A member of the Ogoni clean-up Governing Council in Rivers state, Dr. Peter Medee, has accused Governor Nyesom Wike of not being well disposed to issues concerning Ogoni land, just as he lambasted him for downgrading the polytechnic in Ogoni land and reducing it to a glorified secondary school.
Dr. Medee also accused the Governor of reducing the reputation of the polytechnic sited in Bori, thereby making students abandon the polytechnic in preference for the one he cited in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Medee, who is a senior Economics lecturer in the University of Port Harcourt, told NAIJ.com in Port Harcourt that Governor Wike’s administration changed the name of the polytechnic, thereby localizing the school and making it look like a private institution.
The Economics lecturer, who also serves as President of KAGOTE, an acronym for the four council areas that make up the Ogoni land, poured venom on the governor insisting that Governor Wike’s administration has no good programme for the Ogoni people of Rivers State.
According to him, “Everyday people are dying as a result of high level of benzene that is highly contagious in the area. Former President Goodluck Jonathan that was expected to do something for the people didn’t do anything in that place.
“No drinking water, no school, no federal presence in Ogoni land. The only thing that was there which is the Rivers State polytechnic, the present state government came, changed the name, thereby localizing the institution, making it look like a private institution.
“Later, the Governor upgraded another school in Port Harcourt town to a polytechnic status and as I speak to you there is a drift of students from that school in Ogoni land to the Port Harcourt school.Nobody wants to go to the hinterland of Ogoni that is so devastated without road”.
He said Governor Wike changed the polytechnic name from Rivers State Polytechnic to Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic and upgraded the Rivers State College of Arts and Science in Port Harcourt to Rivers State Polytechnic, a development which he said did not go down well with the Ogoni people.
He accused the Governor of being unfair to the Ogoni people, arguing that if the Governor was well disposed to the Ogonis, he would have retained the former name so that the institution would have the symbol of the state government.
He told NAIJ.com in his university office that he was a member of the governing council that planned programmes for the school, adding that the governing council had met with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for approval but certain actions of the governor had altered the over 18 months brainstorming they made to standardize the school.
“We spent almost 18 months to recruit teachers, but the present government came, sacked all the teachers, and because all the teachers were sacked, we couldn’t get accreditation for the programmes we presented to the NBTE and as a result of that, the institution was denied accreditation.
“The governor came again changed the name of the school. Some of us were apprehensive because we felt that Ken Saro Wiwa was an international figure. If you must immortalize him, why not name him after the state university? Why name him after the school in Ogoni. He now came and upgraded Rivers State College of Arts and Science to Rivers State Polytechnic.
“People are now saying the two schools cannot compete. As I speak to you now, all the students who have finished their National Diploma and going for HND are leaving the school for HND in the Port Harcourt Polytechnic.
“There is a massive exodus of students from the place to Port Harcourt. Some of us who are leaders of Ogoni are not happy, we called the governor and told him to upgrade the school to university status or return the name of the school to what it was before.
“The school at present is at the mercy of the Governor because no new programme is going on, no new structure is in the place. Meanwhile, the one in Port Harcourt is now being judged as the world’s best polytechnic but the one in Ogoni is suffering.
"We are not against him building polytechnics, if he wants to build 10 polys, no problem but he should bring life to the school in Ogoni land. The other day, lecturers in the school were demonstrating that they are not being paid their salaries. You are building another polytechnic when you have not paid salary of one. These are issues that are rising and they need be looked into”.
But the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Austin Tam George, debunked the claims of Dr. Medee, saying the state has two polytechnics and that the establishment of one cannot lead to the closure of the other.
The commissioner said the two polytechnics in the state will thrive, just as the three universities in the state are thriving with thousands of students in them.
He said the commitment of the state government is to ensure that all the institutions are centres of excellence in learning, with fully accredited programmes.