By Ikechukwu Odu
The newly appointed Vice Chancellor of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, Prof. Aloysius-Michaels Okolie, on Friday, pledged to restore the basic values of scholarship and research in the institution.
The Vice Chancellor while addressing newsmen at the ESUT Business School in Enugu metropolis equally said that he would regularise salary payment for the staff of the institution to motivate them for optimum service delivery.
While saying that arm-chair administration is the bane of university system, he pledged to collaborate with national and international investors through Build-Operate and Transfer, BOT arrangement to give facelift to the deficient infrastructure in the university, adding that no university succeeds without injecting funds from outside.
The don, a Professor of Political Science, also said that he would sign-off the backlog of certificates and regularise annual convocation in the university.
The Vice Chancellor also said that he would harvest the entrepreneurial skills of the students by exposing them to firms and industries through public-private-partnerships.
“The first vision I have for ESUT is to restore the basic values of scholarship and research and to turn the minds of the academia, including the non-teaching staff into believing in themselves and getting the internally orientation arising from reflection. I will make them to believe that they are cut out to perform specific functions which has to do with promoting teaching ,research, collaboration and networking between groups, trans-groups and inter-groups with a view of extending frontiers of knowledge and building a very virile community of scholars in ESUT.
While talking about the challenges he met at ESUT, he said “I met some staff that are not motivated based on the fact that the remuneration and what we call wage payment has not been regular. Staff that you pay salary today and they are not sure of tomorrow, and staff that are not challenged into becoming internally competitive with a view to testing what they know in the community of other scholars.
“Another major challenge I met was that of leakages. The major challenge I discovered was not about funding but what we do with the minimal fund we are having. There are leakages from the area of collection of revenue, especially fees, and the area of managing the fees. Even areas of contracting projects and ensuring that the certificates are not desecrated. Areas of building transcripts and internal financial management are not devoid of these leakages. These areas within the sector have been so demanding. Another challenge is that most directorate are being run not to synergize with the central administrative system. Some of them are run as if they are autonomous and anything generated is not properly being accounted for. There are very weak linkages between the directorates and the central administration.
“I was so dissatisfied with most of the completed and on going projects. Some of them were compromised,” he explained.
While talking of how to grapple with the challenges on ground, Prof. Okolie said he would start by regularising salary payment.
“The first thing I want to tackle is to regularise salary payment. Salary payment is a right, not an obligation. Promotion is equally a right, not a privilege. Most of the allowances are the rights of the staff and I want people to see it as such. So, I want people to assist me in generating the needed seed money so that I can regularise salary payment. Of course, on a moral ground, there are certain things I find very difficult to implement such as suspension of staff and enforcement of strict attendance to activities in the institution. This is because I am owing them. If I get over this, I will move into the next level, which is upgrade of critical infrastructure.
“I have started tackling the electricity crisis in the main campus and I hope to stabilize power there. Already, we have made an appeal to the Minister of Power through a letter to His Excellency, Senator Ken Nnamani to have a drop down of 750KVA of power in ESUT. The letter had gone out and His Excellency is graciously helping us. After that, we would tackle the issue of boreholes because when power is stabilized, we can then critically tackle the issues affecting our boreholes.
“I have began consultations and engagements with staff. I have met with the Senate, congregation, HoDs, Deans and Directors on conscientization. We are trying to conscientize people to go back to what we are known for which is “Technology for Service.” The technology has now expanded to the level of human ingenuity which we now classify as technology for service. By the grace of God, I will be bringing something new to the University that will make the staff understand that they are really competitive and that they have the quality. Clean Foundation has accepted to collaborate with ESUT, Olu Aka, approved by the Federal Ministry of Education on skills acquisition and development is working with our University. I want to move SIWES staff to that place. Our students will no longer be looking for where to go for industrial attachment.
“Clean Foundation will help to build capacity on staff training and ICT. I will add value to our ICT Unit to become more competitive so that we would have more capacity for engagements. With that engagements, the webometric ranking of the University will move up. I inherited an extremely low webometric ranking in this University. We want to move from here to become the best ranked state university in terms of webometrics. We are committed to that and I have already given out my plan of action towards achieving that.
“A lot of staff training would be done. I will organise retreats tell people that as a leader, I am ready to lead by example and get them convinced to follow me. To lead by example is to increase my technical capacity of transparency, good conscience and of somebody who is not coming from a clannish background but an academic background. I am ready to build other collosus of academia that would help to drive the course to the direction we want,” he explained.