FedPoly Oko ICT Center Now Overgrown By Bushes

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Lawrence Nwimo

Nawfija ICT Center of the Federal polytechnic Oko is now a laughing stock owing to its state of utterly neglect. The center is a shame to be associated with the polytechnic.

This is coming seven years after the federal polytechnic took over the management of the Information and Communication/ Skills Acquisition Center at Nawfijah, Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra state having been constructed by Hon. Ben Nwankwo, then lawmaker representing Orumba North and South Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives.

Nwankwo, an alumnus of the institution handed over the keys to the center to the Rector of the Polytechnic, Prof Godwin Onu, who at that time described the centre as a landmark.

The Nation newspaper of August 22 , 2013   had reported that Nwankwo during the hand-over clearly emphasized the importance of the establishment which was to fight poverty, reduce crime and improve skills of school leavers in his constituency. He said that a generator that can power the center and the expansion of the site were priority projects of his then 2014 budget proposals.

The report also said that Nwankwo promised the center a perimeter fence, a generator to power the center as well as drill a borehole, charging the management of the polytechnic to be a legacy for generations for reduction of poverty and enhanced skill acquisition.

Prof Onu while receiving the keys declared readiness to make the place a department on software incubation among others and award certificates to participants.

“Our institution welcomes the donation of this ICT centre by a former student of our great polytechnic. We are assuring him that this legacy would be put to effective use and we would not disappoint on the expectations from us by the Founding father.

below is a video coverage of the ICT Center at Nawfijah

“It is a skill acquisition training centre not only for children or school leavers but for adults since knowledge is a continuum and there is always need to specialise in areas. It is an entrepreneurial centre where authentic certificates would be awarded at the end of the programme.

“Those who are not computer literate don’t know what they are missing. Nwankwo is a blessing to this institution and a born leader. I thank him for thinking home. The future lies in skills and insecurity could be fought with skills and it would die naturally because when everybody is busy with skills, nobody thinks evil,” he said.

Investigations captured the situation of the center as at today in photos as the center has been taken over by grasses. The picture of the site shows that it has been long the site was abandoned and it takes beyond eye level to notice that there are existing structures in the area having been overgrown by bushes.

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The major entrance to the ICT center was nearly death trap as one could not possibly know which animal lay under the bush waiting to prey on careless visitors. Cracking noises of Rodents and the likes was heard here and there ceaselessly prompting further enquiries from stakeholders whose responses raised eyebrows.

Nawfija  ICT/ Skills acquisition Center 

According to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, ” The center was established in such a way that it will create opportunities where people are trained on ICT but the center was abandoned shortly after Ben Nwankwo handed over the center to Federal Polytechnic Oko.”

The source further hinted that Ben Nwankwo handed the center to the Management of Okopoly so that it can be handled expertly but periods after the official handover, the center was gradually abandoned before being left to be consumed by bush.

Another villager and a retired civil servant who gave his name as Mr. Okechukwu pointed accusing finger to Management of Federal Poly Oko for puting the center in the situation it is today. ” I blame  those people who those projects were given to take care of. The reason why Ben Nwankwo handed over the project to Okopoly was for efficient management and to benefit both parties (Okopoly and the community) but those ambitions are almost gone.

” At the initial stage, we were happy that students were coming to our community to learn but at a point it faded off. So I blame management of Okopoly  for the failure of the center.

” Nawfija Community is never to be held responsible for the failure of the project because it has done its duty which was to give out land for the project. All those areas and projects are in the hands of government.

“Ben Nwankwo has no blame because he has completed the project and handed it over to the Polytechnic management led by its former Rector, Prof. Godwin Onu. The institution should be asked questions why such good project was abandoned.

” What the community does was to annually clear the bushes  that have eaten up the structures so that fire outbreaks associated with dry seasons will not affect it because if fire destroys it, it is a very big loss.”

The little hopes of Mrs Justina Anumba, an indigene of the community was dashed after she was promised a job in the center having undergone trainings in various areas. Her words ” They trained both the typists and others that will work there but later Okopoly came and evacuated all the things that were installed in the center.

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“They said that a department will come down to occupy the place but it did not last. In fact, I was among the set of people promised to get job there as staff but it never worked. Immediately after the handover, of the project to Okopoly, the site was abandoned.”

Meanwhile, words from the President General, Nawfija Progressive Union, Engineer Francis Onyebuchi clearly showed that the center has been abandoned due to unknown circumstances. He told our reporter that nothing of human activity has been witnessed there since he became the community leader blaming the failure of the project on the lack of fund from the axis of the government. 

His words, ” Since I came on as the PG of Nawfijah three years ago, nobodoy has shown face on that project. I think it is caused by lack of fund from the axis of government. Since my three years as the PG of the community, I have not seen anybody work there. The sponsorship hanged since I became the president General.

It Was Not Abandoned – Former PG, Kingsley Onyeagba

The immediate past President General of the Community,  Kingsley Onyeagba gave a totally different account of the situation claiming that the center was not abandoned but due to delays in approvals and and lack of concern of the previous rector of Federal Polytechnic Oko who served in acting capacity.

His words, ” The center was working because of the old rector that was there (Prof Onu). Prof Onu was trying to fix the center and see that it was working. We signed Memorandum of Understanding, we have done everything and have even given them some areas in a nearby secondary school where they can take up their classrooms. It was going on before Prof Onu’s tenure elapsed. 

“They were at the state of employing local non- skilled laborers who will see to the sweeping and maintenance of that place but when they brought in somebody as an interim rector, the interim rector did not look at that side. They now have a substantive rector who have dedicated interest to come back to that place.

” the present rector has given us appointment to come and see the place through our traditional ruler but the appointment failed due to some circumstances. We have agreed to reschedule. We are waiting for a new appointment from the rector. Once the rector visits, they will resume again.

When Contacted, Professor Onu who was the former Polytechnic Rector and in whose administration the center was handed over felt dissapointed with the present state of the center and said that it was the duty of the polytechnic to maintain the legacy he left behind as the rector of the institution. He added that it is the duty of the polytechnic to oversee the sponsorship of the skills acquisition center and ensure that its purpose was attained. 

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” the issue is that we wanted to use the place as a software development center and it was donated by Hon. Ben Nwankwo. We had MoU with Nawfija community too on the project and they even promised to give us more facilities. Before I left office, the place was functioning and I appointed a director, Mr. Mbanusi to be in charge before I left office so they can continue with the development. It was the duty of the polytechnic to oversee its sponsorship being an extension site of the institution. 

Prof Onu further remarked that the school management should liaise with the traditional ruler of the community and reinvent the project stressing that there was never a time the project was taken away from the institution.

Several efforts made to hear from the new Rector, Dr Francisca Nwafulugo was not successful as she did not pick her calls but former PRO and acting Registrar of the Institution, Mr. Onuchukwu Obini who called later told our reporter that the management has started making plans to revamp the center to achieve the primary goal of its establishment. He also blamed the long period of covid-19 lockdown as the reason why activities have not begun.

He said that the previous rector set up a committee to augment the facilities in the center but was delayed by approvals until the recent administration came on board. He even said that the Nawfija traditional ruler had written a letter reminding the management about the existence of the center and also led a delegation that requested the management to revive the ICT center.

Stressing the Polytechnic’s resolve and commitment to  reinvigorate the ICT center, Mr. Obini said, ” The present rector strongly promised to do anything humanly possible to revive the center to achieve the desired goal of the institution more especially when we are interested in taking ICT as serious as the whole world has done. It was a commitment we must do. It is something we must restart in such a manner that we won’t have a break once we commence. Currently, we are putting every machinery to restart the center.”

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