The immediate past Rector of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu, Lagos, Mr. Oluyinka Sogunro spoke with KAYODE OLANREWAJU shortly before the expiration of his tenure, about his administration’s challenges, achievements, innovations by the institution and his expectations from the next Rector, among others
As the Rector of the polytechnic for five years, how would you describe your tenure?
Well, I will say my tenure has been very successful despite all the challenges and odds.
In terms of achievements, what are those things achieved during your tenure?
As a person, I don’t need to blow my trumpet by myself. But, the achievements of my administration are there for everyone to see, and not only in the area of structures and physical development.
When we talk about achievements we should not be talking about structures alone. There are many things we have been able to put in place in the last five years.
For instance, if you go to our laboratories you will see the way in which we have equipped them with state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and reagents. We were able to build and construct new laboratories in the Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) Department; we built six laboratories for the department.
Besides, additional laboratories were constructed in all the Schools before the last accreditation exercise by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
We have three laboratories in the School of Agriculture and ditto in other Schools in the polytechnic.
So, it is not only about physical structures. If you visit the schools, you will see what we have been able to accomplish in terms of provision of furniture in classrooms where there was no furniture for students in order to make the classroom environment and lecture rooms more comfortable for our students.
In the area of academics, it is no longer news that we presented 66 academic programmes to the National Board for Technical Education, the regulatory agency for polytechnics and monotechnics education in the country for accreditation and the polytechnic had 100 per cent accreditation of all the courses.
This is apart from the general accreditation of the polytechnic as an institution. This is also a great achievement.
Of course, it has not been easy as an institution to secure accreditation for all the 66 academic programmes that we are running. We presented the 66 academic programmes at go and we got 100 per cent accreditation for all the courses.
This is a landmark achievement. Again, not only this, the management introduced the General Agriculture Programme, as our sterling contribution to address the food sufficiency crisis in the country.
Besides, as an institution, the man agement does not want a situation where our students will graduate and begin to look for non-existent jobs. Under the agriculture programme, if a student is studying Computer Engineering that would not mean that he or she cannot go into farming.
This is why we introduced the General Agriculture Programme, where students engage and practise farming every Wednesday after their lectures. They do this with joy. It is one of our achievements.
Again, for some time now, may I say for over 15 or 20 years, no sitting governor of this state has ever visited this polytechnic or attended its convocation ceremonies, but two governors during our administration visited the polytechnic.
For instance, Governor Akinwumi Ambode came to attend our graduation and he promised us many things, which he could not fulfill because of the crisis.
Again, Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu attended our last convocation and promised that the polytechnic’s administrative complex and the power station will be built; the perimeter fencing of the polytechnic, as well offer of automatic employment the best graduating students, while the abandoned polytechnic sports complex will be reviewed and construction completed.
For the Administrative Building, we have advertised and conducted the tender, while the contract has been awarded, and all these have been forwarded to the appropriate quarters for the take-off of the project.
The governor has also given approval for the construction of the perimeter fencing for which we have done the tender and the contract has been awarded.
Also, the fire station is in the process of awarding the contract, while the best graduating student at the last convocation has been offered a job as promised by His Excellence.
With all these, virtually all what the governor promised the polytechnic has been fulfilled.
What are some of the major challenges faced by your administration?
Again, let me state here without ambiguity that there were a lot of challenges. When I came in as Rector, my administration inherited two major challenges on assumption of office.
Those two challenges are financial in nature, which was why there were problems during my tenure. And, because of the challenges there was a crisis in the institution between 2016 and 2019 for which the incumbent Governor of the state intervened by asking the staff to go back to work after several months of lull in the system.
The governor, as the Moderator of the polytechnic because of the protracted crisis, set up a visitation panel to look into the matter, with a view to resolving the contentious issues.
Meanwhile, the panel has completed its work and we are expecting its report. We cannot preempt the report of that visitation panel. I know that very soon the report will be submitted and made open.
Those were the major challenges. I thank God that I was able to resolve the two challenges before the expiration of my tenure. One of the challenges was that of the 2010 retirees, and the other one is the CONTISS II Migration.
I don’t want to go into the details, but to the best of my knowledge that one had also been solved. Whatever hitches that are there, the panel report will reveal them.
What would you have done in the last five years as Rector that you couldn’t do or achieve, and for which you want your successor to address?
Well, people used to say such statements about outgoing leaders that what they probably would have done, but which they did not do. Of course, no one can do everything in a system.
You have to do your bit and someone else will also come and do his or her bit in order to consolidate or build on what the predecessors were able to do during their tenure.
This is not an exception to our situation here. But, I know that the legacy I have put in place in the last five years of my administration. For instance, discipline is key in the running of an institution or organisation.
Thus, whoever is coming as the next Rector, the issue of discipline must be his or her priority. Like I earlier mentioned, there are so many things that have been done in which the person must build on.
In this wise, I want to say continuity is important for the polytechnic to make progress.
Whoever that is coming to take over from me as the next Rector, should ensure continuity of the polytechnic programmes in line with the vision and aspirations of the founding fathers of the institution.
But, if you are talking about continuity, what happened to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the polytechnic and Highbury College, United Kingdom on skills acquisition programme, which was facilitated during the tenure of the former Rector Olawumi Gasper?
Well, you should realise that there have been two Rectors after Engr. Olawumi Gasper left before I came in 2016. In fact, there have been some technical issues along the line, which my administration has tried to resolve.
On this collaboration, there was a time the Deputy Rector went to the United Kingdom for a conference and we asked him to liaise with the College on how we can renew the collaboration.