As Bill to establish Federal Polytechnic, Aba, passes second reading

Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

Once again, another good news is reverberating across the 17 local government areas of Abia State. The bill to establish a federal polytechnic in Aba, Abia State, has scaled through the second reading. Abians have rolled out the drums to celebrate this feat.

The bill entitled: “A bill for an Act to Provide for Establishment of the Federal Polytechnic, Aba, Abia State; and for Related Matters (HB.1613)”, emanated from the Senate and was seeking concurrence in the House of Representatives for second reading.

Many thanks to the House of Representatives members who lent their support to the bill scaling the second reading, despite strong opposition from the member representing Ukwa West/East Federal Constituency, Uzoma Abonta.

Many factors favoured the siting of a federal polytechnic in Aba. Unarguably, Aba is noted for industrial ingenuity, and one can only leverage on modern technology to improve this. Besides, there are factories littering the nooks and crannies of the commercial verve-centre. The establishment of a federal polytechnic will go a long way in growing such initiatives.

Aba, indisputably, is the home of artisans who are expected to upgrade their status and enhance skill acquisition from the polytechnic. Abia State Polytechnic has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with two organizations: the Association of Tailors and Fashion Designers (ATFAD) and Leather Products Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. The MoU is part of the institution’s numerous efforts to boost the business activities of Aba metropolis.

The three-month programme targets small and medium manufacturers in the city and would ensure that every member of the associations in the city is acquainted with the basic skills of doing business. The courses outlined in the MoU are Basic Mathematics, Basic Management Principles, Basic English and Basic Book-Keeping.

The three months certificate programme is a transformation process for the artisans, upgrading them from local artisans to more knowledgeable entrepreneurs, who are also empowered with certificates (which society venerates).

When established, the federal polytechnic will contribute immensely in the current stride of Aba to sustain its status as the SME-hub of the country. The institution will provide manpower for the state’s drive towards technology. A resounding applause to Senator Theodore Orji for sponsoring the  bill.

It will be recalled that the House of Representatives had earlier begun the process of upgrading the Abia State Polytechnic to a federal polytechnic status. In a motion sponsored by Uzo Azubuike (who was then representing Aba South/North Federal Constituency, he noted: “The only federal presence in Aba are the Nigeria Police and Federal Prisons Service, despite teeming population of youths yearning to gain tertiary education.” The motion was adopted.

The Senate, before now, had passed two bills establishing federal polytechnics in Aba, Abia State and Silame in Sokoto State. This followed consideration of reports of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND at plenary.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Jibrin Barau, said the bills scaled second reading on different dates and were referred to the committee for further legislative action.

According to him, public hearings were held on the bills and the committee drafted its report based on the positive outcome of the public hearings.

His words: “The committee and participants agreed with the intention of the bills to establish the polytechnics to facilitate technical education to accommodate those who are unable to gain admission into higher institutions.”

On the opposition by Uzoma Abonta, it is unfortunate for a legislator who hails from Abia State to oppose such laudable project for selfish reasons, but we do not rule out the natural possibility that in every laudable project, there must be Sanballahs and Tobiases.

However, the response by the Speaker Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, aptly addresses his opposition: “God forbid that I should be sent to the arena of conflict. It even baffles me that we don’t have a polytechnic already in Aba. The location shouldn’t be a problem. If there is a place to establish a federal polytechnic in Nigeria, it should be in Aba. It is long overdue. When it gets to committee level, you can raise those issues.”

•Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu, a public policy analyst, writes from Aba, via [email protected]

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