Awka – Staff of the Anambra State Polytechnic Mgbakwu on Tuesday staged a protest to the State Government House in Awka, over what they described as the total abandonment of the institution by the state government, resulting in so much backwardness.
According to them, since the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano converted the then College of Agriculture, Mgbakwu in Awka North LGA to a state polytechnic, the institution had gone from bad to worse.
Investigations by TNC correspondent, who visited the institution, revealed that since 2017 when the institution became a polytechnic, no meaningful infrastructural upgrade has been done in the institution, while the number of students has drastically reduced.
It was also gathered that a greater percentage of workers in the institution were staff of the various state Ministries, whose appointments were yet to be regularized.
Last Friday, the convocation ceremony scheduled for new graduates of the school could not hold, as the old ones locked the entrance to the premises, as a mark of protest over their disappointment at the way they have been treated.
One of the protesting students, Ikem Onwuegbu said they graduated since 2015 but till now, they were yet to be issued their Certificates.
He noted that those who got theirs, could not do anything with them, as they were told that the certificates are invalid.
“It is worrisome that an institution like this owned by the state government would be issuing invalid certificates to graduates.
“I graduated from the Engineering Technology Department since 2015 and during the convocation, our names were not among those to be issued with Certificates.
“When we asked, they told us that it was an error from the typist.
“We asked to be shown the original list forwarded to the typist and they have been playing around, that was why we decided that no convocation will hold until they do the right thing.
“It is unfortunate that after wasting years of hardwork here, students will be told one story or the other,” he lamented.
Speaking on behalf of the concerned staff, Ilouno Emeka, a lecturer in the Agric Technology department of the Polytechnic accused the management of the institution of being responsible for the backwardness, saying they are only concerned about their benefits and not those of the staff.
“Among the problems facing the Polytechnic include poor staff welfare, non-regularization of staff picked from Ministries, poor infrastructure at the institution, invalid certificates as reported by our students among others.
“We also have the issue of the rector who has been here for 14 years.
“We appreciate all that she has done in getting the institution to where it is today but things are not just working.
“Why is it difficult for the Governing Council to secure a new lease of life for the institution?
“We have borne these problems for so long and now we the concerned workers in the institution have decided to voice it out so that help can come,” he said.
The protesting staff who had earlier taken their agitation to the state House of Assembly, later moved to the State Government House, Awka where three of their representatives were invited to a secret meeting with the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu.
Meanwhile, when TNC correspondent spoke with the Rector of the Polytechnic, Dr Nneka Mefor, she corroborated the protesters’ claims of poor staff welfare and poor teaching conditions, noting that she had made several representations with the state government on the matter all to no avail.
She maintained that despite having been confirmed substantive Rector since 2018, her emoluments and salaries were yet to be paid.
“The way the state government has abandoned the institution is the reason why all these are happening.
“I have written memo upon memos. I have gone to the State House of Assembly. I have met with principal officers of the state government but nothing has happened.
“It is a pity that the staff feel that we haven’t done enough but the truth is that I have tried my best because even I am involved in the whole issue.
“How can someone be confirmed as substantive rector of a polytechnic since 2018 and not receive the consequential emoluments,” she worried.
The rector however denied allegations that the Polytechnic issues invalid certificates, noting that the challenge with old graduates who were yet to receive their results was from the state government.
“Since 2015, we have been writing to the State Government for approval to conduct the convocation ceremony and they have not approved it. This is because the statement of result expires after 5 years without convocation.
“Even the last convocation we planned, we wanted it to be an in-house thing so that the students can get their certificates but at the final minutes, they called us to put it off.
“These are part of the reasons for the problems in the school,” she said.
On the issue of her having overstayed as Rector of the institution, Dr Mefor explained that she was confirmed substantive rector of the Polytechnic in 2018 and handed a 4 year tenure which expires March next year.
Dr Mefor who noted that the concerned workers have the right to express themselves, however did not support the idea of protesting, saying it has not yielded any meaningful results.