Dr. Mrs. Philipa O. Idogho is one of the happiest women on earth today. Reason, the institution she presides over as Rector, has achieved so much in its 50 years of existence. In this chat with our senior Reporter, Lamai Cassius, she speaks on the journey so far and with boldness says challenges are meant to be overcome and used as instrument for positive growth.
How would you describe the life of Auchi Polytechnic @ 50?
It is a long and glorious history; if the institution were a human being, at 50, it would be time to sit back and see how investments made in family, children and business are yielding dividends.
So, as a first generation technological institution, there is so much to which we can proudly lay claim. Our products are playing active roles in different critical sectors of the nation’s economy. Our hands and brains are actually contributing immeasurably to national development.
What is your assessment as one who has been here for years, first as a student, lecturer and now as a Rector?
The institution, undeniably, has gone through transitions. We are indebted to the founding authorities that laboured to establish the institution’s administrative, academic and social framework, and passed the torch down the line to us. Administrations come and go, but Auchi Polytechnic remains, and there is always posterity to judge the net impact of our contributions to the institution’s supra-system.
At 50, are you satisfied with the level of infrastructural development in the institution so far?
Without doubt, we have made our modest contributions to the infrastructural transformation of Auchi Polytechnic.
But our target is to create a learning environment in which students do not struggle for use of lecture rooms; where our laboratories have the right equipment and facilities such that on graduation, our products are left with the choice to either seek paid employment or be self employed; where the library system guarantees access to current reading and research materials, both in hard and electronic copies; where our teaching and non-teaching staff are properly motivated, comfortably accommodated and demonstrate the right quality of efficiency because they are exposed to quality capacity development programmes both locally and internationally. Ours is a big dream, to make Auchi Polytechnic a global brand name.
As Rector, have you been able to attract the attention of donor agencies (like unesco) for assistance in your drive to take the Polytechnic to the next level?
It is not easy to get the attention of these global agencies for now. But very soon, it will be the agencies seeking to partner with us when the inputs we are making now begin to mature. But meanwhile, we are making prudent use of our internally generated revenue, coupled with generous support from government agencies, to achieve our set developmental objectives.
We would like to know the major challenges you may have faced in your first few years in office and how you were able to overcome them.
I was brought up to see challenges as necessary ingredients for positive growth and development.
I have held different posts in this institution: departmental Equipment Officer, Time4able officer, then departmental Examination Officer, Head of Department and then Dean. Each appointment brought along its peculiar set of challenges.
Thus, my appointment as Rector only increased the scale of decisions and issues that require attention. My driving urge has been to justify the confidence reposed in me by the President, and to assure myself that I can do it. The teething challenges I faced only served as the tonic needed to stay focused on the tasks that faced us as a first generation polytechnic.
What about your achievements?
It is our achievements; everybody, no matter at what level, who has done his bit conscientiously, is part of the success story, which is there for all to see and attest to.
How cordial is your relationship with your team of management and staff for the past years?
I must give thanks to God who has given me an amazing management team to work with these past years. What else can one wish for when one’s management team and staff evolve into a close family unit where the common objective is to ensure things work well? You cannot ask for more.
There is this insinuation around that some of the lecturers are involved in blocking and sexual harassment, how true is this?
Over the years, we have orientated our staff, both teaching and non-teaching, to set and observe respectable work ethics and personal moral standards, to take pride in the names they bear in and out of office.
I am proud of my staff. But, of course, we are a normal human community, and do have our own sprinkling of deviants. There are appropriate administrative instruments to deal with unethical conduct by staff, if and when they are reported.
What is your assessment of the academic performance of students over the years?
There are many factors that determine students learning outcomes.
They include quality of learning environment, quality of print and non-print learning materials, quality, experience and motivation level of teaching staff, and the students themselves.
Some of these variables can be controlled and others are beyond our control. In the final analysis, students must take responsibility for their own learning, after all necessary inputs have been made.
Nevertheless, I am glad to note that, in general terms, our students perform competitively within prevailing national standards; they have won laurels at national mathematical and debate competitions.
Some of them easily pass the relevant professional examinations while yet in school, or soon after graduation.
What is the significance of the 50 anniversary to the Polytechnic?
As I said at the beginning, if the school was a human being, it would be a significant milestone in the person’s life journey. He or she would probably be a well-invested grand- parent that is exactly how we feel.
Auchi Polytechnic has produced quality personnel for the construction, corporate, socio economic, political and religious sectors of Nigeria. Our products hold their heads proudly high wherever the spirit of enterprise, for which the institution is known, leads them.
We celebrate the labours of the institution’s heroes, both those alive and those who are no more; evidently, their labour has not been in vain.
In summary, we are celebrating the coming of age of our great institution.
If you were opportuned to recommend your successor, would you recommend another female?
Why not, if the female has the rights personal drive to impact humanity? But it is an open ticket for anyone whose over-riding desire is to consolidate Auchi Polytechnic’s membership of the world’s cream of technological institutions.
Your message to the people.
The Bible says that nothing shall be impossible to those who believe.
Believe in yourself, challenge and motivate others to do same; build and maintain a network of human resource (because you cannot do it alone), consult, do self-evaluation, be proactive, be firm when necessary, and always go back to God.