Feature: Auchi Polytechnic: Blazing the trail in research, development

Main gate Auchi Polytechnic
Main gate of Auchi Polytechnic

By Kevin Okunzuwa, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Auchi Polytechnic, located in Auchi, in Estako West Local Government Area of Edo, was founded in 1963, as a technical college.

The school was a gift of the British Government to the then Midwestern Region. It offered courses only up to the ordinary diploma level in limited areas of engineering and business.

By the seventies, there was a need for skilled manpower at a higher level and in many more disciplines.

Thus in 1973, the then Bendel State Government upgraded the technical college to a full-fledged polytechnic with the mandate to train skilled manpower up to the Higher National Diploma level, in a broad range of engineering, science, environmental studies, business studies, art and design.

In 1994, the Federal Government took over the polytechnic from the Edo State Government and the school became a federal institution.

Dr Sanusi Jimah, an alumnus of Auchi Polytechnic and a qualified town planner, is the institution’s 6th substantive rector, while the institution had three acting rectors at different times.

Jimah says the 56 years old Auchi Polytechnic remains one of the leading higher institutions in the country.

He said that the institution currently has seven faculties, namely: School of Applied Science & Technology (SAST), School of Art and Industrial Design (SAID), School of Business Studies (SBS), School of Engineering Technology (SENG), School of Environmental Studies (SENV), School of Information & Communication Technology (SICT) and School of General Studies.

According to him, the current student’s population stands at about 8, 000,that registered for Post Higher National Diploma, Higher National Diploma and National Diploma.

Jimah said he had always been conscious of the fact that the main objective of polytechnic education “is the promotion of technical and vocational education and training, technology transfer as well as skills development to enhance the socio-economic advancement of the country.

”I realise early in my academic life that polytechnic education plays a vital role in human resource development of a country through the creation of skilled manpower that enhances industrial productivity and improvement of quality of life.

“Hence, when I assumed office as rector, I hit the ground running because I was in a hurry to ensure these objectives were quickly realised.

”As with the motto of Auchi Polytechnic,  `Promoting Hands & Brain for Development of the Society and Country,’ we have lived up to the billing,” he said.

According to him, the institution has been positioned to lead other tertiary institutions as pathfinder in technology innovations for the growth of the country.

Jimah said the polytechnic was challenged by the recent National Universities Commission sweeping indictment on higher institutions’ seeming poor performance on forward-looking research and development beneficial to the country.

He said that the school was now poised to live up to its billing as a pioneer technical institution and citadel of knowledge driven by zeal and quest for technological advancements.

”I must tell you that through research, the polytechnic has developed five avant-garde innovations.

“We have developed a solar farm house refrigerator for storage of vegetables and other perishable farm produce.

”The  biogas facility is developed to generate power from waste; the fork lift furnace for improved welding capability; two feed mills for producing poultry feeds and the cocoa depodding machine for removing cocoa pods.

“Though some are still in their experimental stages, but I can confirm that the feed machine is fully operational now on campus and we are considering going commercial with it.

“We no longer buy feeds for our poultry farm in Area 3,  as we now produce our own feeds.  We only buy concentrate and produce the feeds for our use.

“For now, we supply 45 crates of eggs daily from the farms, while we are looking for commercial farmers to collaborate with on the cocoa depodding machines to increase our internal revenue generation.

“So far, these innovations are alien to higher institutions in Nigeria,” he said.

The rector also spoke on efforts to enhance infrastructure, staff development, teaching and learning environment in the polytechnic.

“However, management needed to expand the infrastructure to cope with the growing students’ population because of their preference for Auchi Polytechnic.

”We recently commissioned studios, lecture theatres and laboratories in this regard.

“In all of these achievements at providing infrastructure and equipment, we must commend TETfund for its dedication to improving the learning environment on our campuses.

“Its intervention projects have solved a lot of our problems in all facets of the polytechnic,” he said.

He added: “Because our students deserve the best in instructions, the polytechnic has continued to enhance its staff development policy.

”Through the TETfund interventions, the polytechnic in the past two years has sponsored staff to acquire higher degrees.

”I dare say that we have nearly 100 Ph.d holders in Auchi Polytechnic with 32 staff currently on masters degrees programmes, while others have gone on national and international workshops to be up-to-date with current international best practice in knowledge acquisition and impacting same to students.

”We are going to download these programmes down the ladder to enable staff to move with the trend and remain relevant in the education system.”

According to him, the management has brought new lease of life to the institution with zero tolerance to all forms of negative vices.

“The polytechnic has enhanced the standard of discipline in the last two years. I can report with some confidence that incidences of money for marks, amorous gratification for grades and other unethical practice have been largely curbed.

Corroborating the rector’s submission, Chief Olarewaju Oloyo, Chairman, Governing Council of Auchi Polytechnic, said Jimah-led style of administration, “promotes transparency, craftsmanship and had shown direction for staff and students.”

Oloyo assured of the council’s unflinching support, saying ” I want to assure all stakeholders of the polytechnic, that council will continue to address decisively all issues confronting the polytechnic to enable it sustain its reputation as one of the best in the country.

”Auchi Polytechnic is one of the oldest polytechnic in Nigeria.  Some of its equipment, facilities and instructional aids are as old as the institution.

“There is now the urgent need to replace these equipment and facilities with contemporary ones that meet the requirements of the digital age and the present work environment.

”I appeal to the government to consider the allocation of special grants to the polytechnic to enable it replace all instructional materials and equipment in its system,” he said.

According to him, council is also taking measures to address indiscipline among staff and has given clear directives to management to take prompt action on reported cases of unprofessional and unethical conduct by staff.

”This polytechnic has a large crop of serious minded, honest and dedicated members of staff. The unethical conduct of a handful of staff who present negative impression for the polytechnic in the public space can no longer be tolerated during my watch of this council,” he said.

Apparently keying into management’s development architecture, Auchi Polytechnic Alumni Association (APAA), recently donated a 200-seater engineering drawing studio to management of the institution.

APAA National President, Mr Victor Okhaimo, said the drawing studio, with 14 offices and other state-of-the-art facilities were part of the association’s commitment to providing more learning spaces in the engineering department of the institution, already making the institution proud.”

He said the association would continue to promote academic excellence and attract more infrastructure to the institution.

On the institution’s achievements in the field of innovation and development, Mr Sanni Onogun, Vice President, APAA, Abuja chapter, says ” it is only a demonstration that the institution is ready to help produce the needed manpower for Nigeria’s technology sector.

”What the institution is doing is shifting attention to that core mandate- which  is research and technology development: knowing that technology drives the world of today.

”These achievements also show that Auchi Polytechnic is leaving up to its motto of hands and brains for development, because the recent innovations by the institution were meant to develop not just the school  but the country.

“The positive effects will be felt first in the institution, then trickle down to the immediate community and from there to the larger society and beyond,’’ he said.

Onogun adds that: ” APAA will continue to partner management, especially in the area of ensuring that peace and harmony exists  between the unions, students and management.

“We realised that only a conducive learning environment can guarantee meaningful and profitable research and development like the ones being invented by Auchi Polytechnic just now.

”And because of the reform and high sense of discipline among staff and students and the different academic achievements being recorded in the institution, I can proudly say I am a product of Auchi Polytechnic.

”The national body of APAA is proud of the institution’s management under the leadership of Sanusi Jimah, for all the innovations and initiatives so far put in place under the short period of his rectorship.

”The rector has done well  beyond our expectations as his innovations and managerial skills are so meaningfully and positive, that all and sundry can testify.

”He has been able to continue the growth and development trajectory of his predecessors and is taking it to a dazzling height,” he said.

Encouraged by these accolades, Jimah says, ” we may be experiencing some difficulties, but we will not be tired to ensure we maintain the academic standards already set.

“Right now, in terms of academic rating, l am proud to say that Webometrics, an international rating agency of  tertiary institutions  worldwide, has rated Auchi Polytechnic the best in Nigeria.

”This is the outcome of ratings released in July last year. Until new ratings are done, we remain the best,” Jimah said. (NANFeatures)

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