By lamai cassius
Every journey has a story, some bitter, and some sweet. But it is the bitter-sweet memory that makes the story interesting. Like any other great individual, body or institution, Auchi Polytechnic has a story, and it is always best to tell it from the beginning.
The name Auchi Polytechnic has recently become synonymous with excellence, having broken from prejudiced boundaries and expected limitations and established itself among world class tertiary institutions in the world.
From its humble beginning as a technical college (the equivalent of a secondary school) in 1964 gifted to the then Mid-western region by the British government, the institution has metamorphosed through changes in social, economic and post-colonial political systems.
It was not until 1973 that the state government converted it to a fully-fledged polytechnic with the mandate to provide training and certification in disciplines in science, engineering, environmental studies, business, and art and design. All these were in a bid to imbue the Nigerian people with the relevant skills for self-reliance and national consciousness for the pursuit of national development.
True to its mission of offering relevant skills and knowledge in several areas of human endeavour, the polytechnic continued to provide sound instruction and practical knowledge to students offered admission and it has done so very well, making it one of the most reputable in the country.
The Midwest polytechnic, which took effect from April 1973, soon became an ambience for academic enhancement. It started off as a multi-campus institution with its headquarters in Benin City. While Benin housed the school of Business Studies with the department of Accountancy and Company Administration, Auchi retained the school of Engineering.
The first ever board of governors of the polytechnic was inaugurated in January 1974 with Mr. Rex Akpofure as its chairman and Mr. Francis Ekhaese as the first chief Executive and Academic Head of the polytechnic.
As a result of the growing need to enhance administrative effectiveness and convenience, the headquarters was moved back to Auchi in 1975 after the name had been changed to Auchi Polytechnic the previous year. Between these periods until 1976, the institution introduced a wider range of technological courses including a department of fine art and Design in its school of Business Studies.
The title “Principal” was adopted at the time to refer to the head of the polytechnic in 1976 after a new board of governors was instituted under the chairmanship of Professor A.M.A. Imevbore, Dr. P.O. Igharo emerged as the Principal of the institution. At this time a lot of improvements in human capacity building and academic were done including the upgrade of the 2 years OND courses to 4 years OND programmes as directed by the federal government.
By 1979/80, after a series of agitations and consultations with students, heads of institutions and various professional bodies, the 4 years courses were reverted to two-tier system of ND and HND with a one year industrial training exercise in between.
One historical event that cannot be left out was in May 1993, when the then president Ibrahim Babangida, at the end of his official visit to the then Bendel State/ Auchi, announced the federal government taking over of the polytechnic, making it a federal tertiary institution, and one of the foremost by way of establishment.
The rapid events and expansion that followed that landslide upgrade were enormous. Between 1990 and 1996, more departments were added to the polytechnic. In 1995, the school of Applied Science and Technology was founded to providing courses in Polymer Technology, Science Laboratory Technology, Catering and Hotel Management, Food Science and Technology.
By 2010, the polytechnic, under the leadership of its current Rector, Dr. (Mrs.) Philipa Idogho, established the school of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), a school that has since registered its presence among others. The department of Chemical Engineering was also added to the school of Engineering to make the institution compliant to the needs of the global market.
The rising preference of the institution by students as one of the most sought after polytechnic in Nigeria, and the increasing population presented a long time ago, a need only a visionary could see and see through to completion.
Presently, Auchi Polytechnic now has two main campuses, which are the campus one and the Dr. (Mrs.) Philipa Idogho campus popularly referred to as campus two. The now infrastructurally equipped campus two was birthed by the current Rector, an administrator per excellence, Dr. (Mrs.) Philipa Idogho who has stemmed the tides of gender, ethnic and moral sentiments and has championed the revolutionary change that is the testimony of Auchi Polytechnic today.
In the history of Auchi Polytechnic for the last 50 years, 10 individuals have headed the school. They are: E. C. Summers (1965-196)-principal, S. Greenholf (1967-69)- Principal, E. Bukley (1969-1972)-Principal, S. O. Egube (1972-1974)-Ag Director. F. I. Ekhaese (1974-1976)-Director, Dr. P. O. Igharo (1976-1987)-Principal.
Others are E. U. Bazuaye (1987-1989)-Rector, Prof. A.K. Yesufu (1989-1998)-Rector, Sir. O. F. Eboreime (1999-2007)-Rector, Sir. L.R. Akagbosu (2007-2008)-Ag Rector and the present Rector, Dr. Mrs. P.O. Idogho (2008 till date).
Among the past administrations, the last 6 years in the history of the institution has witnessed a tremendous metamorphoses/transformation in both human and infrastructural development scattered all across the main campuses. The polytechnic has also become more ICT-compliant to meet the demands of the 21st century. This has earned it several awards and honours. Today, Auchi Polytechnic is ranked No. 1 in Africa by Webmetrics.
Staff training and retraining is another major focus of the Philipa Idogho led administration where about 100 academic and non-academic staff are currently pursuing either Masters or PhD degrees in various institutions in Nigeria and oversees with the support from the polytechnic through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund).
The polytechnic under her leadership has sponsored a great number of staff to seminars and conferences both within and outside the country to expose them to new experiences and knowledge to help build their capacity and performances.
Apart from all the infrastructural development, staff welfare upgrade. Research and industrial promotion, and the massive investments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the polytechnic recently broke new grounds by commencing its degree-awarding programme in three departments of Business Administration, Accounting and Estate Management. The programme was instituted in affiliation with the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Akwa while the first set of the students were admitted for the 2014/2015 academic session and look forward to getting a Bachelors in Technology (B Tech) Degree after four years.
One of the first sets of the students, Oboitse Emmanuel studying Business Administration expressed his excitement at the development; saying with this programme, Auchi Polytechnic has been able to break the walls of discrimination that existed between universities and polytechnics.
On December 14, 2014, Auchi polytechnic will be 50 years old and there is a lot to celebrate. It has come a long way and the current administration of Dr. (Mrs.) Philipa Idogho has made it worthy of celebration.
Speaking with the Deputy Rector (Administration), Aigbnghale Frederick on the importance of the golden jubilee celebration, he stated that 50 years in the life of a man is not a mere thing and it is the same with a corporate organization like Auchi Polytechnic. According to him, there is every reason to thank God, from a mere technical college in 1964, Auchi Polytechnic has grown in leaps and a bound to be what it is today.
In fact, it is a first generation federal polytechnic in Nigeria and the only one in the south-south until recently when one was established in Bayelsa State. From that little beginning as a college, today we are beginning to award Degrees in affiliation with Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
On the present administration, he said “we must appreciate the efforts of the Rector, Dr. (Mrs.) P.O. Idogho who has taken giant strides in all areas since she came on board especially in human capacity development for both academic and non-academic staff”. He said that the staff quality has increased from having just two PhD holders to about 20 as at today.
On his part, the Dean, School of Evening Studies, Omeshiotse Femi Balogun is of the opinion that the journey has been very smooth while outlined some of the achievements of the polytechnic since inception especially in the last 6 years.
The Dean who disclosed that he has been with the polytechnic for 30 years, said the caliber of staff of the institution has really improved unlike before when it was a free-for all, now before one can be employed, he must have acquired a higher degree, even precisely a PhD
He said that 50 years is a milestone for any organization, as it is a time to reflect on the journey and looking at the challenges ahead, and plan to do better than in the past.
Balogun however decried the activities of the host community who are trying to lay claim to the polytechnic and dictate the policies and how the institution should be run. He reemphasized the fact that the polytechnic is a federal institution, owned by the federal government; for the benefit of every Nigerian. He said ‘this is not to say that the host community will not benefit from the institution. it is benefitting and that is in the area of cooperate social responsibility.
He called on the community leaders to deal with the polytechnic with such understanding and live continuously in peace with the polytechnic environment.
Speaking on the issue, Chief Alhaji Abubakar Umoru Akokhia, a high chief in south-Ibie and APC party chairman, Etsako west local government said that members of the host community must recognize the economic benefit and value of the polytechnic in the area, urging them to live in peace with students and staff of the polytechnic adding that without them there would be tenants and landlords in the area.
Assessing the current administration, Chief Alhaji Akokhia said that we must all thank the current Rector who has taken Auchi to where it is today through massive infrastructural development and so on.
He said ‘we must give kudos to whom we must give kudos. The Rector, Dr. (Mrs.) Idogho has done well. We must also thank the federal government for the support it is giving to the Rector. The people of Auchi should be grateful for this privilege
On his part the Dean of Student Affairs Barr. M. I. Imakhu spoke on the student discipline in the school for the last six years, describing it as a result of the Madam Rector motherly love.
He said for the last six years of this present administration, the school has not witnessed any form of student crises or unrest within the school environment especially the student involvement in cultism has completely reduced to the bearest minimum if not completely eradicated within the school environment saying that it was the Rector resolved that any student caught will be showed the way out of the institution.
Describing the Rector as a mother with large heart to accommodate, he said the students has discovered that there is more to benefit in a crises free environment than otherwise, hence, at every S.U.G election, the Students Affairs division usually organized seminar/leadership training for the executives to expose them to the task and challenges ahead of them, one however discovered that the student’s executive have no time to think of crises before the end of their tenure.
While congratulating the Rector, management, staff and students of the institution for the 50 years anniversary celebration, Barr. Imhaku said he is very happy that the school is celebrating 50 years during the time of the present Rector Dr. (Mrs.) Idogho who has done so much for the school in the last six years, he said there is no better time than this to celebrate the anniversary.
Auchi polytechnic now marks 50 years of its existence as an educational institution. The institution on December 14th 1964 by Hon. Dennis Chukwude Osadebay marked a turning point in the lives of countless Nigerians who have benefitted immensely from the brilliance and excellence of Auchi polytechnic. As such, the institution has produced eminent personalities such as the present Rector Dr. (Mrs.) P.O. Idogho, the traditional ruler of Igueben, HRH Zaki Ailuogierio, Maj. Gen. Charles Airevbere (rtd.) Among others.