Kogi State Polytechnic was established in Lokoja by the administration of late Prince Abubakar Audu in 1993 to cater for the educational needs of the newly created state. At inception in 1991, Kogi had only a state college of education at Ankpa which it inherited from the old Benue state to boast of.
As a former student of the school who acquired a National Diploma in Arts and Industrial Design in 1997, and who transferred his 2-year-old service as a civil servant from the former Kogi State Primary Education Board (SPEB) now SUBEB in 2004 to the Institution as a lecturer, I have the urge, knowledge and obligation to put down fact for record purposes and posterity.
The first rector of the Polytechnic, Dr. I.A Isah started off the institution at the site of the present day Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, which was originally a technical college. It had no requisite structures to house an institution of a polytechnic standard.
The maiden Rector did little to solve the infrastructural needs of the polytechnic before handing over its affairs to his successor Mr Obajimoh.
In his wisdom, Mr Obajimoh only mitigated the infrastructural problem of the polytechnic by relocating from its temporary site to a bigger site on the Abuja-Benin highway which was accommodating the defunct Lokoja Teachers College.
Mr Obajimoh handed over the school with the unresolved infrastructural problem to Dr J. Omada who only ran the school till 2005 when the matriculation ceremony of fresh students was disrupted by hoodlums who set fire to the rector’s office and damaged several vehicles before escaping. The incident may have been related to a struggle over who would succeed the rector.
He was eventually succeeded by Chief A.B Ojo in 2006. With his experience as a two-time rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti, Chief Ojo was able to reconcile and bring about peace and unity in the Polytechnic, but for his short stay, little was achieved under Ojo in the area of infrastructural development.
He later handed over to Prof Matthew Ajibero of Bayero University, Kano, who transformed polytechnic within the period of eight year. After the expiration of his tenure in 2007, he was succeeded Mr. Isah Mohammed who only dwelled on the achievements of Ajibero until he handed over to Prof. M.S Atureta in 2018. Prof Atureta’s tenure was shortlived and was replaced by the present Acting Rector, Dr. Usman Ogbo.
While not belittling the efforts of past rectors of the institution, credit must be given to the immediate past rector, Prof. Atureta on whose ground work Dr. Salisu Ogbo Usman is building strongly on and has humbly acknowledged, most especially as projects of previous administrations are rarely continued in our clime, Ogbo is setting the pace by keeping the ball rolling. However, I can say authoritatively that the institution has within the last 100 days witnessed an unprecedented record of tremendous infrastructural facelift and development.
The magic wand behind this feat is no other person than the present acting rector, Dr. Usman Salisu Ogbo, who on assumption of duty, hit the ground running by making appointments and rejigging the managerial structure of the polytechnic.
Because the appointments were devoid of political leanings and sentiments, square pegs that could proffer cutting edge solutions to the present day challenges the academic institution is grappling with, were put in square holes by Dr Ogbo to make his administration to run smoothly.
With Dr Lamidi Kehinde as a loyal and supportive Deputy Rector, Usman Ogbo’s accelerated progress in just 100 days was made easy.
My path and the current Rector crossed some years ago and more closely last year during political activities. I observed in him from the very first day of my encounter with him that he is pragmatic walking encyclopedia and a connoisseur of radical and proactive ideas. A minute is enough for him to proffer solutions to lingering problems. The quality he reenacted in the polytechnic to make his 100 days in office a huge success.
Dr Ogbo is futuristic and a deep thinker. One radical ideas he shared with the writer was that of the possibility of creating a synergy between the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja and the Kogi State University. Since the hospital is well equipped to the standard of a teaching hospital, he said it could be used to graduate the university’s hanging medical students and subsequent ones.
A one time Dean, Students’ Affairs of the Kogi State University, Anyigba, Usman Ogbo until his appointment as the Acting Rector was a senior lecturer and Head of Political Science Department. His innovative ideas paid off at the Kogi State University, one of such was the introduction of electronic system of examination, which cut a lot of excesses on the part of students, lecturers and speed up result processing that ordinarily would have taken time for the institution’s huge number of students.
If you are a familiar visitor to the Kogi State Polytechnic , you will agree with me that there have been significant changes. Right from the entrance, it now wears a new magnificent academic structural look – credit to the School of Art, Design and Printing, headed by the workaholic Dean in the person of Pedro Akande.
Staffers of the Institution now have a sense responsibility as members of an academic environment. Colleagues now wake to come to work even when offices are locked down.
Within his first 100 days in office, Dr Usman Ogbo networked and galvanized support from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). With the support he garnered, seven key projects – which includes : Offices, hostel accommodation and lecture theaters worth N953.9m have been approved for the institution and contract letters have been issued to deserving and qualified bidders for the projects to take off.
As at today, the landscape of Kogi State Polytechnic is very busy, dotted with one construction or renovation project or the other.
Upon the award of these projects, Ogbo personally went round to supervise project sites and warned contractors against shoddy works.
A major achievement was the construction of office complex for security department, which since inception of the institution has been using a rickety structure to run its affairs. The security office structure, supervised by the Department of Architecture of the school is massive. Someone referred to its as “more than a police station” .
A well grounded academic with love for infrastructures and human development, Usman Ogbo, in the first 50 days of his stewardship organized an ICT training on e-learning and e-teaching for its academic staff, so that academic activities of the school that was grounded due to the Covid 19 lockdown could commence in earnest. The feat did not allow students to miss the academic year while sitting at home. They were able to take their lectures on the e-learning platform.
A key policy the Acting Rector introduced on assumption of office is “operation publish continuous assessment on notice board before exams.” Lecturers are to post continuous assessment results on their notice boards prior to examination and hand a copy to the heads of departments , so students can know their grades ahead. This method would help in protecting and curbing the excesses of students and lecturers from ambiguous scoring and other related exams and result issues that are common in our institutions.
Based on his 100 days achievements Dr. Usman Ogbo was described by a certain analyst sometimes ago as another Matthew Ajibero – the father of modern day Kogi State Polytechnic. This description cannot be far from the truth. I am yet to see a rector in the history of Kogi State Polytechnic, who was able to achieve the lofty feat Ogbo has achieved within the space of 100 days in office.
He is not a man given to words alone, matches his words with corresponding actions and desire for positive results. With his track record of success from the Kogi State University, Anyigba and that of his Deputy, Dr Lamidi Kehinde in the polytechnic; the duo will take Kogi State Polytechnic to a glorious and enviable height that will make it a reference point for other polytechnics and higher institutions in Nigeria in the nearest future.
Williams Charles Oluwatoyin is a lecturer, Department of Industrial Design, Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja.