We Should Provide Enabling Environment For Okowa To Succeed —Ejakpovi

DR. Nelson Ejakpovi a trained Pharmacist, is the Chairman,
Governing Council, Delta State School of Health
Technology, Ofuoma-Ughelli. He recently granted
an interview to our Government House Correspondent,
FIDELIS EGUGBO where he talked about the two years
administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State
and what is going on at the institution he is at the helm
of affairs. He described the school as the cheapest in the
country and one of the best places to acquire knowledge
for the health sector. Excerpts:
Governor IfeanyiOkowa has done two years of his
four-year tenure as the Governor of Delta State. How
do you rate his performance so far?
Going by the prevailing circumstances in the country,
especially with the country in recession, I will score the
Governor 80 per cent. The Governor has done a lot in
human capital development. Human capital development
is the foundation for a people if we must grow. He
started very well with the empowerment programmes and
from there our youths are empowered to be employers
of labour. He has also done very well in the provision of
infrastructure, especially, road construction. These have
ensured that the youths are engaged which, in a way, he
has used to tackle security challenges because, you know,
if they are not engaged, the security of you and I will be
jeopardized.
In the area of education, we are very proud of him. We
are very proud of him, because, he has not only appointed
the right people to help him pilot the affairs of these institutions
but he has got government to also look at areas
where there are challenges to see that the institutions
get to the level where they can compete favourably with
the best in any part of the world. You can see that our
technical schools that were dilapidated or abandoned
have been brought back to life, they have been brought
back to fantastic states and the standards and equipment
put in those schools are very high because, we must move
beyond paper qualifications to acquiring skills. We can
only build the nation when we have people with skills;
so, sincerely, apart from all of that, the Polytechnics, the
universities, even the secondary and primary schools,
are wearing new looks and government’s presence is
being felt.
Talking about education, as the Chairman, Governing
Council, Delta State School of Health Technology,
Ofuoma, a position which you have held for more than
one year, has the state government done anything in
that institution?
Yes! Governor Okowa’s administration has made a lot of
impact. Don’t forget the fact that School of Health Technology
is very special to Senator Okowa because, actually, he
was the person that raised the standard of that institution
when he was the Commissioner for Health. He made that
school what it is today and coincidentally, I was the Chairman,
Governing Council of the institution then. When we
got there, there was no enabling law for the school. It was
more or less like a primary school, not to say a secondary
school, then; I remember I went back to him and told
him of my challenges and I told him that school does not
deserve to have a board, what will I be doing there? And
he said, ‘oh Nelson, let us build it if you think there is a
problem.’ We catalogued what was needed in the school
and he (Governor Okowa as the Commissioner for Health)
took everything to the Governor then, Chief James Onanefe
Ibori; I tell you, what you see in that school today was
where we stopped in 2007. Coming back in 2016, it was
so surprising that no value was added; so, we were faced
with another huge challenge just like in 2003 and, as God
will have it, Senator Okowa is now the Governor. It was
surprising to note that nearly all the courses offered in
to His Excellency, the Governor, Senator Dr. IfeanyiOkowa
and he asked us what it will take for the courses to be
accredited. We put together the equipment that were
required, the study aids and they came to about N47 million
which we took to him for approval. It required speed
because, we had barely four months for the team from
the National Board for Technical Education (NABTEB) to
visit the school. They were coming this time to reassess
the school and when we informed the Governor, he took
actions and money was released for us to equip the school
for the accreditation. If you go back to the school today,
you will discover that most of the equipment that are
needed have been provided, We also found out that the
NABTEB has as basic requirement, too, for the courses to
be accredited, the need for an E-Library. That was in line
,too, with my ambition because, when I was the Chairman
during the tenure of Governor James Onanefe Ibori, the
sale of handout in the school was proscribed because, I
saw them as just repetition of obsolete ideas. Science is on
the move and very dynamic. I happen to be in the medical
field and we know that every day there is a break through
with research; so, we took it as a challenge and knowing
that NABTEB also has it as a requirement for accreditation,
although costly and it was not part of what we sent
to government for approval, we had to look inward and to
the glory of God, today, the school is the only institution in
the state that has a full fledged functional E-Library with
near 50 computers.
Since government did not release money for such
project, how were you able to fund it?
You know we also have some goodwillsout there. I happen
to know a friend who is into computer business, into
ICT and the school raised some of the money and he agreed
to set it up and he gave us time to gradually pay back. I am
glad to tell you today that we have almost finished paying
through our little internally- generated revenue.
We learnt there were challenges in the school as a
result of increase in school fees?
Governor IfeanyiOkowa’s administration is out to add
value to Delta State. Some of our children are in different
schools and that tells you the importance of education
and health sector is one very vital sector
of human endeavour that we must not
take for granted. These individuals that
we are churning out of School of Health
Technology are going to be in charge of
people’s lives tomorrow. Given today’s
economic reality, we looked at what
was on ground and what the students
were paying which was N20, 000 per
sessionand agreed that it was unrealistic
because, this N20, 000 if I may
spell it out for you, is not necessarily
for the school; it includes examination
fees, development levy, sports, medical,
laboratory, entrepreneurship and
several others. We have computerized
everything in the school from the sales
of forms to the collection of results to
reduce malpractices; so, we had to have
a good computer department not only
to check all these things but to get the
students to be computer -literate in line
with 21st century ICT. If they are not in
tune with computer education, they will
not get the best in education to enable
them compete favourably in the labour
market and to be self -employed. Government
doesn’t have all the money to
set up what is needed for the students
to be properly equipped for future challenges;
so, we felt we could charge N35,
000 per session to enable us raise funds
in line with the economic situation of the country. What
they were paying was N20, 000 and what we asked them
to pay was N35, 000 for the year and for God’s sake, which
kindergarten school collects N20, 000 per term not to talk
about N20, 000 per session? The N35, 000 is per session
not per semester, so, it is less than N20, 000 per semester.
We are talking about developing manpower for the health
sector. To my surprise, there was an uproar that the fees
was too much and it really beats my imagination because,
even at N35, 000 per session, the institution still remains
the cheapest in the federation.
Did you discuss with the Students Union Government?
You see, we are the Governing Council. Our main business
is to formulate policies and give a direction that will
be useful and of importance to the moving forward of the
school. We discovered that there was a communication
gap which made the students to react. We called the students
to a meeting and, after our discussion, we pegged the
fees at N27, 000 per session. We have also resolved to be
meeting regularly with the students for them to be aware
of what we are doing which generally, is in their interest.
At present, we have full accreditation for the school and
we are working to see how to get approval for the number
of students to be increased. My dream for the institution
is to take it to the zenith; we are working for it to be full
fledged College of Health Sciences and Technology which
will help the school to have access to funds from different
sources. At present, we can’t access funds from different
sources because it is a monotechnic. The Council has just
sent a bill to His Excellency to repeal the existing one so
that the school can become a College because, making it
such will be a win-win situation for everybody. With the
bill, we will diversify; we will be given some business
courses to be offered in the school and we will have faculties
and open the institution as a research centre. On July
7, entrance examination for the institution will be held
and I can tell you that the situation is only getting better
in the institution.
Is there crisis between the Governing Council and
management the institution?
In every human endeavour, misunderstanding is bound
to occur at a certain stage in life. Today, the Council, Management
and students of the institution are in one accord
for us to achieve the best for the institution and humanity.
We are grateful to His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and
all those who contributing to the growth of the institution
for their efforts.
On a last note, what are your expectations from
Governor Okowa’s administration in the next two
years?
I hope our revenue improves because a lot is calling for
attention, despite all that the governor is doing. I hope our
brothers in the creeks will stop destroying pipelines so
that there will be more fund for him to execute projects.
Our roads need to fixed, he is passionate about education
and the future of any society is the level of education the
people acquire. I am confident that the Governor is prudent
in managing resources and we hope that all loopholes
will be plugged for us to get what is due us. The Governor
wants to work, he knows what to do; all that he needs is
fund, peaceful environment and our support for us to get
the school were on partial
accreditation and as such,
the population of students
in the school drastically
came down because, when
I left in 2007, we had about
4, 000 students. In short, it
was a school on the move,
but, coming back in 2016,
we met a population that
was less than 1, 700 students;
so, the question was,
‘what went wrong?’ We
went into fact-finding and
discovered a lot of things,
one of which was the fact
that most of the courses
lacked full accreditation
which we communicated