One key sector in which the administration of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State is determined to address is the bad shape of the state-owned tertiary institutions in the state. GOLOK NANMWA tells us how the state government intends to go about it
The present administration in Plateau State has acknowledged the fact that for it to actualise its socio-economic plans for the state, there is a need to invest in manpower development. It therefore turned its attention to the tertiary institutions in the state and found that the conditions of the schools were in bad shape and unless something drastic is done about it.
It is in this line that the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, recently vowed to improve educational standard in the state. He particularly said that the state government would work harder towards improving the state university. Lalong stated this recently while speaking at the 2015 graduation ceremony of Saint Lois College, Jos.
He said the myriad of problems he inherited from the Jonah Jang administration was enormous. Lalong however expressed optimism that his administration is committed to reviving the economic fortunes of the state, despite inheriting a huge debt profile and a near empty treasury. He stressed that his plan is to improve on the quality of education in the state and make a difference in the state by providing developmental strides in order to correct the wrongs committed by his predecessor.
Our correspondent gathered that Lalong administration may have finalised plans to reinstate Professor Danjuma Sheni, the erstwhile vice chancellor of the Plateau State University now called Solomon Lar University Bokkos.
Professor Sheni who was a lecturer at the University of the North Limpopo in South Africa was appointed vice chancellor by former governor Jonah Jang in 2012, and was suspended by the governor on the 29th October 2014 for what was termed inappropriate conduct.
Lalong also said that after payment of salaries, his next priority is security and education. According to him, his government would be a completely different from the past administration in terms of policies and programmes, as well as their implementations. He however stressed that there was a need to consider a possible reversal of some questionable policies and decision which were taken by the past administration.
Already, the administration has stated working things out in this direction. The governor has recently ordered the immediate dissolution of the governing councils of all state-owned tertiary institutions in the state. In a press statement signed by the governor’s director of press, Mr Emmanuel Nanle, the governor listed the institutions to include Solomon Lar University, the state polytechnic, College of Agriculture, Garkawa; College of Education, Gindiri; College of Health Technology, Pankshin, and College of Health Technology, Zawan.
The statement added that the affected council chairmen and members are to hand over any government property in their possession to the heads of their respective institutions.
Lalong had earlier also dissolved all political appointments of the immediate past administration, which include appointments into boards of commissions, boards and parastatals. But appointments into tenured headship of statutory bodies stay until the expiration of their tenure.
Also Lalong has sympathized with some of the graduates of the state-owned university, who are not eligible for the award of degrees on the various courses they studied on account of non-accreditation of some of the courses by the National Universities Commission, NUC.
The governor, who took his case to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, recently, while on a courtesy visit to the agency, passionately appealed to the management to intervene and save the future of the students. He said his administration has taken steps to arrest the internal politics that brought the reputation of the university to its knees.
Briefing newsmen shortly after the meeting, Lalong said it became necessary to visit TETFUND to first commend them for all previous interventions in the state university in terms of structural and infrastructural development and to ask for more because of the precarious state of the institution at the moment.
“The problem of the university was compounded by internal politics. The management of the school is being changed every now and then. That affected a lot of things, including accreditation of courses. That is why I have dissolved the board of the university because we need to start on a clean slate and know where things went wrong.
“I was speaker of the State House of Assembly at the time the university was established in 2005 by former Governor Joshua Dariye now senator representing Plateau Central. So I am a part of the school. I know what to do”, he said.
He then pleaded with the agency to assist the three tertiary institutions owned by the state, the Plateau state Polytechnic Barkin Ladi and College of Education, Gindiri, explaining that they have been benefiting from the agency in the past. In response, TETFUND has agreed to examine the various issues brought to it by the governor and also promised to treat each of them on merit.
Speaking earlier in his welcome address, the executive secretary of the agency, Professor Suleiman Bogoro listed the various achievements by the agency since it was transformed from the Education Tax Fund, ETF, in 2011 and assured the governor of the agency readiness to assist in as much as what they requested for fell within its statutory mandate.