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The new gate of FCET permanent site

The story of Umunze, a bustling community in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State, will not be complete without the success story of the community’s shining light, the Federal College of Education, Technical. 

In the first years following its establishment, it had been seen as just another of such colleges. Tucked away in its temporary site along the Umunze/Isuochi road, it held no allure for admission seeking candidates who preferred other institutions.

But all that was to change in 2010 with the coming of a certain Josephat Ogbuagu, MNI, a professor of Industrial Chemistry. Today, close to four years after taking over the affairs of the college, FCET, Umunze has become the college of choice, thanks to the many innovative developments initiated by the amiable professor who has described the college as a pace setter

According to Emeka Onwudinjo of the public relations unit of the institution, the provost, who will complete his tenure next year, described the college as a pace setter in teacher education in Nigeria founded on the philosophy that sees a teacher as the hub on which the educational system rotates; the key that unlocks the door to knowledge and the pivot of all education systems which prepare members of society for survival, self-reliance and national development.

Still according to Onwudinjo, the success story of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, has led stakeholders to believe the institution has become the best teacher training technical college in the country.

‘The college was established specifically for the training of science, technical, as well as vocational teachers, but it has progressively grown to become a degree-awarding institution, in affiliation with Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka,’ said Onwudinjo. 

He continues, ‘Ogbuagu has run the institution with utmost prudence and efficiency and enhanced the integrity of the NCE and Degree certificates awarded by the college. His visionary leadership brought rapid transformation in the college, developing it to an enviable standard through the provision of infrastructure, spacious lecture and administrative blocks, and introduction of more courses for the students.

‘Ogbuagu was appointed at a time the college was facing challenges in infrastructure and in getting accreditation for its academic programmes. Its workers were also not motivated, given their meagre salaries,’ Onwudinjo recalled.

But through his vision and prudent management of scarce resources, the Ogbuagu administration embarked on aggressive developmental projects in the institution as well as manpower development for both students and staff.

Today the college which is affiliated to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and whose student population has swollen as a result of its degree awarding status, can boast of fourteen degree courses and such structures as the new administrative building at the permanent site of the college, ultra-modern auditorium, multi-media micro teaching laboratory, digital library complex, academic staff office, ICT revolution, model home residence and renovation of the Emma Uguru Lecture Hall, among others.

The college has also moved to her permanent site, while the temporary site still remains very much a part of the college with some departments which include the Fine and Applied Arts.

 

The entirety of the college’s vast permanent site has also been walled to ensure maximum security, just as the site now boasts of a gigantic gate that has immediately made a bold statement as to the college’s readiness to rub shoulders with the very best.

The management led by Ogbuagu has done all this without take-off grant from the federal government.

What then is the magic wand employed by Ogbuagu to achieve all this? This is what he said: ‘Precisely what we do is to manage what we have very well to make sure we deliver properly. We want to come up. We want to have facilities. So, we try to manage whatever is given to us very well to achieve good results. In the first place, we had to fence the college to occupy the permanent site because of communal problems and land issues. We had to put up the gate like someone entering in his house and feeling structured, then we put up the structures, the fencing and those other buildings started coming up.’

Ogbuagu believes that rather than depend so much on government that has a statutory allocation to give, people should come and assist.

‘People out there who have the capacity to do so should do so; people that can come to the institution and put up buildings in the names of their parents or even mentors. For instance, you can have Atupulazi Building or Amunike Building. The essence will be for such people to come and develop this place. At the end of the day, it’s people around that make use of the structures. It’s very important. The alumni, the community, people from the state, everybody which particularly points to the good people of our great country, Nigeria.’ 

He disclosed that the problem with the indigenous population over land had been settled as compensation was eventually paid. This is even as he said that the college’s zero tolerance for cultism had ensured that nothing like cultism existed in the college.

On the vexatious issue of sorting which is a situation where lecturers exploit students for marks and force them to buy their books, the provost said there was also no such thing there.

‘We don’t have such things here. Our books are sold at the college bookshop. Our lecturers don’t sell books to students,’ he stated.

The provost’s feats have not gone unnoticed though by his students who have nicknamed him the digital provost. The leadership of the Students Union Government (SUG), led by Comrade Augustine Okoye, commended the provost for his visionary leadership and his resilient spirit, which according to him, enabled him to overcome frustrations that were meant to distract him at the initial stage of his administration. He further lauded Ogbuagu’s administrative prudence, as well as his transformation of the institution through massive infrastructural development.

Every good thing must come to an end and sometime next year, Prof Ogbuagu will be taking his leave. What will he like to be remembered for?

‘Well, I want to be remembered for the things I’ve done so far. Putting up structures, employing high calibre staff, building the capacity of the staff and students and maintaining a good relationship with the community,’ he said.

But the prayer and hope all around the college is that someone as deeply committed and focused as Prof Ogbuagu emerges to take over the baton. Fides understands that the staff and students of the college, if they had the powers, would prefer a home grown successor who will understand the college and hit the ground running. But it is only a hope. The power resides with the federal government which owns the college.

However that hope is testament to the family bond that one immediately sees pervading the college’s atmosphere. This, Ogbuagu puts down to his philosophy of carrying everyone along for best results and a burning desire to make a better society.

A devoted Catholic, Ogbuagu is happily married with children.


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