By: Iziaq Adekunle SALAKO
The current policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria is to the effect that Polytechnics will no longer award HND degrees but Bachelor of Technology in affiliation with a proximate university. It is also well established that polytechnic education was not originally intended to be at tertiary level but to provide technologists and other middle level manpower. Therefore, Polytechnics are going out of fashion and the establishment of new Polytechnic in this age and time can only qualify as not forward looking and progressive enough.
Against this background and coupled with the severe crisis following the attempt to legislate out of existence the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta and establish a new one in Ipokia called Ogun State Polytechnic (OGUNPOLY), the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun MFR must be commended for giving the people of Ogun State the opportunity to rethink this policy of KILLING a thriving MAPOLY, establish a new one, OGUNPOLY that is out of tune with new thinking in tertiary education sector and another, Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology (MAUSTECH) that is obviously on its way to becoming a stunted child.
I will therefore like to salute the courageous and deft move of Mr. Governor to save MAPOLY and also broaden the consultation process by appointing a review committee to assist government in taking a second look at the OGUNPOLY , Ipokia and MAUSTECH, Abeokuta policy. The hurried conversion of MAPOLY to MAUSTECH has not only negatively impacted on the staff of the institution with backlog of salaries, it has shrunken opportunity for higher education by not less than 40,000 places and also strangulated the economy of the immediate environment of MAPOLY. Only an insensitive Governor will watch such a scenario without intervening.
In this age and time, if Ogun State is going to establish a new tertiary institution, it stand to reason that such should be of university status. With the critical role science and technology is playing in economic advancement and quality living it is equally reasonable that such a University should focus on science and technology hence the need for a University of Science and Technology in Ogun State.
In Ogun State today there are in all 3 government owned Universities with a 4th one (The University of Medical Sciences, a federal government initiative) being planned for Ajebo, near Abeokuta. These 3 universities are distributed between Ogun East and Central in the ratio of 2:1. In addition there are 8 polytechnic level institutions in Ijebu-Igbo, Ilese, Saapade, Ojere, Itori, Igbesa and Ilaro. The 2 government owned colleges of education in Ogun State are located in Omu and Osiele.
From the foregoing, government owned higher institutions are concentrated in Ogun East and Ogun Central compared to Ogun West in the ratio of 6:4:2 respectively. Since the last government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun has taken the decision to address this imbalance and invested the resources of Ogun State in providing facilities at Ipokia and now that a second look at the polytechnic option is clearly showing that establishing a new polytechnic is not the best for Ogun State at this time and age, it is only reasonable to argue that the site in Ipokia is best suited for a new university, the Ogun State University of Science and Technology.
Apart from the investment of government that has gone into making the site in Ipokia suitable for a higher institution of learning, Ipokia is particularly suitable for this new university because of the many advantages it holds that can make the university less burdensome on government and enhance sustainability.
Ipokia provides a serene and distraction free environment suitable for teaching, learning and research. Its international border location with Republic of Benin and domestic border with Lagos State is a good leverage to attract international students and also from the commercial capital of Nigeria. In addition, the upcoming oil industry and the vast ocean endowment in Tongeji Island of Ipokia local government are areas that can be exploited by a university in Ipokia for tailored made programmes that will ultimately impact positively on Ogun State and Nigeria.
Going forward therefore, in consonance with present realities in Nigeria and the trend globally, I think the way to go is the conversion of the yet to properly take off Ogun State Polytechnic in Ipokia to a University of Science and Technology. MAPOLY should be allowed to live and gradually transform into a degree awarding institution or exist side by side with another university in line with the new direction of higher education in Nigeria.
God help our dear Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun MFR, as he leads on this journey to build our future in Ogun State together.
Iziaq Adekunle SALAKO