Education has been globally defined as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. Simply, it is the process of imparting all forms of knowledg, formal, non-formal and other forms. This is the more reason governments world over strive to adequately fund education at all levels. As often said, education is the best legacy to be bequeathed to youths who are the future leaders of nations, including Nigeria and Sokoto state. Doing otherwise would spell doom on the society.Little wonder therefore that the three tiers of government have been doing the needful by funding education: basic, secondary and tertiary.
The happy story is not in anyway different in Sokoto state, especially from 2015 to date under the administration of Gov Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. Though education is on the concurrent list of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the incumbent administration has defied all odds and accorded it priority at all levels. The Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic Sokoto is one of the tertiary educational institutions that have been enjoying adequate funding from the current administration. The polytechnic was established by Sokoto State Government vide law No 2 of 2002. It could be recalled that the old Sokoto state established a polytechnic at Birnin-Kebbi and Talata Mafara which were lost to present Kebbi and Zamfara states in 1991 and 1996, respectively.
Consequently, the government then in its determination to uplift the standard of education in the state merged the former Haliru Binji College of Arts and Science and Sani Abacha College of Administration and upgraded them to the status of a polytechnic with Dr Abubakar Umar Dikko as pioneer rector and late Alh Abubakar Zaki Tambuwal as the first chairman, governing council of the institution. The polytechnic took off in July 2001 with five colleges and later developed into seven.
It was therefore renamed Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto in 2016. These colleges are: College of Science and Technology (CST), College of Engineering (COE), College of Administrative and Business Studies (CABS), College of Arts and Humanities (CAH), College of General Studies (CGS), College of Environmental Studies (CES) and College of Agriculture (COA)The objectives of the polytechnic include providing courses of study, training and research in engineering, science, technology, secretarial/business and preliminary studies for the purpose of technological and economic advancement of the state, as well as providing entry requirements into university and other institutions of higher learning.Others are to offer courses of study at Certificates, National and Higher National Diploma, Polytechnic Diploma and other levels in Arts, Language, Science, Technology and other branches of learning with the ultimate purposes of service to the society and beyond. Its also to provide, through teaching, research and other means, the advancement of knowledge and its practical application to the needs of the society and beyond, among others.History was therefore recorded on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at the polytechnic when it successfully conducted the 2nd convocation ceremony sequel to the maiden one held in 2014.
The epoch-making event yet again brought to limelight the trail-blazing achievements of the premier institution. On that day, all roads led to the polytechnic.Addressing the graduands, the visitor to the polytechnic, Gov Tambuwal happily noted that the instution is actualising the dream of its founding fathers. According to him, it has over the years churned out professionals in various fields in Science, Technology, Administration and even in the Arts. Tambuwal said, “Distinguished personalities, the naming of this institution as Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic is the idea of this administration, not only as a fitting immortalisation of our revered and great leader Alh Umaru Ali Shinkafi (Marafan Sokoto) but also a very cogent move to have this citadel of learning in Science and Technology associated with him. “I must say that I am impressed by the performance of the management of the institution as indicated by the reports I have been receiving and the report card presented by the rector. You are indeed on course towards achieving the spirit and letter of our government’s declaration of a state of emergency on education.”Tambuwal said, “The state government has been doing everything necessary to ensure that products of our institutions are well-groomed and are well baked to compete with their counterparts, nationally and internationally.”To this end, the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic and other tertiary institutions are being given the desired attention.
To ensure a conducive teaching, learning and research atmosphere, a brand-new auditorium is being constructed in this polytechnic following the fire incident that destroyed the old facility. Also, CONPCASS and CONTEDISS salary structures have been implemented for both academic and non-academic staff of higher institutions in the state. “Let me express appreciation to TETFUND for its enormous work in providing infrastructure at institutions of learning across the nation, including Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic. I must commend the chairman of council, management, staff, and students of this school for carrying out hitch-free academic activities through the years. As a government that is concerned with the resuscitation of education at all levels, we would not spare any effort towards positioning this great institution on a high pedestal.”In conclusion, I congratulate the polytechnic for this milestone.
For the graduating students, I enjoin you to make us proud by being good ambassadors of your school and Sokoto state. You should employ your acquired knowledge and skills towards moving yourselves, your state and nation forward,” the governor said. The chairman of the council and former deputy governor of the state, Barr Mukhtari Shagari, expressed delight that the institution has received enormous support from the present administration. “So, this is the time distinguished ladies and gentlemen that I deem appropriate to express our sincere appreciation and to place our hope and expectation for even more support and assistance.”I have kept close link with the management of this institution and I am happy to report that we have been able to achieve satisfactorily. Let me charge the management, staff and students of the polytechnic that with all the facilities for learning at our disposal, we shall reciprocate state government’s effort by striving hard to achieving more successes.
“Finally, I wish to congratulate all of you, the graduating students and wish you successes in your careers. I wish my distinguished guests and all the people present a peaceful and successful celebration and safe return to your respective destinations after the ceremony.”Also speaking, the commissioner for higher education, Professor Bashir Garba, said, “His Excellency’s administration is a legacy well-articulated and is being achieved as the education sector, despite the setting in of the economic recession and COVID-19 pandemic, had been growing from strength to strength in all ramifications. “There is no doubt therefore that Ummaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic is one of the leading polytechnics in the country and we attribute this success to the support and cooperation the institution is getting from the state government.
We must appreciate the fact that government has many other commitments to attend to, thus, we commend the state governor for the attention and contribution so far in the development of the sector. “However, I wish to call for more generous attention in favour of tertiary institutions in the state.”The rector of the polytechnic, Professor Aminu Alhaji Ibrahim, said, “Today remains a wonderful day. It is a day that marks yet another breakthrough in the history of educational development in Sokoto state in particular and Nigeria in general. It is a day when great men and women of vision and mission come to observe and celebrate with us in the celebration of scholarship. Words cannot therefore, sufficiently express my joy and pride for being the one to have this rare opportunity of setting this time – making occasion.”The erudite professor continued, “Your Excellency, the visitor, Sir, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, today is a special day and occasion when we rejoice our successes and achievements as an academic institution. I am indeed delighted by the increase in the number of our graduates year-by-year which tallies with the ever-increasing number of our programmes. This in itself stands as a testimony that we are actualising the dream of our founding fathers. At this convocation ceremony, the polytechnic is awarding diplomas and certificates to a total of 18,428 graduands being the combined sets of 2013/2014 to 2018/2019 academic sessions.
“The rector also reiterated the commitment and determination of the management to maintain the tradition of the polytechnic: the tradition of producing quality graduands that can compete favourably with their counterparts across the world.
This tradition is in line with the vision of the polytechnic which is to be a polytechnic of high academic excellence for the ultimate purpose of providing relevant and skilled manpower needed for the economic and technological growth and development of the nation through teaching, research, linkages and community service.” It was really heart warming that the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic has continued to weather the storm and set the pace in terms of the delivery of quality higher education to thousands of budding youths from the state and beyond. All these tangible achievements could not have been possible without the requisite sustained moral and financial support to the Institution from the Aminu Waziri Tambuwal-led administration.
Mustapha, a journalist, writes from Sokoto.