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[The Concourse] FEDERAL POLYTECHNIC OHODO: One Project Too Many

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On Tuesday last week, while encomiums were pouring on His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the executive governor of Enugu state, for the completion of Ogbodu Aba – Akpoga – Mbu – Neke – Nike link road project which shortened the distance to the state capital to a few minutes drive from Nsukka hinterlands, Ndi Enugu went to bed and woke up to the news of an approval for the establishment of a novel federal polytechnic in Ohodo town, Igbo Etiti LGA of the state.

It was eureka: an uhuru!

Enugu is fiscally disadvantaged in terms of internally generated revenue (IGR) compared to her contemporaries. It has no international market, it has neither seaport nor oil. The only thing it boasts of, is institutions of learning. And most of those schools were either the state’s or privately owned. Federal presence in educational institutions was only University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and Federal College of Education (FCEE).

And so it became necessary that another federal institution of learning be established to balance up the shortfall in that regard. Enugu as a state, has played protuberant role as the eastern capital, yet her sister states flaunts more federal citadels of high learning than she does. Imo, Ebonyi and Anambra have all cadres of federal schools – one federal University, federal College Of Education and federal Polytechnic each. Enugu had only one federal university and college of Education, until last week, when in a letter dated January 29, 2021, the Hon. Minister of Education informed Gov. Ugwuanyi that his request for the establishment of a federal polytechnic at Ohodo is approved by the President with initial take off grant of 2billion naira to be sourced from TETFund.

Two months prior to that date, a Priest of Nsukka diocese from Gov Ugwuanyi’s extended kindred of Uzo uwani, Rev. Fr. Dennis Attah had published an open letter to the Governor, in which he had enlisted some projects he viewed as “essential” if Nsukka is to measure up to other zones of the state in terms of infrastructural development and government institutional presence.

His message was explosive and placid at the same time, that not even the strident cacophony of dissenting voices could submerge it. Citing the enduring legacy of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, in gifting UNN to us, he advocated for similar projects from Ugwuanyi, for “posterity’s sake” (in his own word). Today, it can safely be inferred that the addressee has replied the sender in more practical and eloquent ways than one.

In his first tenure as POTUS, whatever Barack Obama did, there were large numbers of both Republicans and Democrats quite willing to loudly second-guess him.

Including Representative Dennis Kucinich (a Democrat), who became the first member of Congress to call for President Obama to be impeached over the Libyan war.

These criticisms were often contradictory (coming from the same people, at times), and were scathing and absolutely relentless: “Obama had waited too long,” “Obama had moved too quickly,” “Obama should have gotten Congress’ approval,” “Obama shouldn’t have gotten the U.N.’s approval,” etc.

In similar manner, Gov. Ugwuanyi have had a fair share of criticisms (justifiable or not). But like Obama, he is winning the admiration of the people in non-verbal styles.

Everything about the polytechnic is unique and appealing. From the choice of the site, to the timing, it won the praise of the masses and elites alike.

Considering that Ohodo aside palm wine tapping and farming has nothing in its résumé to brag about, it is very fitting that a castle of learning of federal status be cited there to bestow on the ancient town a decorated name in world map. Igbo Etiti nay Nsukka as whole would relish the choice and the natives of Ohodo will eternally be grateful.

Enugu East and West zones of the state are hosts to numerous institutions of high learning: Enugu State University of Science & Technology (ESUTH), University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC), with their respective teaching hospitals. Institute of Management & Technology (IMT) which is the state-owned monotechnic, Enugu State College Of Education Technical (ESCET), Enugu State Polytechnic Iwolo, with not a few private universities etc.

Enugu North as a zone had only UNN and FCEE before now. So it struck a note in the nucleus of equity that the Governor pulled such string at this point.

Louis Amoke, Media Adviser to the Governor had barely released a statement on the arrival of Federal Road Maintenance Agency — FERMA’s team to Enugu on inspection visit for the construction of an ultramodern round-about at the ever busy Opi junction, when the news of this approval broke. While some opinion holders were of the view that Opi junction deserve a flyover bridge instead of round-about, it was nonetheless a welcome development.

But their suggestion became more manifest now that the polytechnic is coming. Apparently, both human and vehicular traffic along the Obollo-Afor – Opi – Igbo Etiti road will double. And so, Orba junction, Opi junction and Ogbede junction need such facelift to help decongest them.

If we are to draw analogy and borrow a leaf from the bordering Anambra, we could remember that when Amaku General Hospital Awka became the teaching hospital for Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), and UNIZIK permanent site was completed in the same city, Gov. Obi eased traffic congestion in Awka by constructing flyover bridges at two strategic points on the highway: Aroma and Amawbia junctions.

As more developments come, commensurate adjustments ought to be made. “Nnukwu ite na-eri nnukwu nku” is an Igbo adage which supports contingency planning, that “huge pot consumes huge firewood to cook.”

Though, this appeal may be coming late, as the plan for the round-about has, ostensibly been concluded, it will serve as counterstrategic subterfuge to government in future urban planning.

Whatever be the case, the rainbow of hope created by the state government in prompt project delivery especially in the past one year gives cocksureness to the ongoing advocacy for the reconstruction of Ogwu Obollo Afor – Umuitodo – Ibenda – Obollo Eke – Umalor – Neke – Ehamufu road. Let us not despair, more is evidently coming!

Ka Chineke mezie okwu.

✍Eze Jude O.

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