By Crusoe Osagie
Our attention has been drawn to the concerns raised over the ongoing revamp of the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, the latest being the worry expressed by Usifo Sebastian Ebhuomhan.
While Ebhuomhan’s faith in Governor Godwin Obaseki’s capacity to steer our collective destiny to prosperity is commendable, his analysis of the issues underlying the institute’s overhaul, merely scratched the surface.
To begin, after 18 months as governor of Edo State, most Edo people and residents in the state, who have kept steps with Obaseki’s style of governing, would attest to his inclination towards rigorous research, as the only basis for decision making, not emotions, no matter how compelling.
So far, all the decisions that have been implemented by the state government in the institute are the outcome of an investigative panel that was set up to dig deep into the affairs of the institute, after an unscheduled visit by the governor exposed the derelict state of the institute.
The Obaseki administration is not one to be swayed by emotion-laden chorus, no matter how amplified, more so, when the hard and cold facts show a dysfunctional institute where the government was paying lecturers who chose when to go to work, exploited students and did not bat an eyelid over the status of the students whose certificates suffered credibility crisis in the labour market and could not participate in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme for several years, not to add the fact that the staff of the institute outnumbered the students.
Governance, for Obaseki, is about taking tough decisions that will engender sustainable growth and development for the largest number of people possible.
Understandably, tough and reform-oriented decisions are not always popular in the short term but they recruit millions of followers when the gains start kicking in.
Edo youths deserve an institute of agriculture that can compete with its peers anywhere in the world, and parents who toil to send their children to educational institutions in the state, do not deserve anything less.
We will not accept anything short of the best standard obtainable in the industry and we will not run an agricultural institute that lacks the capacity to impact market-oriented knowledge and skills.
We will not take the familiar and easy route, though popular, but fraught with failure, in a matter that is as important as the future of our children.
Today, we are happy to report that the students of the institute currently undergoing internship in world class agricultural companies across the state are for the first time, enjoying quality hands-on field training that will clearly put them ahead of their peers in the labour market, on graduation.
Mr Ebhuomhan also expressed fears over Governor Obaseki’s commitment to create 200,000 jobs, which the governor promised Edo people.
Ebhuomhan need not worry, we will exceed the 200,000 jobs target. For clarification, our strategy for creating these jobs includes creating the enabling environment for industries and private companies to thrive in the state and create decent direct and indirect jobs and as at today, thousands of such jobs have been created. By the time we roll out our statistics of jobs, much of these quibbling will be silenced.
If Mr. Evbhuomhan has been following global trends on job creation, he would appreciate the efforts of Governor Obaseki to reposition the respective government agencies that are supervising the influx of companies into Edo State.
While the state government will employ new staff into the civil service, as is now being done with the recent vacancy advertisements by the Civil Service Commission, published in the VANGUARD Newspaper, page 8; OBSERVER Newspaper, page 19, NATION Newspaper page 32 on May 15th this year, most of the jobs will be created by the private companies.
As you may be aware, construction has commenced in the 1800 Emotan Garden estate on Upper Sokponba Road in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area.
The first phase of the project is expected to be delivered in 12 months and already, the governor has secured a deal with steel and ceramic manufacturing companies in the state to supply their products to the developers of the estate.
The implication of this deal is that the steel and ceramic companies have a ready market of 1800 housing units to produce for. To achieve this, the companies will increase their operational scale by employing more people to be able to produce and meet market demand. This sort of development chain reaction is what Obaseki is about.
Meanwhile, that is just one of the many job creation strategies of the Obaseki administration. It is not politics, it is measurable and can be verified by anyone.
If there is anything the governor has in sufficient proportion, it is the capacity to frugally allocate scarce resources for the best outcomes possible. This cannot be controverted and has never been in dispute.
This capacity is today manifest in all spheres of our life in Edo, and has been re-echoed by World Bank experts, development actors and informed opinion and thought leaders in the education sector.
As part of the ongoing restructuring of the Agric college, a new curriculum as well as new faculties have been developed by the state government, an exercise that was carried out by over 10 professors drawn from various tertiary institutions in the country, with expertise in curriculum development.
The new international standard curriculum for the College is in compliance with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE)’s provisions for curriculum. This will qualify the restructured college’s programmes for accreditation.
Structurally, the college has been redesigned as a multi- campus institution with campuses spread across the three Senatorial Districts of the state, with the main campus in Iguoriakhi. Construction work is set to commence.
The New College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, will give students and parents real value for their money with its new Information Technology-based curriculum and a rich educational resource center that will be linked to the world.
Crusoe Osagie is the Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy