By Louis Amoke
Recently, the Enugu State House of Assembly enacted a law amending the Institute of Management and Technology Law, Cap. 97, Revised Laws of Enugu State, 2004.
The said law, which is now, cited as the Institute of Management and Technology (Amendment) Law, 2016, among other salient modifications, amended sections 9(1); 24 (1)(a); 25 and 27(1) of the old law, by adding the word “degrees” immediately after the words “award”; “certificates”; “final”; and “awarding”, respectively, making the foremost polytechnic a degree-awarding institution.
Sponsored by the House Leader, Rt. Hon. Ikechukwu Ezeugwu as an executive bill, the institute’s new law in section 3(1) also amended the principal law to redefine its set objectives in line with the vision and repositioning spirit of Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration.
In a bid to redefine and actualize the institution’s set objectives, the new law added that the institute shall provide facilities for learning; promote research and other means of advancing knowledge; stimulate, sustain and advance interest in entrepreneurship, scientific growth and agriculture, among others.
It could be recalled that Gov. Ugwuanyi, on assumption of office, took prompt and visionary steps aimed at revamping and repositioning the institute and other state-owned tertiary institutions in keeping with his campaign promise “to ensure that all our children have access to quality education that will enable them to compete in today’s global economy”.
A few months after his inauguration, the governor was expedient enough to intervene in the challenges confronting the institute with regard to a backlog of unpaid workers’ salaries, which major part of them were inherited from the previous administration.
At the interactive meeting with stakeholders of the state in November 2015, Gov. Ugwuanyi while presenting his scorecard stated that his administration had made concerted efforts to put the institute and other state-owned tertiary institutions on the path of academic excellence and development, announcing his administration’s decision to make the IMT a degree-awarding institution.
According to him, “We have also made frantic efforts to provide and improve necessary infrastructure in our tertiary institutions just as we intervened to rescue the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) from the weight of salary arrears and resultant low staff morale.
“I am glad to announce that government has decided to make the IMT a degree-awarding institution and that the necessary machinery to enable us realize this objective, will soon be put in place.
“We have also taken decisive steps towards repositioning and revamping the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo through our push for the revalidation of old programmes and the accreditation of five new courses by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
Sequel to the completion of the process for the transition of the IMT to a degree-awarding institution, the State Executive Council, despite the severe economic crunch in the country, had recently approved N100 million for the institution to meet accreditation needs of its courses.
This notwithstanding, the institute still needs huge funds running into billions of naira for provision of critical infrastructure and other amenities befitting of its new status to meet the standard and basic requirements of the NBTE for such an all-important upgrade to be actualized.
Considering the obvious fact that the state government, like any other state, is being confronted with the adverse effects of the prevailing economic crisis in the country, which has diminished the federal allocations, from where subventions to parastatals and agencies are paid, to an all-time low, one appreciates the initiatives of the management and governing council of the state-owned tertiary institution to think outside the box to raise funds for infrastructural development and quality service delivery to improve its standard of education.
It is now imperative that government establishments look inwards and harness potentials other than the now lean federal allocation for the growth and development of their respective bodies.
In this regard, the decision by the Dr. Festus Uzor-led governing council of the IMT to partner the innovative Enugu State Housing Development Corporation (ESHDC) to raise huge funds for infrastructural development of the institution as well as assist other needy state’s agencies/parastatals, such as College of Education (Technical), Enugu and Adada Campus (ESUT), is not only a welcome development but also in the best interest of the state.
Apart from the transformational agenda in the IMT, Ugwuanyi’s administration has initiated other far reaching reforms in the educational sector at all levels.
For instance, the government through the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) recently commenced the recruitment exercise of 2000 primary school teachers to improve the standard of learning in the state. The list of first batch of 1300 successful teachers has been released and one is glad to note that they have moved to the classrooms, accordingly. The state government is currently renovating over 276 primary and secondary schools in the state worth of N3 billion with the federal government providing 50 percent of the sum. A committee headed by the Deputy Governor, H/E Hon. (Mrs) Cecilia Ezeilo was constituted to ensure the full and proper execution of the ENSUBEB projects.
The administration has put in place machinery to ensure that the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo scales through the accreditation of its new courses by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), to be formally listed as a polytechnic.
Perturbed by the ugly experience that post-primary school teachers in the state have not been promoted since 2013 as most of them approach retirement, Ugwuanyi’s administration was magnanimous enough to approve the release of the 2013 promotion arrears for the affected teachers with financial effect from April 2017. The approval added that the 2014 promotion arrears would be released with financial effect from September 2017 while that of 2015 will be from December 2017.
The state government in a bid to drive home its vision in the educational sector recently sent a draft bill for a law to amend the Education Law (Cap 37, Laws of Enugu State 2004) to the state parliament for legislation. The action was based on the fact that the said law has become obsolete and the affected institutions no longer apply it in their system, more so, when the education commission that used the law has been unbundled into three boards.
From the above narrative, it is pertinent to note that Ugwuanyi’s passion for education in the state is unprecedented and has indeed received accolades especially from stakeholders in the sector.
The chairman of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Alhaji Garuba Mohammed, had during the commission’s visit to the state for the accreditation of new courses of state’s polytechnic, Iwollo and inauguration of its reconstituted Governing Council commended the governor for his exemplary and unrelenting efforts towards repositioning the educational sector in the state.
According to him, “We came and saw some of the programmes being offered by the institution in the areas of management and engineering programmes and what we saw impressed us. This is the first time we are seeing an institution having so much focus on becoming a centre of excellence in agriculture. We commend you.”
Now that the Enugu State Government, the state parliament, IMT and other stakeholders have shown commitment towards the repositioning of the state’s educational institutions as centres for excellence and quality education, kudos must go to the present administration for its untiring efforts in keeping faith with the promise to “deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment”, for Enugu State is truly in the hands of God.
Amoke writes from Enugu State.