By Ugochukwu Iwuji
The advent of Engr Dr Michael Arimanwa, three years ago as 8th substantive Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, has become a basic study in legendary accomplishments. Coming with specific goals and prodigious targets, the Rector has not left anyone in doubt of his noble mission.
Having traversed the crucible of leadership in various units and schools of the polytechnic, Dr Arimanwa came like an administrator who had already tested and mastered the ground. In the preceding administration, it will be recalled that the gentleman scholar cum cleric played a significant role in the modest development of the polytechnic at the time.
Thus, he came to the job with a superior knowledge-base to radically transform the infrastructural trajectory of the institution.
The single-minded attention paid to infrastructural development in the polytechnic may not have come as a huge surprise. The essential Arimanwa had always been known as having a knack for purposeful development.
Also, in his developmental strategy manifest in the momentous 14 goals and 72 targets, the cerebral administrator expressed a historic commitment to an enduring infrastructural revolution in the polytechnic. When he reeled out this manual on his day of inauguration, the hall had erupted in massive ovations because the polytechnic community believed in the sincerity of his vision.
Here was a man who had an impressive record of excellence in all the positions he held prior to his rectorship. Here was a man who had saved tens of millions for the polytechnic in the past. Here was a man who had repeatedly consulted for the Physical Planning Unit of the polytechnic due to his rare intellectual capacity.
Here was a man who had meticulously supervised the internal roads in the polytechnic with an admirable precision. Thus, he came as the mythical square peg in a square hole. Three years down the line, it has been a harvest of infrastructure at the Federal Polytechnic Nekede.
It bears saying that the pace of infrastructural revolution in the polytechnic is methodological. Every aspect of the institution has been carried along. This has thus constituted a defining moment and a break from the past when development was measured according to the number of blocks erected.
For, while not neglecting block infrastructure, Dr Arimanwa has also made humanity in the polytechnic the centerpiece of development. I think this is the core of any type of infrastructural development.
The story of infrastructural development in Federal Polytechnic Nekede under Engr Dr Michael Arimanwa cannot be told without due reference to the access roads leading to the institution. Before the legendary scholar and administrator happened on the scene, there were no good motorways to the polytechnic. This had led to an astronomical increase in transportation fares which further heightened the cost of living for both staff and students.
The situation no doubt demeaned the status of the polytechnic. But upon inauguration as Rector some three years ago, Dr Arimanwa had actuated one of his goals predicated on building sustainable synergy with relevant government agencies and organizations for development.
Accordingly, he built powerful rapport and synergy with the Imo State government which today has graciously constructed and commissioned the first phase of the Naze/Poly/Ihiagwa road, thus, breaking the yoke of inaccessibility. Similarly, Dr Arimanwa bonded with the Federal Government which built the access road linking the polytechnic from Maternity Junction.
Recently, too, the Ecological Office of the Presidency came to commission another major access road within the polytechnic. Suffice it to state that the Arimanwa era has opened up the polytechnic for business with the wider world.
There is virtually no school that has not adequately felt the Arimanwa Midas touch in the area of infrastructure. In the School of Business and Management Technology, the administration has completed and equipped a magnificent edifice (Complex D) for them. This is to enable students learn under very conducive atmosphere befitting of 21st century students. Similarly, the Arimanwa administration has completed and equipped an ultra modern office block for the School of Environmental Design and Technology. This has further given the staff of the school the much needed physical and psychological ambiance to work.
The administration has also paid an impressive attention to infrastructure in Agriculture and Agricultural Technology. This may not be unconnected to the global paradigm shift to agriculture and agro-business in the face of declining economic options. For instance, the administration has constructed a brand new School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology complex.
This high-impact edifice currently houses the departments of Agricultural Technology and Fisheries Technology. The administration has already signed a memorandum of understanding with a Togolese commercial agriculture firm, Lofty Farms, to establish a modern fishery in the polytechnic which would give staff and students practical expertise in commercially producing the tilapia fish which is the most-sought-after specie in the market. When this project is realized, the Federal Polytechnic Nekede would be a major player in fish production and fishery technology.
Having graduated from the School of Engineering of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede and becoming at one time its Dean, Engr Dr Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa undoubtedly knows where gaps exist in infrastructural development. Today, the administration has built a new School of Engineering Technology office block to better the physical working condition of the staff. He has also constructed and equipped the School of Engineering Technology classroom complex. This is with the view of bequeathing the students modern facilities in which to learn appositely. The new structure would also take care of possible upsurge in student enrollment.
It is heartwarming that the Arimanwa administration has taken the issue of equipping laboratories across the institution very seriously. Notably, the equipment which come in different ranges and shapes are quite expensive but necessary. Thus, the era of poorly equipped laboratories is well over in the polytechnic. It bears saying that some of these equipment are costlier than the structures housing them; and they are remarkably of high quality. From inception, Engr Dr Michael Arimanwa has always harped on making the Federal Polytechnic Nekede a model 21st century institution of higher learning that can compete with its peers anywhere in the world. Thus, the equipping of the laboratories is geared towards de-emphasizing theoretical knowledge in favour of the practical aspect which is at the core of science and technology.
It is indeed commendable that the Arimanwa administration in Federal Polytechnic Nekede has not toed the cheap path of erecting beautiful structures without adequately equipping them. The implication of this rare gesture is that the Rector is at the vanguard of a most sincere and purposeful leadership. The retooling of the Engineering workshops has been taken very seriously by the administration. Similarly, the campus radio station of the Department of Mass Communication has been revamped and the students now do their practical in the studio seamlessly. The result is that mass communicators from the polytechnic are adequately equipped for the challenge in the wider world.
The School of General Studies has also felt the full impact of the Arimanwa infrastructural revolution. This school was formally named Humanities and Social Sciences; but in line with the strategic reforms by the Rector, the school was rightly renamed General Studies. Already, the administration has built and equipped a massive classroom complex to accommodate the students. It has also furnished the office block for staff of the school. This is in line with one of the 72 targets of the Rector aimed at seeing to the wellbeing of staff and students.
The provision of adequate learning infrastructure is one target which the Arimanwa administration has meticulously achieved. This target is remarkably in tandem with the imperatives of 21st century education. And there is no doubt whatsoever that the Federal Polytechnic Nekede is a 21st century institution of higher learning that is on the pedestal of educational glory and sophistication.
As rightly observed by Prof Obianuju Oku in a recent function at the institution, the massive infrastructural revolution engineered by Engr Dr Michael Arimanwa has made the Federal Polytechnic Nekede ripe for a university. The good professor may not be a clairvoyant, but only time will justify this sincere prognosis. God bless the Federal Polytechnic Nekede.