Dr (Barr.) Israel Benson Affia is the incumbent rector of Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Ekpene. He assumed duties on January 13, 2013 with the promise to “raise the bar”. That is why his supporters are called “barmen or Israelites”.
To the disappointed many, the only bar he probably has raised may be related to bar soap or drinks bar. The bar of excellence has drastically been lowered during these past two and a half years. Indeed, when the history of Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic shall have been written, Israel Affia will conveniently rank as one of the most incompetent rectors in the institution.
Under his watch, the institution has needlessly lost the license to run the National Diploma Programmes in Electrical/ Electronic Engineering (a department headed by his nephew); Survey and Geo Informatics, and Higher National Diploma (HND) in Science Laboratory Technology (a department headed by his focus group choice of his successor).
No school is permitted by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to issue certificates in courses which are not fully accredited. The NBTE has only given the Department of Public Administration of the institution approval in principle. Instead of working for full accreditation, Barr. Affia is disingenuous to the unsuspecting public by admitting and passing out students from the unaccredited department.
His political affiliation notwithstanding, such attitude will deny the State of the much required middle level technical manpower within its expanding infrastructural needs. Being an appointee of a government in pursuit of free and compulsory education, where is the receptacle for the surging graduates of that programme.
Rather than a bar raiser, some believe he is a power abuser. The rector, deputy rector, registrar, bursar and librarian are appointed principal officers of the polytechnic. They constitute the polytechnic management. Barr. Affia operates unilaterally without recourse to other management staff in the taking of key decisions. Management meetings are rare.
In spite of internally generated revenue of well cover N1billion within his tenure, the incumbent rector has not contemplated talk less of undertaking any capital project. For instance, the school library has deteriorated to the extent of one library seat to 39 students. Lest I forget, he made some 4,000 (according to him) inferior students’ desks two years ago and more than half are now broken.
Cronyism, institutionalized corruption and discrimination against perceived enemies are implied in his actions. How could a rector worth his mettle plead with the Academic Board of the institution not to punish a corrupt lecturer because the individual was related to him? Why should a qualified staff be maliciously denied the TETfund scholarship grant?
What more can be said? You need to walk into the institution to feel the level of discontent. It is understood that its Governing Council has queried the rector on different aspects of financial misappropriation. What is baffling is why they have not found it fit to arrest such level of incompetence. It behooves on all well-meaning citizens of this State to pray that Dr. (Barr) Israel Benson Affia should be asked to stop his wanton destruction of our beloved polytechnic. He should go.
Ephraim Ikpe is a Journalist based in Uyo.