Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

An alleged threat by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education, Aminu Suleiman, to close down the Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe, Bayelsa State, has raised a furore in the state House of Assembly.

Suleiman, who represents Fagge Federal Constituency, Kano State, was reported to have threatened to close down the institution during his committee’s oversight visit, alleging that the school was occupied by rats and lizards and not students and staff.

But the House of Assembly, in a motion entitled, ‘The Urgent Need to Reverse the Threat to close down the Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe’, raised by Mr. Daniel Igali, a member representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 3, said the threat was curious, unthinkable and condemnable.

Igali said the polytechnic, located in his LGA was established to train manpower for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, noting that since its establishment some years ago, a lot of students had graduated from the institution.

The lawmaker stated, “With a student population of about 2,000 students, the polytechnic currently runs 15 functional departments offering courses at the Higher National Diploma, Ordinary National Diploma and Pre-National Diploma levels.

“It is expected that at the end of the ongoing 2017/2018 admission process, a total of above 1,500 students will be admitted. The institution has also created employment opportunities for our people at both the academic and non-academic staff positions.

“The continued existence of the institution is now threatened. The threat is coming from Aminu Suleiman, member representing Fagge Federal Constituency, Kano State and Chairman House of Representatives  Committee on Tertiary Education who has vowed that no money will be appropriated  to the institution in the 2018 budget of the Federal Government.

“He made the threat based on the purported oversight visit his committee allegedly made to the institution on November 26, 2016 where he described the institution as one occupied by rats and lizards and not students and staff.

“His observation in a national daily does not reflect the true position of things on ground. The statement is designed to set the stage for the institution to be totally closed down.”

Igali said it was unfortunate that Dr. Mas’udu Kazaure, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education was acting in tandem with Suleiman in his bid to close down the institution.

He said the House was aware that SILGA where the institution is located, is one of the highest oil producing areas in Nigeria, insisting that the proceeds of oil and gas were the main sources of funding for all government-owned institutions of learning and other agencies including the NBTE.

He noted that the major problem facing the federal polytechnic was lack of proper funding and not the absence  of students and staff.

He said that in 2017 for instance, while the total budget for the institution was about N1bn only,  that of the Federal Polytechnic Kaduna was over N7bn, Federal Polytechnic Kaura-Namoda about N3bn, Federal Polytechnic Gwandu was about N3bn etc.

He further noted  that the Nigeria  Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State had suffered the same fate in recent years.

Igali said that it was therefore curious to find out that instead of using his position to advocate more funds to be appropriated to the institution, Suleiman was bent on making sure that the institution was closed down.

The lawmaker, therefore, condemned the statement credited to Suleiman and Dr. Mas’udu Kazaure about the institution.

He called on the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Assembly to allocate more funds to the polytechnic in the 2018 fiscal year and beyond.

After the motion by Igali, members of the Assembly including Tonye Isenah (Chief Whip), Chief Mitema Obordor (Deputy Leader) and Mrs Koku Obiyai, resolved that the threat was in bad faith and condemned it vehemently.

The lawmakers called on the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Assembly to allocate more funds to the Federal Polytechnic  Ekowe in the 2018 fiscal year and beyond.

 It urged the members of the National Assembly from Bayelsa State to take up the matter at the National Assembly.

The House, therefore, set up a 12 member ad-hoc committee to visit the institution.

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Poly closure threat: Bayelsa lawmakers condemn Rep, demand more funding
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