Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) is a conventional academic institution whose vision seeks to keep aflame the pursuit of Knowledge, Excellence and the spirit of enquiry. AKSU also offers opportunities for Learning and Leadership, Service and Self-actualization to all mankind, towards a Peaceful, Humane, Prosperous and just Society.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Excepts from Prof. Eno Ibanga speaks on Inspiration FM105.9

On Saturday, 27/08/2016, Prof. Eno Ibanga, the Vice-Chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University granted an interview to Mr. Charles Akpan of Inspiration FM105.9

Prof. Ibanga spoke on several issues bothering on the Educational sector, Research and so much more. In case you missed it, aksu360 gladly presents the transcript of the said interview. It makes for a long read, but promises to be enlightening, educating and refreshing. Please take-a-read:  

InspirationFM105.9:  What’s the impact of strike on the Educational sector?
Prof Eno Ibanga: ...It has prevented Lecturers from taking their leave, research leave and doing all sort of things. ...with the distortion of the calendar, we don’t have time for Lecturers to go on leave particularly and do other things that matter in the system

InspirationFM105.9:  What’s the effect of the new Jamb Admission Policy? ASUU at a point was not in agreement with it?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Well the new policy… as a matter of fact, it is not a new policy. It existed at the inception of screening after Jamb. What we do now… for instance in Akwa Ibom State University, we have finished the screening for the First choice. We invite the students (candidates), then we verify their credentials, make sure that the courses they have taken is in tandem with the course they want to read in the University, and make sure that they are the ones that actually did the exams, we cross check their photographs and other materials, and then interface and interact with them. Some of them we know... if this one is a University material or not without necessarily taking the examination again.

Before now, you discover that someone will have 300 in Jamb examination and when you ask him a simple question like what is the area of a triangle, he will say Length plus Breath, and will even have spelling problems. So instead of going into the writing, we are taking the oral aspect.

InspirationFM105.9:  What’s the import of PUTME screening fees?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Of course, it attracts an amount. You must get people to administer it, print exam questions, etc.

InspirationFM105.9:  Does the University have adequate funding and how does it affect the system?
Prof Eno Ibanga: No system can tell you that it has adequate funding. Even your radio station cannot say it gas adequate funding. But what we do as a system is to make do with what we have. We maximise the funding. As a state University, we are on subvention and as far as the state is concerned, they give us our subvention as and at when due.

InspirationFM105.9:  Akwa Ibom as a ‘baby’ University (barely 5 years old), how do you generate revenue, having in mind the dwindling economy?
Prof Eno Ibanga: What we are doing is running a University in a dwindling economy. The subvention mainly takes care of staff salaries and some part of over-head. We take school fees from the students, which is N53,000 per session. Whatever we cannot do with the subvention, we argument with the fees. But now we really have to tighten our belt. We have cut wastages everywhere. We go into programs (or funding programs) that are really essential for the system.

InspirationFM105.9:  Could ‘cutting wastages in the system’ be one of the reasons that people don’t like you?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Well…. In those days, in a department, 10 people will want to go to a given conference at the same time, but now we can say, instead of 10; 3 or 4 can do this year or instead of 10 of them all going at once, we divide them into 3 years. It is still training, but let’s prioritise. We take people at the professorial level, the middle level and the junior level. We go this time and next time, we send the next set.

As a matter of fact, all academics are entitled to conferences, workshops and so on and so forth. Even in programs, if you need 10 equipment, we will say, look the fund available can only go for 2, for now. Lets’ group the students into different groups and this group will come, use the equipment and go, the next comes… so it’s a matter of adjusting to the realities of the times.

InspirationFM105.9:  The school is barely 6years old and you have been there for about 1 year, what are the teething problems that you have experienced?
Prof Eno Ibanga: The teething problems are putting structures on ground. It’s a growing University. We are going into accreditation phase by phase. This year, in the next 2 months, we will be going into accreditation in the faculty of Arts and faculty of Education and this requires a lot of infrastructure.

For instance, we have the department of Mass Communication and we have to build a television studio, radio studio and news-room and other accessories. Our department of Theatre arts is going for accreditation, we are building a theatre for the University and that requires funds. We are going for English language accreditation, we will need to build a language lab, we will need equipment, computers and other accessories to make the lab functional. So those are the problems and so far, we are  using our IGR to move it forward, because we can’t fold our arms
File photo: Students of Akwa Ibom State University writing their semester examinations
InspirationFM105.9:  How do you generate the IGR?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Well…. It’s from the school fees. You see, you can’t diversify when you have not stabilised as a University, because before you do anything, you must have the University on ground first. You can’t say you want to add any other program and go into any other …consultancy and the rest, when the program is not sound on ground. So what we are doing now is to get the program sound on ground, get the lecturers, get the infrastructure and then we diversify further. But now, the main source of our IGR is the school fees that the students pay.

InspirationFM105.9:  Some people are blaming the academia for the current state of the economy. Do you agree to that?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Blame the academia? Well I don’t subscribe to that…. Any state of economy anywhere or state of activity anywhere depends on the leadership. You see this state now is going into industrialisation. We have a function, we have a direction and the driving force is the Governor of this state. I am the driving force of Akwa Ibom State University. We know what we want.

If you don’t have visionary leaders in certain quarters, things will go haywire. But when we have visionary leaders, we look for manpower to support the leadership, so I don’t think it’s the academia. The academia are always there, but you know when you leave the specialist and you take charlatans into an area, you will have breakdown. You can’t go and bring someone who has nothing to do with Engineering to come and head an Engineering corporation, what will he provide? Let’s put square pegs in square holes and we will get the right solution.

InspirationFM105.9:  What are you doing with the Faculty of Agriculture?
Prof Eno Ibanga: First of all, I must put it on record that faculty of agric was the former college of agric at Obio Akpa campus and we inherited that as part of the University system and immediately we went into position the faculty for accreditation. That was last year. The accreditation of the faculty of Agric came last year. We just got the result not long ago. All the programs of the faculty – Animal science, Soil science, Crop science, Agric econs and extension – they all have full accreditation and beyond that, we are going into commercial agriculture. We have just employed a farm Manager, who will look into the commercialisation of the agric.

You know the drive of the country now? We are all leaving the oil sector, into what was Nigeria was known for? Nigerian was initially was known for Agriculture – the pyramid of Kano, groundnut pyramid, cotton and oil palm. As a matter of fact, the faculty of Agric in Akwa Ibom State University has about 28 hectares of oil palm, 26 hectares of rubber and we have about 276 hectares of uncultivated land.

InspirationFM105.9: What do you do with all that land?
Prof Eno Ibanga: First of all, we are positioning the faculty. Now we are going into production. As we speak, we have started entering the rubber farm. We have started tapping the rubber and we are going in and in, so that at the end, that’s where the IGR will come in…… we are also going into the oil palm plantation. We are going to prune the ones that have over-stayed and then plant new seedlings and expand. Because that place was not a University initially, they didn’t have enough expertise to go into those areas, but now with the University taking over those facilities, we are developing that area …because at the end, we want to feed the state.

InspirationFM105.9: Feed the state? How possible is that?
Prof Eno Ibanga: It’s a 100% possible.  We are looking at tomatoes for instance, the committee has given me an interim report and I have given them a matching order that look, we shouldn't be looking at everything coming from the North, tomatoes coming from the north, what are we doing with our land? In the crop land, we have sank a borehole for irrigation, we have provided the basic things, within the reach of the University, to be able to move into real farming and I can assure you that definitely, we will get there.

InspirationFM105.9: So your students will focus more on Agriculture?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Yes. All the practical, all the students will go into the farm, because our focus here is not a degree
File photo: Engineering students of Akwa Ibom State University during a visit to Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC)
InspirationFM105.9: Professor, in this age and time, they will go into the farm? (laughter..)
Prof Eno Ibanga: Definitely! Why did you come to read agric? We have students in the faculty, so what do they want to show for their studies? Because it’s not a matter of getting a degree and looking for a white collar job. It’s getting a degree, going into the farm to produce, so that we can replicate, multiply and feed our people. I love the economy, because it is making people to reason and thing now.

InspirationFM105.9: You have had your first set of graduands. Is you school part of those churning out half-baked graduates?
Prof Eno Ibanga: In terms of quality, Akwa Ibom State University has one of the best set of quality staff.

InspirationFM105.9: More than the University of Uyo?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Am saying one of the best. We are not going any comparison, but what we do is, we do our Quality assurance, inward quality assurance, make sure we have the right calibre of staff, right spread of staff and then we get the staff committed and then we curb all the practises that we have been hearing …sorting, hand-out sales and so on. Those ones, we are really on top of the game.

InspirationFM105.9: The latest one now is course blocking
Prof Eno Ibanga: Well… am just hearing that one for the first time. Maybe I will be educated on that before I leave your studio. (laughter…)

InspirationFM105.9: How do you handle the issues of Lecturers taking advantage of the students?
Prof Eno Ibanga: We encourage students to report such cases.

InspirationFM105.9: How many have reported such cases since you started?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Since I started…. Well we have a counselling unit.

InspirationFM105.9: Does it really exist?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Yes, it exist. We have the counselling unit. Even though some of them don’t want the issues publicised because of stigmatisation, so they go into the counselling unit and are dealt with silently.

InspirationFM105.9: What about sales of hand-out?
Prof Eno Ibanga: That is totally banned. We don’t sale hand-out and even when you write a book, we have a committee on sale of books in the University that is headed by the Director of Academic Planning. Before you write a book and it’s acceptable in the University, you must be a senior lecturer and above. You will send you book to the committee; they will review it and see the acceptability and quality, before it is sent into the University for Students to buy. Some books that we get from sister universities, like the Physics writer series, we get their books into the University for students to buy and use.
Prof. Eno Ibanga speaking during the 2016 matriculation exercise
InspirationFM105.9: What are the criteria for employing a new staff?
Prof Eno Ibanga: We advertise... The department first will declare vacancies…. The department will say we have some Lecturers here, but we don’t have in this aspect. Then we collate the vacancies, we advertise. We call people for interview and at the end of the interview, those that are successful are appointed and as a matter of fact, His Excellency just gave approval for the appointment of 125 academic staff this year.

InspirationFM105.9: Really?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Oh sure.

InspirationFM105.9: But you had issues concerning employment recently?
Prof Eno Ibanga: No… those were people that were already on ground, but those issues… we are resolving them.

InspirationFM105.9: At what extent is the resolution now? Learnt the state Assembly intervened, right?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Yes the state Assembly…. Yes we have gone pass that level. Within the next… we had a deadline, between the Governing council, the University Management and the state Assembly and, we said before the first week of September….

InspirationFM105.9: How are you handling the issues of Accreditation across the 6 University faculties?
Prof Eno Ibanga: We have 38 departments, but so far, faculty of Science has been fully accredited, faculty of agric has been fully accredited, for the faculty of engineering: all the programmes are accredited – some full, some interim.

‘Interim’ means when they come, maybe you are short in library or facility or in staffing, they won’t give you ‘full’ until you rectify, but out of the 6 departments in Engineering, 3 are fully accredited and 3 have interim. Interim means in the next 2 years, they will come to look at the areas you were told to put in place, and then they clear you.

InspirationFM105.9: Do you have plans to expand?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Definitely! Government is already in the main…. Where we are using now as the University campus is a side campus.

InspirationFM105.9: Where is that sir?
Prof Eno Ibanga: It’s at Mkpat Enin. Ikot Akpaden. That’s the location of the permanent site, but we are not on the core of the permanent site.

InspirationFM105.9: So when are you moving?
Prof Eno Ibanga: So far, structures have been… the hostels have started at the permanent site. We have opened the road into the permanent site. Government is already working on that. We will bring the structure there and then we move, but the structures we have on ground now can contain the University, the way it is.
A cross-section of Senior Lecturers of  Akwa Ibom State University during the 2016 matriculation exercise
InspirationFM105.9: Really?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Yes! Because we have a carrying capacity. Each University has a number of students it should admit. When NUC comes to look at your facilities, they tell you, look, for Mass communication, don’t take more than 50, because that is the facility that is on ground for that 50. That is why we have been able to go through accreditations.

InspirationFM105.9: What’s the strength now? Do you have up 5,000 students?
Prof Eno Ibanga: We have about 5,200 students

InspirationFM105.9: Do you have boarding…?
Prof Eno Ibanga: No we don’t ….. the hostels have not been concluded.

InspirationFM105.9:  A lot of people are not satisfied with the type of graduates we have? What are the factors responsible? Is the fault from lecturers or from the student?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Going down memory lane, when I was in secondary school, by the time I was finishing school, my class mates knew you was going to the University. Because they knew your capacity. But now, it is like compulsory for everybody to go to the University from Secondary….

The educational system had been such that, when you finish your JSS, the SSS is supposed to be Technical or Academic. But now the Technical aspect is gone. If you are looking for a Plumber, Electrician and all that - you can’t see, because everyone wants to be a graduate of a University. So the problem of quality of graduate we are having is ONE, the capacity of the students in the first instance, to even being an undergraduate and then, you can take it up from there.
InspirationFM105.9:  Hmmm…I have issues with your saying you have to know which one is a University material?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Definitely! Its not everybody that goes to secondary school that should be in the University, because you must have certain information available to you, which translates to your scores and capacity before you go into the University setup. The University is an intellectual area and not an all-comers affair.
InspirationFM105.9:  If you should have assistance, be it from Government or any foreign donor, which area will come first?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Engineering!

InspirationFM105.9:  Why?
Prof Eno Ibanga: Because Engineering drives industrialisation and even farming. Even the infrastructure, the tools that you are going to use for all development? They are engineering tools, so if you don’t develop it, you don’t have infrastructure, nothing can go further

InspirationFM105.9:  Thank you so much Prof. Eno Ibanga for coming around

A copy of the above can also be found on www.aksu.edu.ng

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