By Muhammad Mustapha
Education has been largely and globally defined as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. Education in a more plain language is the process of imparting all forms of knowledge, formal, non formal and or other forms.
This is the more reason why governments across the world strive to adequately fund education, at all levels . As it is always said and nay true , education is the best legacy to be bequeathed to the youths, the future leaders of the nations, including Nigeria and Sokoto State.
Doing otherwise certainly spells doom to the society .
There is a little wonder therefore that the three tiers of government in the country have been doing their possible best to do the needful by funding education, biz; basic, secondary and tertiary.
The happy story is not in anyway different in Sokoto State, especially from 2015 to date under the administration of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Mutwallen Sokoto.
Though education is on the concurrent list of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the incumbent administration has defied all odds and accords priority attention to education at all levels.
The Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto, is one of the tertiary educational institutions that have been enjoying adequate funding from the current administration.
As a starter, the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto was established by the Sokoto State Government vide law No.2 of 2002. It could be recalled that the former Sokoto State established a polytechnic at Birnin-Kebbi and Talata Mafara which were lost to present Kebbi and Zamfara States in 1991 and 1996 respectively.
Consequently, the government then, in its determination to uplift the standard of education in the state, merged the former Haliru Binji College of Arts and Science and Sani Abacha College of Administration and upgraded them to the status of a polytechnic (Polytechnic of Sokoto State) with Dr. Abubakar Umar Dikko, as the pioneer Rector of the institution and late Alhaji Abubakar Zaki as the first Chairman, Governing Council of the institution.
The Polytechnic took off in July, 2001 with five colleges and later developed into seven. It was renamed to Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto, in 2016.
These colleges are: College of Science and Technology (CST), College of Engineering (COE), College of Administrative and Business Studies (CABS), College of Arts and Humanities (CAH), College of General Studies (CGS), College of Environmental Studies (CES) and the College of Agriculture (COA).
The objectives of the Polytechnic include: To provide courses of study, training and research in engineering, science, technology, secretarial/business and preliminary studies for the purpose of technological and economic advancement of the state, as well as provide entry requirements into university and other institutions of higher learning.
Others are to offer courses of study at Certificates, National and Higher National Diploma, Polytechnic Diploma and other levels in Arts, Language, Science, Technology and other branches of learning with the ultimate purposes of service to the society and beyond, as well as provide, through teaching, research and other means, the advancement of knowledge and its practical application to the needs of the society and beyond, among others .
History was therefore recorded on Saturday, September 25, 2021, at the Polytechnic when it successfully conducted the second convocation ceremony sequel to the maiden one held in 2014. The epoch-making event yet again brought to the limelight the trail blazing achievements of the premier institution.
On that day, all roads led to the Polytechnic .
Addressing the graduands, the Visitor to the Polytechnic, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal happily noted that, the instution is actualizing the dream of its founding fathers.
According to him, it has, over the years, churned out professionals in various fields in science, technology, administration and even in the arts.
Tambuwal said: “Distinguished personalities, the naming of this institution, Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic is the idea of this administration, not only as a fitting immortalization of our revered and great leader, late Alhaji Umaru Ali Shinkafi (Marafan Sokoto), but also a very cogent move to have this citadel of learning in science and technology associated with him.
“I must say that, I am impressed by the performance of the management of the institution, as indicated by the reports I have been receiving and the report card presented by the Rector. You are, indeed, on course towards achieving the spirit and letter of our government’s declaration of a State of Emergency on Education,” said the governor.
Tambuwal further stated that, the state government has been doing whatever is necessary to ensure that the products of our institutions are well-groomed and are well-baked to compete with their counterparts, nationally and internationally.
“To this end, the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic and other tertiary institutions are being given the desired attention. To ensure a conducive teaching, learning and research atmosphere, a brand-new auditorium is being constructed in this polytechnic, following the fire incident that destroyed the old facility, while CONPCASS and CONTEDISS salary structures have been implemented for both academic and non-academic staff of higher institutions in the state.
“Let me, on behalf of the people of the Nigerian Federation, as distinct from the Federal Government, express appreciation to TETFUND for its enormous work in providing infrastructure at institutions of learning across the nation, including Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic.
“I must commend the Chairman of Council, management, staff and students of this school for carrying out hitch-free academic activities through the years. As a government that is concerned with the resuscitation of education at all levels, we will not spare any effort towards positioning this great institution on a high pedestal.
“In conclusion, I congratulate the polytechnic for this milestone event. For the graduating students, I enjoin you to make us proud, by being good ambassadors of your school and Sokoto State. You should employ your acquired knowledge and skills towards moving yourselves, your state and nation forward,” the governor averred.
The Chairman of the Council and former Deputy Governor in the state, Barr. Mukhtari Shagari, expressed delight that, the institution has received enormous support from the present administration.
“So, this is the time distinguished ladies and gentlemen, that I deem appropriate to express our sincere appreciation and to place our hope and expectation for even more support and assistance,” Shagari said.
He added: “I have kept close link with the management of this institution and I am happy to report that we have been able to achieve satisfactorily. Let me charge the management, staff and students of the Polytechnic that with all the facilities for learning at our disposal, we shall reciprocate the state government effort by striving hard to achieving more successes.
“Finally, I wish to congratulate all of you, the graduating students and wish you successes in your careers. I wish my distinguished guests and all the people present, a peaceful and successful celebration and safe return to your respective destinations after the ceremony.”
Also speaking at the event, the state Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Bashir Garba said: “His Excellency’s administration is a legacy well-articulated and is being achieved, as the education sector, despite the setting in of the economic recession and Covid-19 pandemic have been growing from strength to strength in all ramification.
“There is no doubt therefore that Ummaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic is one of the leading Polytechnics in the country and we attribute this success to the support and cooperation the institution is getting from the state government.
“We must appreciate the fact that government has many other commitments to attend to, thus, we commend the state governor for the attention and contribution so far in the development of the sector.
“However, I wish to call for more generous attention in favour of tertiary institutions in the state.”
The Rector of the Polytechnic, Prof. Aminu Alhaji Ibrahim said: “Today remains a wonderful day. It is a day that marks yet another breakthrough in the history of educational development in Sokoto State in particular and Nigeria in general.
“It is a day when great men and women of vision and mission come to observe and celebrate with us in the celebration of scholarship.
“Words cannot therefore, sufficiently express my joy and pride for being the one to have this rare opportunity of setting this time-making occasion.”
The erudite Professor continued: “Your Excellency, the Visitor, Sir, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, today is a special day and occasion when we rejoice our successes and achievements as an academic institution.
“I am indeed delighted by the increase in the number of our graduates year-by-year which tallies with the ever-increasing number of our programmes. This in itself stands as a testimony that we are actualizing the dream of our founding fathers.
“At this convocation ceremony, the Polytechnic is awarding Diplomas and Certificates to a total of 18,428 graduands being the combined sets of 2013/2014 to 2018/2019 academic sessions.”
The Rector also reiterated the commitment and determination of the management to maintain the tradition of the polytechnic: the tradition of producing quality graduands that can compete favourably with their counterparts across the world.
“This tradition is in line with the vision of the polytechnic which is ‘to be a polytechnic of high academic excellence for the ultimate purpose of providing relevant and skilled manpower needed for the economic and technological growth and development of the nation through teaching, research, linkages …. and community service.”
It was really heart warming that, the Polytechnic has continued to weather the storm and set the pace in terms of the delivery of quality higher education to thousands of budding youths from state and beyond.
All these tangible achievements could not have been possible without the requisite sustained moral and financial support to the institution from the Governor Tambuwal-led administration.
Mustapha, a Sokoto-based journalist, wrote in from Sokoto.