Sunday, 28 August 2016

INTERVIEW: The Degree Of Mismanagement At Abiapoly is Unacceptable -Prof Ikechi Mgbeoji

Prof Mgbeoji

In an exclusive interview granted to FactNews, the Abia state
commissioner for education, Prof. Ikechi Mgboji disclosed that
the reduction in the tuition fee of Abians studying in the state’s
university is an express show of Government’s sensitivity to
their plight. He said the government is willing to alleviate the
burden of Abians. He also spoke on the salary payment situation
at Abia State polytechnic Aba.

Hon Commissioner, What informed the
recent announcement by Government on the N10,000
reduction in tuition Fees at Abia State university?

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.

 Recently Abia State Came tops in the 2016 WAEC
results , are there rewards for hardwork and excellence?

 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.

What informed the decision of the Government to
donate motorcycles to Education Inspectors in the state?

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 be able 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.

Please shed more light on the movement of
the Faculty of Law and Humanities to Umuahia and faculty of engineering to Aba.

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.

Are there existing buildings and structures  to house
these moved Faculties?

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.

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 population have backlog of salaries, why are we not sacking those that ought to be sacked to ensure free flow of Academic Activities?

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's affairs. 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. It is 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 to lose 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.

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?

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.

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?

 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.

The question relates to the fees paid by the
Students, does it actually go to the State Purse?

No, no, 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
no distant future, the School will totally stand on it's own and
possibly generate funds for the state. It is one step at a time.
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.

With Reduction in Tuition Fees now, are you confident
it won't affect how the State Government executes it's capital projects?

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.

We are looking at the Current testing Method 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?

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.

 Finally Sir. The ongoing Verification for E4E
Programme. A lot of people are excited but many still do
notunderstand what the programme hopes to achieve. Can you briefly explain the aim of the programme?

Just to give a Brief information about the programme.
When the Government came on board, it realised that
huge number 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.

Thank you Sir for Your Time.

~ Facts News Online

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