I’ve forgiven those who opposed my reappointment —Fedpoly rector
Dr Abubakar Addul Dzukogi is the 11th rector of Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State. In this interview with Adelowo Oladipo, he speaks about the giant strides achieved by the institution during his first term in office and the recent controversy generated by the national body of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) over his reappointment in office, among other issues.
CONGRATULATIONS on your reappointment as the rector of Federal Polytechnic, Bida. What is your road map for the polytechnic in the next four years?
We will consolidate on our achievements in all critical areas that we embarked upon in the past four years. We are also going to work assiduously on the area of academic integrity because we want our examinations to be more transparent, so that our students can actually earn the certificates that will be given to them. Also, we want to have more programmes and as I speak, we have about 54 programmes. Currently, resource inspection is going on concerning these. Hopefully, in the next three to four weeks, we will have additional programmes, aside the degree programmes with the Kwara State University and Federal University of Technology, Minna. We are looking forward to having some departments in the polytechnic owning their own buildings. We have been training our staff; more than 80 of them are now computer-literate. Also, concerning the welfare of our staff and students, we have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a private developer for additional hostel accommodation, because only 25 per cent of our students live on campus while the remaining 75 per cent live off campus.
What is the rank of your polytechnic among other polytechnics in the country?
We are ranked fifth among the entire polytechnics in the country and we are trying to push the position to the first position by the grace of God. We want to be the best in the country. You can see that generally, my second term as the rector of this polytechnic is more of consolidation. However, in the area of discipline, where we have received a serious attention will constitute a major policy thrust in this administration among the staff and students. By fortifying our SERVICOM, we have succeeded in having an attitudinal change in our staff about the time they come to work and close on each day of the week. This is to be able to apply the appropriate sanction no matter who is involved.
But your students are complaining that the fee charged by the polytechnic is high against the backdrop that it is a federal institution. What is your take on this?
I think the fee being charged here is still the lowest, compared to other institutions around us. Even at the Federal Government colleges in the country, students don’t pay less than a N100,000. I don’t think any student pays up to that amount in Federal Polytechnic, Bida. Our fee is as low as N28,000 per session. We are considered to be one of the lowest-paying institutions and this is why I normally ask students to do comparative analysis. Even, opportunities are given to some of them to pay their school fees in two installments. Also, for those with extreme cases, we give loans to enable them to pay their school fees, asking them to pay back later, while their parents are responsible for their feeding. The loans we give to indigent students are in accordance with amount of school fees paid. We cannot on the account of lack of money deprive our students the opportunity of studying. We have received a lot of praises on this. Generally, my second term will be much better.
The news of your reappointment by President Buhari also generated some controversies by the national body of ASUP. What do you think was responsible for this negative trend and how did you feel about it?
It was a very unfortunate incident; embarrassing and absolutely unnecessary. The people who were against my reappointment were just displaying ignorance. Some of them claimed to have acquired PhD, but they behaved like illiterates. Fortunately, I was not accused of corruption or non-performance. They claimed that I have just two years left and that I should not be given four years to complete my tenure. They were agitating ignorantly simply because they have no documents to support their position. Ordinarily, in an academic community, what should be of concern to the people is whether I performed or not, but to bring the issue of age into their argument is neither here nor there. Again, some people were using the union as a platform to propagate personal agenda or ambitions. So, my advice to them is that they should exercise patience; I will not be there forever, I will go at the end of my tenure. Some of them have learnt a lot of lessons from their mistakes and I have also forgiven them. I have asked them to join me in ensuring that all hands be on the deck to move the polytechnic forward.
Recently, you inaugurated a solar energy system for weather situations and other facilities in the polytechnic. What are you doing to improve on the erratic telecommunication network on the campus?
We have written letters to network providers on the campus, such as Airtel and Globacom. We also wrote to MTN and I think the responses have been very encouraging. Some of them have come for feasibility studies in order to find a way of addressing the problems. As a matter of fact, as an institution, we have a very robust fibre optic system, through which students have access to bandwidth and we have just paid for it. Also very soon, students will start enjoying wireless data services everywhere on the campus.
What legacy are you trying to leave behind in the polytechnic at the end of your second term in office?
Like I said earlier, I want to be remembered as a man who came, saw and did not leave what he saw the way he met it. I want to be remembered as the rector who promoted the institution to the highest imaginable level, meaning that I contributed into making the polytechnic become one of the greatest institutions of higher learning in the federation. I am still praying and hoping to make the Federal Polytechnic Bida the number one polytechnic in the country before the expiration of my second term in office. Our graduates are doing very well in the labour market and our accreditations have been very perfect. Presently, students who graduated in the last academic session are being mobilised for the National Youth Service Corps.
Recently, the polytechnic as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) donated a shea butter shed and some tools running into several millions of naira to some cottage industries in about three host communities in Lavun and Bida Local Government Areas of the state. What inform the decision?
I am the 11th rector of the polytechnic. No rector in the past has ever thought of giving back to the host communities as part of our CSR. This we have been doing consistently since we came on board. The people of the communities were very happy and their responses to our contributions have been very wonderful. In fact, as I speak, there are requests on my table from some of these villages that are having serious problems with getting potable water supply for provision of boreholes by us. We are looking into them. We just feel that we have a responsibility of making life better for our people, particularly our neighbours.