By Abasiama Umoh
From the inception of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, the Governor has not treated his declaration that, “Every child means everything to us in this administration and should be equipped for future challenges and relevance” with levity. His administration has continued to place very high premium on education and skills development as education is pivotal to human capital development.
Governor Udom Emmanuel has continually reiterated his commitment to repositioning the education sub sector evidenced by the heavy investment made in remodeling schools and equipping them with modern amenities that would enable the Akwa Ibom Child compete with his counterparts from any part of the world.
Governor Emmanuel’s administration is committed to preparing the Akwa Ibom Child to be “competitive and ready for opportunities in the 21st century technology driven world”, is a commitment that has been adjudged to be legendary as found in the practical expression in the pockets of achievements littered across the three senatorial districts of the state in the education sub sector
The strategic intervention of the administration in the restoration, upgrade and expansion of primary and secondary school facility has continued to deliver remarkable result and improvement in the quality of public education system, even as funds has been released for the take over and comprehensive restoration and upgrade of scores of dilapidated primary and secondary schools across the state, including: renowned schools like AME Zion School, Ndon Ebom, Uruan, St Nicholas Primary School, Ikot Abasi, Primary School, Esa Atan, Ikot Ekpene and Nigerian Navy Military School, Ikot Ntuen, Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
Like many have said, before Udom Emmanuel became the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, he had his mission and vision well defined and cut out. From the health sector, to security, Road Infrastructure and Education amongst others, the former Banker already had well designed plans of what he wanted to do, to positively impact his people and unlock uncommon development in the state.
Becoming the Governor in 2015, he understood the place of education in any human setting. He knew that education is the life wire and bedrock of the Socio – political and economic development of any society and immediately swung into action, unveiling development in every facet of education in the state.
It is clear to him that every modicum of development in any human society is a function of how goodly educated the people are. So, like Prof. Hilary Inyang would always say, Udom Emmanuel believes that education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
It is in the light of this conviction that the governor, since the inception of his administration has not left any discerning mind in doubt about his proactiveness in returning education to its glorious days in the state. And he has been up and doing in that regards.
The Governor’s impacts in the state’s education sector are so massive that I would only attempt to elaborate but a few of them in this write up for lack of space.
Governor Emmanuel has constantly reaffirmed his commitment and believe in the qualitative, accessible, affordable and inclusive education in the state. While declaring open the Training of Principals and Vice Principals of public Secondary Schools, on Modern School Management and Administrative Methods, in Uyo, he was reported to have said, “Our best investment is in education, that is why we are investing hugely in the sector”.
Apparently, it is not surprising that in the last few years, the Udom Emmanuel administration has made concerted efforts to rewrite the history of education in the state by deliberately improving the standard of learning through the implementation of far reaching reforms as embedded in his administration’s Completion Agenda.
Realising that primary and secondary education are the bedrock of solid tertiary education, he did not waste time after assumption of office before he started the rehabilitation and re -equipment of primary and secondary schools in the State, introduced the Dakkada philosophy and philosophy to engender social reorientation and attitudinal change among youths and students.
Today, the result being the remarkable influx of National and International awards into the state as encapsulated in a recent report “that Gov. Udom Emmanuel is building a monument for educational development in Akwa Ibom State is no longer in doubt, as this is evidently clear in the many feats, laurels and trophies trooping into the state from the education sector almost on a daily basis. One of the areas that has enjoyed the cutting edge approach of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s leadership acumen in the State”.
“Pertinently, it could be recalled that two Junior Secondary School Students of Akwa Ibom State schooling at the Northern Annang Secondary Commercial School, NASCO, Utu Etim Ekpo in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, emerged 2nd runners up during the Stockholm Junior Water prize competition, which held in Stockholm, Sweden. The students who competed with 32 other countries had won the first position at the National level of the competition in Abuja, where they were celebrated by the governor and sponsored by Akwa Ibom State Government to represent Nigeria at the world level”.
Perhaps, with the understanding that education is the bedrock for the development of any society, Governor Emmanuel’s investment in the area of education is enormous and diverse with considerable efforts towards covering every gamut of the sector.
Recently, Akwa Ibom State branch of the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, STAN, had during the 59th Annual Conference of STAN which held in Katsina State, won the best branch of the year award. Other prizes and position won by the branch included, 2nd position in Science Quiz and Projects for Secondary School categories.
In the same vein, a state government own College, the State College, Ikot Ekpene, emerged the 1st best Junior Secondary School and 2nd best overall school during the 2018 Presidents Teachers and Schools Excellence Award, PT&SEA. These feats were made possible because of the governor’s determination to reposition the standard of education in the state and strongly indicative of the fact that Gov. Emmanuel has given priority attention to the overall development of education in the state, making sure that there is a complete rejigging of the system with particular focus on quality and sustainability.
Since Udom Emmanuel became governor, his resolve to ensure that education is taken to a new height in Akwa Ibom State, has led to the recruitment of about 3000 primary and secondary school teachers; massive rehabilitation and reconstruction of primary, secondary and higher institutions in the state; payment of subventions to school Heads and Principals to run their schools; provision of Science and laboratory equipments for school; construction of hostels to facilitate smooth boarding services in schools; taking over of 17 community schools by the state Government into the Free and Compulsory education scheme; supply of classroom furniture to schools in the 31 Local Government Areas; payment of internal and external examination fees for all students in public primary and secondary schools; provision of counterpart funding to access UBEC funds for over 300 projects across schools in the State.
Other signature projects that should not escape this piece are, commissioning of state – of – the – art ICT centers at some private and public schools in the state; procurement and distribution of exercise books, text books and other educational materials to public schools; funding of Refreshers Courses, Capacity Building Workshop for Teachers and Leaders; Training Programmes for schools; sponsoring of the state participation in National and International Conferences and competitions in which the state has been excelling, such as, Dr. Udoka Otobong Gabriel, a lecturer in Akwa Ibom State University, won World Championship in Translational – hull – Mathematics competition where 94 countries participated; Master Elijah Umanah who won the best student in intellectual bravery category – Indomie Independence Day Award; Blessing Umo Ukpong and Iniso Edward, students of Northern Annang Secondary Commercial School, Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, who were second runners up during 2018 Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition at Stockholm, Sweden.
As Akwa Ibom people celebrate their 33 Years of statehood, there exist a plethora of achievements towards the expansion and consolidation of the educational sector that must be accorded prominence in this piece, to include; funding of full accreditation of all the 38 Courses at the Akwa Ibom State University; building of internal Roads at College of Education and other tertiary institutions in the State; upgrading the status of Akwa Ibom State College of Education to degree awarding institution; upgrading of College of Arts and Science to Akwa Ibom State College of Arts, Science and Technology, with the attendant huge benefits; building the Theatre Arts Auditorium at Obio Akpa Campus and Administrative block at Ikot Akpaden Campus of Akwa Ibom State University; donation of Arts Gallery to University of Uyo by Her Excellency, Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel; collaboration with the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the establishment of Military Schools in the state, amongst others
To this end, the Udom Emmanuel’s administration has made huge financial investment in education beyond the fulfillment of its obligations. In addition to prompt payment of primary and secondary school teachers, grants and scholarships for students to travel for specialized studies have also been given priority attention.
The governor’s whirlwind in the State education sector did not stop at primary and secondary schools as the tertiary institutions are equally undergoing renovations and outright reconstructions in some cases.
Governor Emmanuel promptly reversed the ugly trend and positioned Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, AKWAPOLY, on a fast developing pedestal by releasing a grant of N100million to enable it meet the accreditation needs of its courses.
This was followed with massive provision of infrastructure, renovation of dilapidated buildings and facilitate other logistics needed to improve the quality of learning in the institution.
However, it could have been surprising as the institute would commence awarding of degrees to students in selected courses in partnership with Akwa Ibom State University.
Emmanuel’s large -heartedness and magnanimous spirit equally reflects in the lives of some very intelligent but indigene students whose parents are so poor that they could not finance their education. To this class of people, the governor has provided soft landing by offering them scholarships.
About 98 of such students have been given opportunity for private school experiences in both Topfaith International Schools and Tower of Ivory International Schools.
Even the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, AKHA, noticed governor Emmanuel’s excellent performance in educational sector, when it recently declared that his outstanding building blocks in education are quite glaring even to the blind, when it legislated on a “Bill to establish Akwa Ibom State College of Health Technology and other matters connected therewith; aimed at upgrading the School of Health Tech, Etinan.
The Akwa Ibom State Educational Think Tank, a 17 -man committee set up by Governor Udom Emmanuel, ably led by a distinguished Professor of Environment Engineering and Science, and Director, Global Institute of Energy and Environmental System, Prof. Hilary Inyang, whose duty is to steer a roadmap and put up modalities for revamping of the state’s educational system has continued to receive global commendations. Prof. Inyang and his team would be completing a landmark and unprecedented analysis of the Akwa Ibom educational system along with comprehensive design of improvements in curricula, infrastructure and equipment, and processes to be launched next month as the Akwa Ibom Strategic Roadmap on Education ( AKSER) 2020-2030. Prof. Inyang knows the status of intellectual systems in Nigeria because he is the primary author of the current Nigeria’s National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap ( NSTIR) 2017-2030 for the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
Prof. Inyang confirms, “this effort which no other State has attempted in Nigeria, is within the vision of Governor Emmanuel. His Excellency, the Governor should receive much credit for thinking beyond the term of his office and Administration”.
Governor Emmanuel, from all intent and purposes, seems to have aligned with Malcolm X, who sees education as a passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Little wonder, the Governor sustained submission remains that, what he has put into the educational sector is an investment, not an expenses.
Abasiama Umoh is a public affairs analyst based in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State