of the best students for the 2015 and 2016 excelling students.
FactNews: What informed the decision of the Government to donate motorcycles to Education Inspectors in the state?
Prof Ikechi: The State Government gave the ministry of education 40 Motorbikes for supervision of Schools in the rural areas. Unlike in the past where Government gives one Hilux Van for Each LGA, A hilux van is not enough to cover the vast terrain of the state. We need to have more legs and foots on the ground for effective supervision and beable to penetrate interior locations. The idea is to move away from the past. It would be easy now to inspect and supervise schools in the State. To look at them and check on them. We have Ndi Abia who live and toil outside the cities. With this effort, we are trying to connect and reach all Abians irrespective of where you live.
FactNews: Please shed more light on the movement of the Faculty of Law and Humanities to Umuahia and faculty of engineering to Aba.
Prof Ikechi: No, no, no, we did not move Humanities. Humanities still remain at UTURU. What government have done is to move Faculty of Business Studies and Faculty of Law to Umuahia. These are professional courses. It is not enough to have them located in same place, but in places where it would be easy for students to access all other resources, for example, the e-Library. The Judiciary have it's Headquarters here in Umuahia. Their fantastic Library in the High Court, Customary Court etc, are in Umuahia. So a law student who is to study law in Umuahia is at liberty and have easy access to the facilities compared to it's current location. It is also easier for lawyers to go to this campuses to teach students. We also moved Engineering faculty to Aba. Aba is SME capital of subsaharan Africa. So many students would have easy access to do practical and work in Aba.
FactNews: Are there existing buildings and structures to house these moved Faculties?
Prof Ikechi: Oh yes, yes. They would take off from the old Alvan Ikokwu Campus here. It's a fantastic place. There are already structures in place. We expect the new Faculty of Law to take off October 1st this year.
FactNews: Hon Commissioner, We are aware that Abia State University is up to date with payment of workers salary. Why is it that Abia State Polytechnic, with more student populationhave backlog of salaries, why are we not sacking those that ought to be sacked to ensure free flow of Academic Activities?
Prof Ikechi: We are aware of the situation in Abia Polytechnic. Government has sent investigators to get first hand report of the situation. The problem with Abia Polytechnic is not scarcity of funds, the school generates so much money to run It'saffairs. But we believe over the years that institution has suffered by way of mismanagement, misappropriation of resources. Government is taking this issue seriously. That is why Government is reviewing the various findings. Very soon you will hear of the various measures that would be adopted to restore sanity at the institution. This is a school that generates over N1 billion and yet have difficulty in paying salaries. Records indicate that the school generated over N1 billion in the last 14 months. Itis totally unacceptable that the degree of mismanagement is continuing. Those responsible would be brought to book and sanity would be restored in that institution. And those who have been indicted for what they call "sorting"would be dealt with. That institution have over 43 Bank accounts. There are only 25 banks in Nigeria. How can one institution operate 43 Bank accounts and expect to have control over it's finances? If you as an individual operate 43 bank accounts, you are sure tolose your money without being sure that your money is even somewhere in a phony account. There is a lot of work to be done and I can assure you that Government is leaving no stone unturned to right the wrongs in that institution.
FactNews: Hon Commissioner, is Government still paying tertiary institutions in Abia Subvebtions? subvention? We ask because a staff of the college of Education Arochukwu claimed that her provost came to Umuahia to collect subvention and was reportedly told that he should go toOchendo that appointed him. Is the government paying subvention to college of Education Arochukwu and Abia state Polytechnic?
Prof Ikechi: Yes, yes. Those are some of the issues we are looking into. But the fact remains that Government still grant Subvention to college of Education and Abia Polytechnic. But we believe it's high time these institutions generate their own funds to run it's affairs. The institutions are capable, if properly managed, to run It's affairs and even generate revenue for the State Government. If Abia polytechnic, for instance, was a privately owned institution there is no way it would have close to One thousandTwo Hundred Staff in its payroll. It is impossible.
FactNews: Still on the recently announced reduction in tuition fee of Students of Abia State University. Will we be right to say ABSU contributes to the Internally Generated Revenue of the State?
Prof Ikechi: Well, I won't put it that way. It contributes to the Economic Development of the State. Bear in mind it's location is peculiar, in Okigwe IMO state. So IMO state derives more Economically compared to Abia.
FactNews: The question relates to the fees paid by the Students, does it actually go to the State Purse?
Prof Ikechi: No, no, no.it does not., it does not actually go into the State purse. The University is a self Standing institution. But because it is a service industry owned by the State, the government is morally bound not to let it suffer financially, that's why government still grant it subvention. It is believed that going forward, it is possible for that institution to stand on its own feet without excessive reliance on government intervention. The current Vice Chancellor has done well, he has been able to clear backlog of salaries with minimal subvention. If they continue on that same path, in nodistant future, the School will totally stand on it's ownand possibly generate funds for the state. It is one step at atime. We are happy they no longer require huge subvention from the State. If they continue on that trajectory, we expect them to be a self sufficient institution.
FactNews: With Reduction in Tuition Fees now, are you confident it won't affect how the State Government executes it's capital projects?
Prof Ikechi: This wasn't magic, it wasn't voodoo economics. It is a well thought out policy. We looked at the inflow into the coffers of the School, we looked at the outflow, we came to a well rseaoned conclusion that the University can afford to grant a N10,000 reduction to Abia Indigenous Students.
FactNews: We are looking at the Current testingMethod of JAMB and May be one day WAEC. We noticed that Abia Students in the villages cannot write JAMB Examinations in the Village, they need to come to the urban centers. What is the plan of the State in terms of ICT penetrating the rural areas?
Prof Ikechi: Since the inception of this Computer Based Test, it's obvious that this particular system favors majority of urban dwellers at the detriment of rural dwellers. Government is working at creating CBT centers in some of those rural areas.. It is a programme we must accomplish within the next 12 months.
FactNews: Finally Sir. The ongoing Verification for E4E Programme. A lot of people are excited but many still do notunderstand what the programme hopes toachieve. Can you briefly explain the aimof the programme?
Prof Ikechi: Just to give a Brief information about the programme. When the Government came on board, it realised that hugenumber of Abians are either mis Educated, under educated,unemployed, underemployed or even unemployable by nature of their education or lack thereof, needed to be brushed up. We decided to start up the E4E programme. It's a way of changing the systemic problem we have in the state. It facilitates Vocational training, Artisanship, and the likes. We have many young people out there in the streets who possess different kinds of paper qualifications who are unable to stand on their own. They keep on looking for jobs that doesn't exist. Government decided to retrain these young people in certain areas so that they can stand on their own feets. It is a well thought out programme. We have done the initial profiling of Abians, we have about Thirty Five Thousand of them. We have segmented them into the various training cadres. The work is still ongoing and ultimately we expect over 200,000 Abians to benefit from the program.