Citizens request FG to take over Yenagoa-Oporoma-Koluama Road project
Rector doing his best to change narrative — PRO
By Samuel Oyadongha
EKOWE—THE Federal Government brilliantly conceived and built the country’s first oil and gas polytechnic, the Federal Polytechnic at Ekowe riverine community in Bayelsa State, in 2009, but the citadel of learning cannot be accessed by road, making it impossible for parents/guardians to send their children/wards to the school.
Investigations by NDV showed that at the moment, the two means of coming to the polytechnic, located in the deep swamp of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, along the River Nun, are by air and waterways. While the first is highly expensive, the second is ominous for those not familiar with the riverine terrain.
Work on the polytechnic, an initiative of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, established under its Institutional Capacity Development, started in phases in 2007 and it took off in 2009 though formally handed over to the Federal Ministry of Education, last year.
Transformation of what used to be a marshy wetland, part of which housed the Government Science and Technical College, Ekowe, to a modern-day polytechnic was actually conceptualized during the Niger Delta Stakeholders meeting in 2006.
PTDF was mandated at the time to intervene in the establishment of educational institutions at Bonny, Rivers State, Ekowe in Bayelsa State, Okerenkoko and Oporoza in Delta State to ensure Nigerians take over the oil and gas sector.
Dickson’s intervention: The state government decided to undertake the Yenagoa-Oporoma-Koluama road in the Central senatorial district to link the area, but is currently constrained. The road project expected to terminate at the Atlantic shore of the district was stalled in the wake of the recession that rocked the nation’s economy and the attendant fall in the state allocation from the federation accounts.
Our findings revealed that the Governor Seriake Dickson administration awarded the contract to the Chinese Construction Company, which commenced and took the road to Igebiri community on the periphery of the Southern Ijaw council area before it moved out of site, following government’s inability to release funds for the project.
Bayelsans plead with FG
However, concerned Bayelsans, who spoke to NDV, urged the federal government to come to the aid of the state government by taking over the project in view of the huge capital outlay and state government’s enormous contribution to the federal coffers, and more importantly, to realize its aspiration of training the category of manpower that will take over the oil and gas sector.
The Yenagoa-Oporoma road, it was learned, had been on the federal government drawing board since the 60s, but nothing tangible was done.
Kachikwu’s pledge: NDV was informed that sometime in June, last year, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, promised to make a case for the development of access roads to the institution by the Federal Government in collaboration with the Bayelsa State government to ease transportation to the polytechnic. It was not known at the time of this report the progress made in this regard.
Institution bemoans lack of road, electricity: In spite of the challenges, it was gathered that the Rector, Dr. Timi Seiyaboh, had since his appointment as the second substantive rector, brought significant changes to bear on the institution.
The public relations officer of the institution, Pastor Fiebai Woyengikuro, told NDV, “The Rector, Dr. Timi Seiyaboh, is making concerted efforts to ensure that all the institution’s programmes are accredited.”
He, however, decried the absence of a road and electricity, major catalyst to socio-economic development, as major problem of the institution.
“If there was a roads, the polytechnic would have developed faster than where it is today. Though we have recorded increase in number of students’ admission, many parents who are not from this area do not want their children to go the riverine area because of the absence of roads.
“Electricity is also a problem for us; we are currently relying on a diesel powered generator which is a burden to the management given the high cost of conveying fuel to the hinterland by water. We are looking for ways of partnering with the multinationals operating in the council area to assist since the institution has not been connected to the national grid,” he asserted.
Seiyaboh’s footwork: It was gathered that officials of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) came calling, penultimate week, and marvelled at the facilities on ground as well as the commitment of the management team in turning around the fortunes of the institution.
Woyengikuro said: “The Rector has succeeded in getting TETFUND to sponsor the training of staff and rebranding of the institution.
Last month, he organized a town hall meeting where critical issues were discussed about the rebranding of the polytechnic. It was clearly stated at the meeting that it is not going to be business as usual because he is poised to reposition the polytechnic administratively and academically.