By Dr. Ugochukwu Iwuji

The Federal Polytechnic Nekede last Friday rolled out the drums in celebration of her 8th substantive Rector, Engr. Dr. Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa, in a valedictory ceremony that featured a public lecture and presentation of a Book of Reading (Festschrift) in honour of the Rector who is acclaimed as the father of modern Federal Polytechnic Nekede.

Speakers at the historic event poured encomiums on the Rector for actualizing the epic 14-point agenda and 72-point target which he spelt out on assumption of office on September 10, 2018.

They specifically praised Dr. Arimanwa for executing his smart campus initiative with precision which has ensured efficient management of information, access to e-library services, electronic conduct of elections, paperless Council, Management and Academic Board meetings, well-coordinated e-learning and Computer-based examinations, sustainable automated staff and student record keeping, deployment of 155MBPS from MTN through a fibre optic link to the Network Operating Centre and the deployment of smart technology nipping security and corruption cases in the bud.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo lauded the Rector for leaving behind noble legacies of technological infrastructure.

In his words, “The Rector, Engr. Dr. Michael Arimanwa is a good man who has performed as a leader. I have a lot of respect for him. He believes in my leadership and I am ready to support him. I am happy he has leveraged on technology to do a lot for the institution. I commend him for the smart campus project which is what the world needs today.”

The foremost Igbo leader also charged students to imbibe the culture of education and excellence as according to him, “Education is a heritage” which made the Igbos stand out in the past when positions in the country were given out on merit.

In his speech, the keynote speaker, Mr. Leonard Nnamdi Stanley Ekeh (Leo-Stan) who delivered his address on zoom congratulated the Rector for taking the polytechnic to great heights through a strategic deployment of technology. He discussed the imperatives of technology in any business, while urging institutions to embrace technology to succeed. He specifically lauded the Rector for actualizing an ambitious smart campus project which has redefined the academic culture of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede. He pointed out that it was owing to the technological revolution that Dr. Arimanwa brought to bear in the institution that he supplied tech products at subsidized rates to the polytechnic.

Meanwhile, the guest speaker of the occasion, Prof Lucian Obinna Chukwu, has stated that in a world of dynamism, the only solution is a smart campus system. The academic don who is also the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services) at the University of Lagos defined a smart campus as that which is data-driven, secure, with high premium on academic credibility, e-learning approach and high internet connectivity. He further posited that the smart campus is the future of higher education in Nigeria, challenging institutions to integrate cutting-edge technologies that are engaging to a generation of people he termed “the digital natives”.

The guest speaker extolled the Rector for deploying ICT in solving the myriad of educational problems facing Nigerian institutions. He lauded the smart campus initiative of the Rector which has ensured that digital technology is deployed in virtually all sectors of life at the institution. Prof Chukwu thanked the Rector for designing and implementing an e-screening platform for the first time in the institution. He also identified the successful design and launch of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP platform), deployment and installation of Internet Protocol (IP) Surveillance Camera around the campus, full automation of the library and medical services, design and deployment of electronic voting software and annual performance software, among others, as milestones recorded in the realization of the smart campus dream.

In a brief address, Dr. Ikechukwu Ukweh, who is the Managing Director of GTCO Ltd commended the Rector for being highly visionary and dynamic in leadership. He recalled several meetings convened at the behest of the Rector where he clearly spelt out his vision of a smart campus and how he wanted it to be run. He therefore lauded the tenacity of the Rector in ensuring that his smart campus project was realized in the face of palpable resistance by members of staff who had phobia for smart technology.

In his valedictory lecture, the Rector Engr. Dr. Michael Arimanwa discussed issues bordering on subsidy of petroleum products in Nigeria, where he made vital recommendations to the federal government.

Hear him, “There is need for special legislation to encourage and develop polytechnic/technical education […] In this way, polytechnic education can become a source of emancipation from unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment as skills and necessary knowledge are acquired for economic progress and development.”

Dr. Arimanwa also urged the government to study the implementation of subsidy regime in other countries like China, USA, United Kingdom and Germany, to mention a few, “with a view to adopting the best or a hybrid to achieve the best for the Nigerian masses.”

One of the highlights of the ceremony was the presentation of a festschrift in honour of the Rector, which was performed by the chairman of the occasion, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.

The Book of Reading which has over thirty eight articles is predicated on the theme: “Improving Academic Standard and Administration in Tertiary Education System using Information and Communication Technology: Prospects and Challenges.”

There was also an art exhibition by the Department of Art and Design where the eventful journey of the Rector from inception to date was illustrated in elegant prints and designs.

The choir of Praise God Chapel was on hand to add colour to the event through beautiful renditions.

Dignitaries from all walks of life attended the event, including the traditional institution, clergy, military, para-military and of course, the academia.

26 August, 2023.

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