By Collins Opurozor
Chief Rochas Okorocha built a university in his village, Ogboko, using state authority and state funds. A year before he left office, he amended the law establishing the institution, and ceded to himself ninety percent ownership of the citadel of learning. Chief Hope Uzodinma has learnt very fast. He has started building a polytechnic in his village, Omuma, even when the existing tertiary institutions in Imo are sorely underfunded and terribly ignored. History always repeats itself in two ways: first as tragedy, second as farce.
What is really absurd about Uzodinma’s polytechnic in his village is that the foul play, the sleaze, the miasma and the sinister intentions behind the whole thing are well-known from the start.
To begin with, Imo State Government is not building any new polytechnic in Omuma for the people of the State. Imo is not a banana republic; it is governed by laws. The two appropriation bills assented to by Uzodinma in no way provided for the funding of a polytechnic project in his village. Who then is building the structures in Omuma and where does the funding come from?
The reality is that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), in keeping with its mandate of providing supplementary support to public tertiary institutions particularly by using funding alongside project management for the rehabilitation of tertiary education in Nigeria, duly intervened in the Imo State Polytechnic located in Umuagwo and brought some projects there. In connivance with some actors within the management of the Polytechnic, the regime in Imo diverted the projects, which as conceived were supposed to be world-class structures, and then split them into many bungalows and took them to Uzodinma’s village, Omuma. It is the height of corruption to deploy state power to clandestinely split and divert Federal Government’s projects to Uzodinma’s village, especially when it is now common knowledge that the projects may end up as personal assets.
So, while TETFUND is doing a project, Uzodinma is taking the credit, and he is at the same time scheming to convert it to personal use. In order to make his dream of owning a viable private tertiary institution come to fruition, Uzodinma has supervised the decay of Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo. Salaries are not being paid, subventions to the institution do not come, and no single project has been done there. Now, the intervention from Federal Government has been diverted. The other campus of the Polytechnic, which is in Orlu, can better be described as an insult to education and a mockery to learning. This is preposterous!
It is interesting to see a fit semblance between an Okorocha who built a second state-owned university in his village but ended up privatizing it, with tuition fee as high as half a million, and an Uzodinma who is using state authority to divert Federal projects and build for himself a polytechnic in his village. Why always Imo State?
There are many things Imo people are up against in Uzodinma, and clannishness, corruption, parochialism and cronyism are just a few of them. Uzodinma should immediately explain to Imo people what has happened to the TETFUND projects, which were attracted to upgrade the physical infrastructure and pedagogical tools in Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo.