Ugly days at the Institute of Management Technology, IMT, Enugu are summarily over. The days when lecturers smiled to the banks after sale of handouts; days when classrooms overflowed with students who slumped intermittently out of exhaustion, have gradually come to an end. A new dawn has dispelled the dark time, which climaxed with the federal governments’ withdrawal of the accreditation to operate as a polytechnic.
During the inglorious days, cabals held IMT hostage, with endless strike, sorting, missing scripts, sex for mark scandals, among other vices. The downsizing of the institution was the last straw that broke the camel’s back when 35,312 students in 2011 was cut down to 7080 due to inadequate facilities.
The result was that lots of young adults from the South East leaving the secondary school system had their opportunities of gaining admission into tertiary institutions reduced. Also thousands of these students, who were willing to choose IMT were affected.
But a new management led by the Rector, Prof Mike Iloeje, took up the task of rebuilding the ‘new IMT’. The Rector explained the need for expanding the carrying capacity of the polytechnic, saying: “There is also the financial consideration that our IGR of 7000 cannot carry anything; so we also got approval from the NBTE that as long as we can expand our physical resource based we will be allowed to also expand our student population. So the impetus was left on us to aggressively improve our physical facilities.
“So we decided to provide more classrooms, equip more laboratories, equip our libraries, have a modern ICT Centre, better teaching and learning environment; and we also strengthened our admission processes to ensure that only qualified students were offered admission here. These were in keeping with NBTE guidelines and when they came on resource inspection they were able to approve increases in our student population. So from the 7000 we increased in the first year to 9000; currently we are 11,028 students; and hoping that with all the massive infrastructural development we have on ground, in the 2015/16 academic year we should be able to hit 15,000 without incurring the anger of NBTE.
“Our projection is that for the 2015 we should target 15, 000 students; for the 2016/2017 I am targeting 20,000. So it will continue to grow as long as we continue to expand our resource base. For example in the 2015/16 academic year I am going to have about 3,200 additional sitting space; we are getting classroom blocks of 400 sitting capacity each for School of Financial studies, school of Arts and Design, school of Environmental Design. We are also increasing capacities for School of Engineering, the building is almost completed and will have additional 800 students; then the school of Technology an additional 800. And our library will be in use in the next two months.”
Sustenance Madu, an ND-11 student of Public Administration, IMT, testified to the ongoing transformation in the institution when he told our reporter that IMT is becoming a school of first choice.
Also, Comrade Cletus Agbowo, Chairman, Non Academic Staff of Union (NASU), IMT branch expressed satisfaction with the work being done by the IMT management. “The present management has done well to ameliorate the problems of IMT. If you go down to Campus 3, you will see a lot of structures. The management has put a lot of structures on ground, we commissioned a new auditorium that can carry about 800 students recently. With the pace of development by the management, give IMT two more years and they can pay salaries from IGR even if government did not provide subvention for two to three months. So in terms of structure and development one can comfortably say that we have a new IMT. The only problem is the salary being owed workers.”
Prof. Iloeje noted that before he assumed office, the state government was giving the institution N20m as subvention at a time when student population was 35,000. Since the IGR was high, there was nothing to worry about. But when student population tumbled down to 7000, things became difficult.
“I presented the facts and figures on the basis of which the government then approved an increase of our monthly subvention to N120m monthly. Now, my current salary wage bill is N160m a month; so what we do is that when we get the government subvention, we go to our IGR and bring N40m and discharge salaries. This has been working for IMT and as a rule, salaries are paid on or before 25th of every month.
“This continued until February this year. Due to the dwindling price of oil, the national revenue nose-dived and the allocation to states dropped to abysmal levels. That affected all states including Enugu State and also affected the capacity of the state governments to shoulder their responsibilities. So we didn’t get any subvention for the month of February and because of that we couldn’t discharge the wage bill and that happened for about five months. But I am happy to tell you that the current governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has released money for the month of July and when we got that N120m, the next day we made it up and paid salaries. We want to thank the governor for coming to our assistance and we appreciate the efforts he is making and we are very happy with him even though we are owed arrears of four months. We know that the state has not yet received the bailout that Nigerians are clamouring for and we know that when received, he will remember IMT. And for the staff it was quite surprising that the staff here worked for five months without salary yet they didn’t go on strike. It shows the tremendous confidence they have in this administration and the honesty with which all of us have treated our staff, particularly on issues concerning their welfare and salary. So, as long as we keep getting our subvention, we will continue to pay salaries as at when due”.
Iloeje said paucity of fund has remained the major challenge, as the institution has not been able to access any capital grant from the state government.
“Since 2011 that I have been here, we have been able to harvest money exclusively from the federal level. We have been getting TETFund grant for normal intervention, we have been getting money for library development, research grants, and we have been getting money for manuscript publications, among others. We have not received any capital grant from the state government. The only capital intervention we had here was our internal road which the last administration awarded the contract and they started work on it but the work has stalled for the past four to five months now”, he said.
Undeterred by this challenge, Iloeje said the polytechnic wears a new face, with several ongoing projects at various stages of completion.
“So for 2015/16, we have advertized so many of our programmes hoping it will help us harvest people for our non NBTE based programmes but for NBTE based, we are targeting 15,000. That will have a tremendous boost to our IGR; our school fees are pegged at N49, 000 for continuing students and N65, 000 for first year students. We wouldn’t want to increase school fees because 68% percent of students in IMT are self-funding; they pay the fees themselves by working. Our students are from poor rural background. It’s not like universities where you find students owning cars and living in luxury. Our students here are actually poor and they are slaving and working hard to pay their fees. So, increasing school fees will affect people who would have come here but will no longer be able to. So, we maintain our school fees and increase the number of students to boost our IGR.
“We wish we can get more funds because the entire subvention we get is solely for paying salaries; we need more funding for physical development from the state government. I am also aggressively harvesting funds from other sources; Sure-P for example has equipped many of our labs in the School of Engineering.
“We are also looking for funds from professional bodies for instance, The Nigeria Institute of Insurance gave us N24m grant for development of library facilities in that department, development of ICT facilities and for training of staff.
“I will like it if the state government has the funds to erect two new students hostels it will help us get more students also”, he said. (Daily Sun)