Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Bayelsa lawmakers wednesday expressed disgust over moves to close down the Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe in Southern Ijaw local council, warning that such plan by any agency of the federal government or the House of Representatives would be stoutly resisted.
Specifically, the lawmakers urged the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Dr. Masâ€™udu Kazaure, and the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Tertiary Education, Aminu Suleiman, to stop any surreptitious moves to that effect.
Suleiman, representing Fagge Federal Constituency (Kano State) had last week threatened to work closely with the concerned agencies of government to stop funding for the oil and gas institution, arguing that the school was being attended by lizards and rats.
But in a motion by Mr Baraladei Daniel Igali tagged â€the urgent need to reverse the threat to close down the federal polytechnic, Ekoweâ€, the lawmaker urged the authorities to draw a comparison between what is spent annually on funding of some polytechnics in the north as opposed to what the school gets.
â€œMr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that Kazaureis acting in tandem with Hon. Aminu Suleiman in his bid to close down the institution.
â€œThe House is aware that Southern Ijaw Local Government Area where the institution is located is one of the highest oil producing areas in Nigeria. The House is further aware that the proceeds of oil and gas are the main sources of funding for all government owned institutions of learning and other agencies including the NBTE.
â€œThe major problem facing the Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe, is lack of proper funding and not the absence of students and staff. In 2017 for instance, while the total budget for the institution is about N1billion, only that of the Federal Polytechnic Kaduna is over N7 billion.
â€œFederal Polytechnic, Kaura-Namoda gets about N3 billion, Federal Polytechnic Gwandu about N3 billion etc. The House further notes that the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State had suffered the same fate in recent years,â€ the lawmaker argued.
The institution established to train manpower for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, Igali (Southern Ijaw Constituency 3) maintained, currently has a student population of about 2000 students, runs 15 functional departments and is expected to admit over 1500 students this session.
He added: â€œHon. Aminu Suleiman vowed that no money will be appropriated to the institution in the 2018 budget of the federal government.â€
The House therefore resolved: â€œto totally condemn the statements credited to Hon. Aminu Suleiman and Dr. Mas,udu Kazaure about the institution and to call on the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Assembly to allocate more funds to the Federal Polytechnic Ekowe in the 2018 fiscal year and beyondâ€
The lawmakers also urged members of the National Assembly from Bayelsa State to take up the matter at the National Assembly and set up a 12-man ad hoc committee to visit the institution.
Some others who contributed to the motion were: Emmanuel Tonye Isenah(Chief Whip), Mitema Obordor (Deputy Leader), and Koku Obiyai.