Some days back, precisely, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, Governing Councils were inaugurated for three tertiary institutions in Rivers State, with Governor Siminalayi Fubara performing the inauguration.

The institutions include the Rivers State University (RSU), Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE), and Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic (CEAPOLY).

Governor Fubara expressed confidence in the members who were so constituted into those councils. The members, reputable sons and daughters of the state, patriots with forward-looking mindsets, have in their care the task of bringing their wealth of experience to shore up the expectations of what those citadels must necessarily have been. These council members would supervise virtually every activity in those institutions. Their task demands results, such that it will serve as tangible proof of their effectiveness. They have, however, assumed duties as governing council members.

But arising from the charge that was given to them by the Governor, they would commit to diligence and be keen with issues that relate to effective administration. The imperativeness of proper coordination of how resources are tracked, sourced and deployed will be far reaching to addressing funding issues. They would also refuse to be damped with those traits that show institutional corruption that they would meet; rather, they should be more decisive in handling them so that such do not continue to frustrate the climate of excellence, prudence, and transparency.

The task is daunting. Yet, they would not chicken out concerning how to draw up measures that will address any problem of insecurity that may subsist on any of the campuses, while identifying weak administrators within the system. It would be proper understanding that would help them on how to tackle the challenges such weak administrators pose, including, not only identifying, but also knowing what to do exactly with issues of poor capacity development of academic staff, among others.

Governor Fubara has hidden no intention about seeing the councils work in synergy and cooperate with the managements of those institutions in a manner that reduces friction so that expected success is not undermined. Empathy is part of traits associated with his administration. Human beings should be treated as humans. But recalcitrant tendencies are legally intolerable. That is how to draw the line. So, the councils should cater to issues of welfare of the staff, know exactly what to do with the issues of inadequate academic staff and fill the void.

Already, at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, that challenge would be addressed. Governor Fubara had given the directive for the recommencement of the employment process hitherto cancelled last year. By the directive, only 869 persons will be employed. The previous exercise was marred by irregularities and it was cancelled.

This will be an entirely new process with fresh applications sought, received, sorted and those assessed qualified duly invited, interviewed and engaged. The directive exphasised that the process must be based on merit. The number of academic staff to be engaged must be more than those engaged as non-academic staff. The quotas are already specified.

He said: “I know the good people of Rivers State and the most energetic youths are waiting to hear something from me, and this is about the employment that was cancelled.

“Let me here and now approve the recommencement of employment of members of staff, both academic and non-academic, for Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, with this pronouncement.

“That employment exercise must be strictly on the basis of the initial approval of 869 with a percentage for the academic and non- academic staff.

“In the higher institutions, what is needed is academic staff and not too much of non-academic staff.

“Therefore, Pro-Chancellor and members of council, make sure that the exercise is strictly based on the approval, and those to be employed must be on merit basis and not man-no-man.

“It is an institution, a citadel of learning where you are supposed to impart knowledge. If you bring down the standard, I assure you we are creating monsters that will destroy our society. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any compromise.

“Therefore, we are saddling you with more tasking responsibility, and we believe you are going to deliver.

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“I have no doubt in the delivery ability and capability of Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka. I know that at the end of this exercise, we will all be happy. Let me on this note wish you well as you discharge this onerous responsibility in this most critical time of our dear state.”

At the Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, there are issues of staffing, poor condition of infrastructural facilities for both learning and administration. The demand is for more of such to be provided. The council has the charge of the Governor. Within available resources as much that can be achieved within the tenure, strides will be taken to addressing the existing deficit.

Also, members of the governing councils would be mindful in setting out an enduring premise that will engender sustainable improvement of the existing infrastructural facilities in all three institutions. Much more is the fact that the content of courses and curricula that are espouse to students reflect current reality.

In fact, educational outcome has become an issue to look at more closely. Governor Fubara has done so. He desires to see students, and indeed, graduates, boast about their educational worth, not on the strength of how much “grammar” they speak but what they can actually do with their hands. Acquiring skills has become so important these days amid growing scarcity of pay jobs, which is why Rivers students should benefit from functional educational coaching.

This is why the Governor recalled when Rivers State was among top states in the federation with competitive academic performance, and said it was time to return the state to that path of excellence.

He said, “We were noted for something exceptional in the education sector many years ago. When you come to Rivers State, you’ll see interesting competition in education. Today, the competition is no longer in education; it is in the number of violent incidents.

“We need to change the strategy, we need to let people understand that the only way that we will develop our State is with quality education.

“In China, the secret behind their success is their brain put in their hands. When they think, they make it happen. They don’t sit in their homes to think, they go to quality schools, no matter how it is. They are built to become useful to themselves and the society.”

Governor Fubara, therefore, charged members of the new council to do something different from the normal things that they see happening in the institution.

He said, “Make sure you give the polytechnic a direction. I have had a few complaints, and I strongly believe that by setting up this council today, all the issues in that school will be resolved.”

He specifically said: “We have issues of employment, we have issues of staff welfare, we have issues of indiscipline by members of the staff.

“I know quite alright that with the calibre of the council members, you have what it takes to put that institution on the right path.”

Within the policy thrust of the administration for the education sector, Governor Fubara has mapped out so succinctly, the place of functional education. Upon what is tenable, the focus, as he explained it to the council members, will be to build on, and consolidate on critical strides made already. First, it is to ensure universal access to education at all levels for Rivers children. Then, it would be to ensure that admission into university of study is competitive, and those students so admitted are trained to complete their study, eventually on merit.

Indeed, there are chains of academic engagements that can propel students forward in their education. Learning has to be so connected that the classroom and what happens therein, is not isolated from what the world demands. Governor Fubara wants the council members to help build those institutions to be where students can confidently get inspired to have a greater sense of purpose, self-efficacy, and curiosity towards gaining skills, knowledge, and qualifications in order to maintain employment as graduates.