By Livinus K. Okore
It is quite unfortunate that at a time when all well-meaning people are supposed to rally round the management of Abia State College of Education (Technical) Arochukwu (ASCETA) to salvage the school from the ruins of the past, some disgruntled elements used to the corrupt past, are bent on not only frustrating the efforts of the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration in that direction but sabotaging the move by government to breathe a new life to the college.
The truth is that ASCETA would long have collapsed if Ikpeazu in his wisdom did not send Dr Nto to the College for a holistic rescue mission. Apart from decayed infrastructure, stunted academic development and demoralized staff, the physical feature of the College was that of a jungle when Dr Nto took charge in March 2016.
But the new provost was not intimidated by those problems. First of all, he gave the College a face lift by clearing the bushes. He followed it up with fencing which was lacking. He restored public power supply which absence hitherto had affected students adversely. In fact the day he saw the squalor that were the students hostels, the provost wept. Through direct labour, he renovated four of those hostels which are now habitable.
As an academic of great repute, Dr Nto embarked upon the restructuring of the academic programmes in ASCETA. Disturbed by high level corruption in the examination and records department, the provost immediately preceded to reorganize the exams and records to eliminate scam. He also put in place a process that eliminated extortion of students by academic staff. To strengthen the academic programmes, he expanded the academic board from 12 members to 45 and decentralized the registrar’s office. Before now, one person was handling everything, but now we have departments handling senior/ academic staff, admissions, establishments, junior staff and exams and records with senior staff heading them.
It is on record that before the coming of Dr Nto, no graduate of ASCETA had been able to access his original certificate. But the new provost changed all that. Now graduates of ASCETA are collecting their certificates and the students are very happy.
It was the same story with accreditation of courses. For 14 years, not even a single course was accredited in ASCETA until Dr Nto took over. Following a powerful presentation he made to Government, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu graciously released funds for accreditation of courses. It was also instructive that matriculation of students did not hold for four years until Dr Nto stepped in to arrest the situation.
We are also happy that Dr Nto re-opened the Thalia Foundation which had been closed for a long time as a result of needless controversy. After the intervention by Dr Nto, the foundation is now offering training to students. The Provost also established ASCETA Demonstration Secondary College to offer quality education to children and wards of staff as well as the immediate community.
Worried by the porous security situation in the college which led to rampant thefts and rape, the provost strengthened the security aspartic to ensure that such a matter does not recur. The new security department is headed by a retired superior police officer who works in tandem with the DPO and heads of other security agencies in Arochukwu L.G.A to ensure all round security in the college. In fact, through that singular effort some cultists and thieves were arrested and handed over to the police for prosecution.
In the same vein, he set machinery in motion for the recovery of looted property of the college among which were the students empowerment bus and TETFUND giant generating set.
Before the arrival of Dr Nto, TETFUND had blacklisted ASCETA owing to the mismanagement of funds by previous administrations employing his administrative dexterity, Dr Nto has ensured that the relationship between ASCETA and TETFUND has been smothered. Through strict management of resources, Dr Nto has completed the strategic projects which have now qualified ASCETA to access future projects.
This is a major achievement which the students and staff are very, very grateful. It is also instructive that before now beneficiaries of TETFUND intervention for conference attendance were cronies of the sitting provost. But Dr Nto abolished that and enthroned a transparent process whereby only qualified and hardworking staff that are recommended by their departments benefit from the fund.
Indeed, owing to prudent management of resources by Dr Nto, wide consultations and regular meetings among staff and students, there is now transparency and trust in the administration of the college.
It was in the spirit of the new understanding that the college under Dr Nto embarked upon an aggressive sensitization of the populace to increase student’s population. Among the strategies employed was the affiliation of ASCETA to Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU). The college now runs a straight four-year degree course. Because of this initiative, the students’ population has increased by 50 percent from 400 when Dr Nto assumed office to the present number of 600. More than ever before, the college is now recognized globally because of the establishment of a website and the linking of graduates of ASCETA with entrepreneurship development scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
As a man who believes in the dignity of labour with adequate reward for hard-work, the Provost has been fighting for increased wages for staff. While it is painful that ASCETA workers are still being paid with the old salary structure, Dr Nto has since taken up the matter with the government. In fact, Governor Ikpeazu graciously approved that a Committee be set up to review the salary structure. The Committee has since submitted its report and the Provost has presented the matter to the Governing Council for approval.
In terms of promotion, the Provost made the Council to approve that all lecturers and Senior Staff who were on fixed salaries of N30, 000 monthly be appropriately placed. And for the first time, three Lecturers have been promoted to the rank of Readers which is the peak in their career. This is in addition to regular promotion of both junior and senior staff who are deserving of such. The principle guiding the Provost’s actions is to ensure that workers are adequately motivated for enhanced productivity. Anybody can fault him on any other thing but certainly not on workers welfare.
Okore, Registrar of ASCETA, writes from Arochukwu.