Taraba State Polytechnic is one of the fastest growing institutions in Nigeria. In this piece, ANDREW OJIH takes a look at Tetfund intervention and the leadership style of its rector, Dr Ayuba Abershi leading to the current height.
The Taraba State Polytechnic in Suntai, like most other academic institutions in the state has, no doubt, suffered serious infrastructural deficit over the years with staff, including the rector inhabiting offices that were devoid of conveniences even as the institution once looked like an abandoned community secondary school.
In the last few years however, the interventions from Tertiary Education Trust Funds (TETFund) has changed the narratives.
In recent times, the polytechnic under Dr Ayuba Abarshi has witnessed drastic infrastructural transformation, with more befiting buildings and conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning.
Until recently, the main office block of the polytechnic was an eyesore as it was bereft of any inconveniences.
However with assistance from TETfund, decent and befiting office spaces for lecturers and other staff of the polytechnic have been provided.
The institurion’s director of works, Mr Samuel told Blueprint that before now, the situation was actually very bad. “In most cases, we had to rush home in the middle of the day to use conveniences at home or other public conveniences. And because the offices were also very small, we had to stockpile documents and other things such that the offices were simply chocking. It was hell working under these conditions back then.
“With the provision of these new offices now, there are times I simply work till very late in the night without even realising how late it is. The offices now are habitable, spacious, decent and very comfortable. It has also greatly increased our productivity to a very large extent.”
Mr Terfa kunde, a student of the polytechnic who graduated a few years ago confided in this correspondent that the lecture rooms at the state poly were more of cages than what are lecture rooms.
“One of the major problems we had in the school was lecture rooms. They were just so small, disorganised and so poorly ventilated such that each lecture was nearly a nightmare. The last time I went to the school, I saw that they have a lot of new lecture halls and have even renovated most of the old ones. I think that would have great impact on teaching and learning now.”
Investgation revealks that the newly-completed science and environmental buildings, the technical workshop, the farm house, and other structures have not only ensured sufficient space for learning and administrative works, but have also largely increase the general outlook of the school.
Just recently, more than 13 members of staff completed their Doctorate degrees while several are undergoing training in various disciplines. A lot more have been sponsored for Masters degrees and several seminars and workshops have been organised by the school to train and retrain the lecturers on new trends in the teaching profession and other areas. This is aimed at ensuring that the staff remain in tune with emerging trends and contemporary developments in their respective fields.
Over the years, the school perimeter has remained completely porous thereby allowing encroachment from the surrounding villages with unhindered trespass on the institution’s property. To that extent, students have been reportedly attacked right on campus while some female students were usually raped.
To address the challenge, the polytechnic just completed the construction of about 10 kilometre perimeter fence around the school with about four gates for ease of access by the school community. Since the completion of the perimeter fence with the gates manned by security personnel, there has been any reported reported attack on students on the campus.
Currently, the school is undergoing the construction of a 300 bed space facility for female students with sponsorship from Tetfund.
According to Miss Juliet Ibrahim who is a student of the polytechnic, the hostel is a major plus as accommodation has remained a major challenge especially from students coming outside the state.
She said, “It is always very difficult to get accommodation around here and even when you do, it is still very expensive. So, if the school is able to provide accommodation on campus for most of the students, the pressure on accommodation outside would be eased to some extent. In any case, it is more convenient to stay in school and enjoy other benefits such as light and power and the relative security the campus offers.”
According to the rector Dr Abarshi, “The management and board of the polytechnic actually sat and decided that there was need to upgrade the school in all its ramifications. Consequently we set out to do all we could given the scarce resources. “Fortunately, Tetfund has been of tremendous help. They have funded most of the projects on both campuses and that has drastically changed the outlook of the school.
“However, this is work in progress and there is still so much to be done. We have some ongoing projects and others that we are still hoping to secure funding to execute. In the end, our ultimate aim is to make sure that we position the school to provide the best learning environment and experience for our students and make teaching and working a pleasant experience for our staff. We just want to be among the leading polytechnics in the country and beyond.”
No doubt, when the name Dr Abershi was mentioned as the rector of the polytechnic, little did the institution and its host communities know that a serial achiever was appointed to pilot the affairs of the institution.
The little they heard about him gave them a glimmer of hope that he would build on what his predecessor did.
As soon as he took over the mantle of leadership as the rector, he gave a marching orders to graduate assistants to proceed further in their studies. This includes other ranks that were yet to bag their doctorates.
Investigation shows that the extent of staff development programmes put in place in the polytechnic is unprecedented.
For instance, the only thing staff needs in order to enjoy training is employment letter. As a result of this staff development approach, the polytechnic boasts of many Masters degree holders as well as doctoral degree holders. This is also extended to non-teaching staff in the institution.
It is as result of this that many non-teaching staff with excellent results and are interested in the field of academics have been converted to academic staff.
According to a staff member who preferred anonymity, “At the time Dr Ayuba Abershi came, we had barely up to six PhD holders, but at the moment, there are many doctoral degree holders and other ranks as a result of harvests of promotions engendered by Dr Abershi when he came.
“He believes that there is no reason to deny any hardworking qualified staff his or her promotion on some flimsy grounds.
“Many staff members of the institution can attest to these facts. Very few members, if any, can say have not enjoyed any of Dr Abershi’s goodies,” he said.
Paulina Iliyamu, a diplome student in the Department of Communications told Blueprint that the smooth running of academic programmes in the polytechnic has attracted students’ population into the school.
Shee said, “In terms of infrastructure, the rector has turned the polytechnic into a construction site as massive infrastructural projects are currently ongoing in the school.
“We are lucky to have someone like him at the helms of affairs. If we had him from the beginning to lay the foundation, this poly would have been far from where it is currently,” he said.
Steady growth/ economic activities
Residents of Jalingo, the state capital have expressed joy that the steady and uninterrupted growth in the polytechnic under the leadership of Dr Abershi is a boost to the economic activities of the host communities.
The residents commended the rector through Tetfund for providing infrastructural development to the institution thereby giving room for expansion of economic activities.
They expressed satisfaction that Dr Abeshi has make a good turn around in the history of the polytechnic that makes it a first class institution.
They argued that Tetfund intervention and his achievements have earned the institution national and international recognitions.