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Borno, Yobe schools need FG special grants – Rector

Your institution was closed for several months following attack by the insurgents before it was reopened recently. What challenges are you facing now?We must thank…

Your institution was closed for several months following attack by the insurgents before it was reopened recently. What challenges are you facing now?
We must thank the Almighty God for sparing our lives to see this day and the school coming back to session. But our greatest challenges are two. First, is the problem of students’ enrolment because, if you consider 2010/2011 session we had 3,219 registered students, by 2011/2012 session when we started having this crises the students’ number dropped to 2,793 and as at this session, 2013/2014 the number further reduced to 1,035. So, you can see the trend keeps deteriorating, and to be honest with you, generally students have developed fear of coming to school here. That is why we hardly get qualified people. And by policy students have to meet certain O’ level requirements before we admit them, and even when we admit students they find it difficult to come and register. That is in terms of the student’s population.
Then, for the students who are already here with us, we have a big electricity generating set that supplied light to the students’ hostels and staff quarters on rationing; if today we give staff quarters, tomorrow it will be the turn of students’ hostels. That is how we are maintaining the academic area because we can’t rely on NEPA.
But with the recent development and in view of the curfew and general fear, students find it difficult to stay late in the academic area to read. They have to move back to their hostels where light is not always available due to the rationing between the students hostels and the staff quarters. Exams are approaching and the students cannot have good opportunity to read in the night.
 
In this kind of situation, how are coping with the financial demands of the institution?
Actually, it is seriously affecting us because within the last two years, I have serious challenges with the internally generated revenue, and this meagre amount is now being compounded by certain allowances (Peculiar Academic Allowances) approved by the federal government, which we are directed to pay from our internally generated revenue. So, the academic staff are on our neck asking for the allowances and with the situation on ground, there is no way we can generate funds that can be enough to pay the allowances.
So you can see the situation we find ourselves now. To be honest with you, our four years internally generated revenue cannot pay the one year academic staff allowances. So the challenges are just enormous.
Thank God the union understands and we have been putting heads together to see how best to address the issue of the Peculiar Academic Allowances because, they had complained to the council threatening internal strike. So, funding is a serious issue to us.
 
What measures are you taking to restore the confidence of the fleeing students?
The military has been assisting us very well; recently we even honoured some of them. We have a military base permanently stationed on our campus so that in the event of anything they would quickly respond, The military headquarters is just by our gate, and check points were mount strategically by our fences, with  these three military positions this will give students confidence that they are protected.
The military are always responding on time, like the time the institution was attacked, they responded within 10 minutes and that was how the incident was quickly checked otherwise the school would have been burnt completely.
 
What is your response to the attack on your school?
It was shocking and devastating because as an indigene of this state, I feel that Yobe is one of the educationally disadvantaged states in the country. And the insurgents that are attacking us are mostly our children. So, for goodness sake why should our people destroy our academic institution? So it was demoralising to me.
I am appealing to everybody that even if there is crisis certain areas such as institutions should be spared. And this is a federal government institution therefore government will not exempt us from all other institutions and give us special treatment. We normally rely on the annual budget, so if we destroy our property it’s to our disadvantage.
 
After the destruction, where did you accommodate the dislodged departments?
In this case we must thank God and TETFUND because we were given a lot of money within the last three years and we were able to have so many new structures which include the 750 capacity lecture theatre, three new workshops at Civil and Mechanical Engineering departments, computer labs stocked 100 computers and a complete Department of Civil Engineering with lots more classes built and renovation works in several departments within the school. So we were able to put up structures within the three years’ period that are even more than what we had in the last 10 years.
Fortunately, too, with the new structures we have we were able to relocate the two departments to squat with some other departments pending the time that the departments would be repaired. I laid my complaint with the National Board for Technical Education and the board, through its executive secretary graciously allocated N50 million to us to rebuild the two departments. It’s in our 2012 budget but the problem is that up till today the fund has not been released. But presently, we plan to move the affected students to the newly built Agricultural Technology complex, that is, if we are not able to finish renovation work on time.
 
What call do you have for both federal and state governments as regard to schooling under Boko Haram crisis?
My call to the federal government is to give a special grant to schools in Borno and Yobe states, and this should be outside the annual budgetary allocation because our challenges are just enormous as we cannot operate like normal institutions. Although the state governor is trying in terms of infrastructures, but the governor should also assist the institution through the housing estates project because we also need it.
We have a vast area of land here and therefore government should come and build at least an estate so that our staff will have befitting accommodation which is to the advantage of the entire state because most of our staff have resigned now, especially those from the south for lack of secure accommodation. We are ready to provide site whenever government is ready for the project.
 
Do you mean some staff of the institution have abandoned the job due to insecurity?
Of course yes, some of our staff have absconded including a Head of Department. And many of them have tendered resignation letters. When key officers resign the school will be technically understaffed because most of the good ones have left. And the situation is affecting our performance academically.

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