Magnus Eze, Enugu
Sir Obi Kama is passionate about his job as Executive Chairman of the Enugu State Science, Technical and Vocational Schools Management Board (STVSMB). He spoke on the silent strides the state has made in the first four years of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration; noting that the ‘Gburugburu car’ designed by students of Government Technical College, Enugu and awards won by the state clearly showed its prowess in science, technology and innovation.
What’s the place of science, technology and innovation in Enugu state?
You know that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is the way to go in the 21st century all over the world. Now, the Government of Enugu state in line with the current vision of the state governor, His Excellency Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is keeping to his vision through our board to make sure that Enugu state does not lag behind. Also, in line with the current trend, the Governor has done this by encouraging us to make sure that all our technical and vocational schools are fully functional; the board is saddled with the responsibility of all the science, vocational and technical schools. So, the governor’s done that by equipping our schools with computers; he’s done that by making sure that our children are computer literate and compliant in order to meet up with the challenges of 21st century. We’ve also built modern technical workshops in almost three quarter of our schools; our science schools have also been equipped with the latest science kits like physics, chemistry, biology labs. The result is that if you go to our schools now, the children can confidently use those kits like what’s obtainable in other part of the world. Our technical schools have workshops and also all the enabling tools and equipment provided for them. In fact, Enugu state has been judged as the best, when the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) exam was taken last year, Enugu state came first. The state was adjudged as the school that best implemented NABTEB policies.
The truth is that the governor’s rare dexterity has turned around our tale at the STVSMB for the better. The total reconstruction of the STVSMB headquarters complex, provision of equipment for most of the technical/vocational colleges and Special Science Schools across the senatorial zones of the State are there for all to see. He ensured prompt re-roofing of school buildings affected by rainstorm, recruitment of tutorial and non-tutorial staff, and construction/renovation of workshop building for many of the technical/vocational colleges as well as the prompt payment of workers’ salaries.
Aside what the government has done; have there been any milestones by the schools and students?
Yes, in the JETS (Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists); by the way JETS is a competition organized by the science technical schools all over Nigeria; one of our schools- GTC Enugu came first in exhibition of metal and woodwork. They also came first in auto mechanics department; the trophies are there for anybody to see. As a matter of fact, they were on display on 27th of May at the Children’s Day celebrations. We’re showcased what GTC won in that JETS competition at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium; in fact, we have a lot to show for it.
You may have heard that a car was fabricated by the GTC Enugu students and named after his Excellency the governor. They called it ‘Gburugburu car’; that car was presented to Enugu State Executive Council under the leadership of our governor and approval was given for students of that department to go for further training at the Innoson vehicle manufacturing plant and other similar higher institutions. The students, about 30 of them are undergoing that training now; the idea is to modify those cars into modern cars. Those students are geniuses; you need to see this car, it was made from local contents; all the components were fabricated right here in Enugu, so, you can imagine what will become of them when they’re exposed to modern technologies. The governor has been so wonderful in encouraging us to achieve what we’ve achieved so far. Our investment in science, technology and innovation is yielding dividends. It’s there for anybody to see; I can tell you within the next three years, the kind of workforce that’ll come out of our schools, some students are going to be self-employed, unemployment is going to reduce drastically from the investment the state has made in the area of science and technology.
Recall that last year; a 19-year old lad from GTC, Enugu, Chijioke Nnadi’s painting titled: “The future I see is brighter for our nation,” won the 2018 NNPC/Chevron National Arts Competition. That resounding achievement has not only projected the image of the school, but placed Enugu in an enviable spot in the comity of states in Nigeria when it comes to art and creativity. The theme of the 2018 edition of the competition was “Nigeria of my dream”, but Nnadi whose entry beat those of 35 other contestants from the rest states of the federation tagged his work “The future I see is brighter for our nation”.
Also, go to GTC Oji River and see the beautiful shoes made by our students there; I bet that they can compete favourably with the best of shoes made in Aba, Abia state.
What happened to the equipment trust fund you talked about last year?
We’re on it. I told you that it’s a kind of trust where students that excelled in different departments will be encouraged to stand on their own; where soft loans would be given to students that excelled in different departments. We started last year with about 17 students as beneficiaries of that trust fund and they’re on their own doing different trades; some in auto mechanics, carpentry and joinery, while some are doing metal work and so on. We intend to get more students to benefit by this year.
The administration of Governor Ugwuanyi is poised to produce students whom upon leaving school would be self-employed and also employers of labour, having been sufficiently equipped with the necessary skills to drive technology, innovations and inventions for wealth creation and employment generation.
The equipment trust fund is basically to assist skilled people in the state. With this, we would be able to provide students with kits; the best three graduating students each year, will be automatically given starter packs so that they will be able to set up trades of their choice; depending on their areas of specialisation. That will help them to stand on their feet.