The Akwa-Ibom State residents has kick at the governor, Godswill Akpabio, to relocate the newly approved federal polytechnic for the state to his local government.

Mr. Akpabio announced on Friday in Uyo the receipt of a letter from the supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, conveying President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval of the institution for the

Godswill Akpabio
Akwa Ibom Governor, Godswill Akpabio

While commending the Federal Government for approving the decision to site the school in Akwa Ibom, the governor said it would be located in Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of the State, where he comes from.

Apart from the approval, Mr. Akpabio said the Federal Government has also approved a take-off grant of N1 billion from the Education Trust Fund, ETF, for the institution, to facilitate the commencement of
classes in September this year as scheduled.

“On behalf of myself and the good people of Akwa Ibom State, we appreciate President Jonathan for this kind gesture in finding the state worthy of establishing a federal higher institution in the state. We are very glad about it,” the governor said. “Our state is a state that is on the right track in the educational sector. Already, we have introduced the free and compulsory education for the benefit
of all the children in the state. Siting a Federal Polytechnic in the state is a welcome development.”

To demonstrate its support to the Federal Government’s gesture, he said the state government had decided to rehabilitate the existing facility at the Independence High School, Ukana, as a temporary site for the school, to ensure that normal academic activities began by September.

But, the governor’s announcement did not go down well with a cross section of the political class in the state, particularly those who have been in the forefront of the lobby to secure the Federal
Government’s approval of the institution for the state.

The Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East in the National Assembly, Ita Enang, who reportedly was pivotal to the lobby, faulted the governor’s decision to single-handedly force the relocation of the
institution from its original approved location.

According to Mr. Enang, throughout the period the idea of the institution was conceived, through all the inspection visits by the relevant Federal Government teams, the Independence High School, Ukana, never featured as a possible site for the new institution.

He said when the officials of the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, visited Akwa Ibom to assess the state of facilities at the site selected for the school; it was the former Presbyterian Teacher Training College, Ididep, in Itu Local Government Area that they visited.

Based on the quality of facilities they found at Ididep, which has since been converted to Senior Science College in the state, Mr. Enang, said the NBTE team considered the school the ideal site for the proposed federal polytechnic in the state.

He said he was shocked to have learnt through the governor’s announcement that the Presbyterian Senior Science College, formerly Ididep Teacher Training College, TTC, which was originally selected as site for new institution, was unilaterally changed to Ukana, which was neither inspected nor approved by the federal government’s inspection team.

The Senator, who was a 1979 graduate of the former TTC, and had invested his personal resources over the years in the provision of equipment and school facilities to bring it up to a modern standard, however, refused to comment further on what may have informed the decision to set aside the initial selected site.

Mr. Akpabio is said to have told his close associates that he used his powers as the governor of the state to influence the unilateral relocation of the institution to his local government as part of his “retirement benefits” when he leaves office in 2015. grapevine gathered that the governor was also contemplating renaming the school after his late father, who was a former Minister in the defunct Eastern Nigeria.

Several other residents of the state also condemned the governor’s action.

Etoro-Obong Inyang, an indigene of the state, said the decision to relocate the school from Itu Local Government Area has inflicted a personal pain in the heart of the citizens of the area, who had mobilised and deployed their personal and community resources into the development of the school as the nucleus of a future higher institution.

Mr. Inyang said the people were aware that the preliminary framework for the take-off of the Federal Polytechnic in Akwa Ibom State followed a presidential request granted Mr. Enang, who is their representative in the National Assembly.

He said as a follow up to the presidential approval, a team of officials was dispatched from both the Federal Ministry of Education and the NBTE on a visit to the state for inspection of the possible site for the school.

He said the team was received by the then Secretary to the State Government, Umanah Umanah, who represented the governor.

Mr. Umanah was said to have led the inspection team to three educational institutions in the state: Union Secondary School, Ibiaku; Presbyterian Senior Science College, Ididep, both in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area; and Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.

Criticising the decision to relocate the new institution to Ukana, Ibanga Ukoh, another resident of the state, said it smacked of selfish politics for the governor to direct all key educational institutions to his area; particularly as Ukana is a short distance from the location of the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic at Ikot Osurua.

“If the institution was taken to the campus of the State Polytechnic at Ikot Osurua, which was one of the three sites originally identified and inspected by the Federal Ministry of Education officials, nobody would have raised an eyebrow. But, taking it completely outside the three sites amounts to playing bad politics with the issue of even distribution of government presence among all sections of the state,” he pointed out.

The State Commissioner for Information, Aniekan Umanah, did not respond to calls to his phone when grapevine called on Monday. He did not also respond to the text message sent to him.

Meanwhile, the Rector of the new polytechnic and other principal officers have already been named. The Rector is Balama Mbomanu, while the Registrar is Chrysantus Asuka; the Bursar is Sunday Okpo, and Librarian, Emem Udofia.

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