It’s high time we cleared the air on the issues of disparagement and apathy that our various polytechnics are battling with, in the country over the years. Perhaps, we have forgotten what led to their existence. For reminiscence, prior to independence in the 1960s, there were no technical institutes in the country that will train people a technical education with the exception of Yaba Higher College established in 1932 by the colonial masters with the mandate to provide training of professional characters with great attention devoted to practical and manipulate skill in the areas of engineering, medicine, survey, forestry, teacher training, commercial studies. The major objective of the college was to provide instructions and training in technology. After that, in 1979, the Federal military government established seven Federal polytechnics with the mandate to produce “middle-level manpower” that encoded phrase which is yet to be interpreted by no one.(Oduwobi, 2006) cited in (Sanni M.R. ___ journal of African research review). The Act that established polytechnics in Nigeria foresaw the need for necessary skills in manpower, to cater for development in technology which is useful in Commerce, Industry, Banking, Aviation, Communication and most importantly, to remain relevant to the contemporary idiosyncratic___otherwise, digital age.
However, John Ruskin must have had polytechnic in mind when he said, ” when love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece ” the ability to reason the vivacity of polytechnic in Nigerian Society is devoid. The Nigerian government and the stakeholders failed to grasp the onus responsibility of it, which is solely to shine in the angle of practicability. Thus, molding it up with that of universities that are destined to marshal theorism. Polytechnic comes to be oxygen in the particle for a country lagging behind in the area of technological advancement which is the only available option to select for its invigoration. It would be a redundancy to reiterate that, the current unemployment crisis buffeting the graduate in this country can be expunged through a necessary skill in manpower (hand on skill) and this loophole has already been filled through her advocacy.
Actually, all these brouhahas is a mad man chasing nothing, since the imperativeness of polytechnics has been undermined and devalued by the government, individuals in the society most especially, the labour market. Its stigmatism on the HND holders and its preference for only the degree holders does not help the matter.
It’s not restricted to the labour market alone, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB ) also play part in this nasty situation in the sense that, it has not been fair to polytechnics when it comes to the declaration of cut-off mark contrast it with that of the Universities, an institution that has its own Autonomy, its status with that of universities has already been stifled to flame out its luminous star. Thus, no candidate ever deliberately pray to go to polytechnic except Willy-nilly as a result of his or her score in the JAMB examination. These imbalances should be responsible to raise an alarm to the government and the stakeholders from slumber to urgently review the Act that established her if they don’t want her quick extinction.
Sequel to a bill sponsored by a senator from Lagos west, two full weeks ago, which seeks to convert the Federal Polytechnic of Ilaro to a University of technology ___which reads ” A bill Act to provide the establishment of Federal University of technology Ilaro and matter connected therewith “. Let’s ask, what is the reason behind such an egregious bill, is it for fame or kudos? Perhaps, the implication behind such wretched suggestion/motion is yet to clear right? but with certitude, the offshoot of such action will add more pain to the fetid wound of the country’s University Education. Have the already existing Universities gotten sufficient funds from the government since the advent of democracy in 1999? Which according to research has dropped mercilessly from 11.12 percent to 1.81 percent. It is in this view we say, upgrading of the government own polytechnics to University will not only intensify government burden in the aspect of funding but also annihilate the polytechnics’ existence and also rendered them useless because the higher number of universities in the country is quite an evident to this claim and such has drastically reduced the number of candidates enrolment to the polytechnic and over-populate the university not only that inimicality but also jettison effective lecturing and learning of both lecturers and students. Although the issue of converting Polytechnic to University is not happening in Nigeria alone, it has risen in some part of Africa especially, in southern Africa and Ghana and some other part in Europe and Asia but, we should understand that in the Nigerian environment the situation and condition to make such worked is quite distinct from the neighbouring countries of the world.
Jimoh Abdullahi is a campus Journalist, University of Ilorin chapter.