Talking to Businessday in his office, he exhumes simplicity and down to heart as the energetic Special Adviser on Education to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in this interview with MARK MAYAH, takes you down the lane on the onerous task before his office as well as the reforms Governor Sanwo-Olu have been pushing in the past 12 months. The zeal to ensure the right thing is done in the formal and informal education sector is indeed the driving force for Tokunbo Wahab. Excerpts:
How has it been in the past 12 months in the states’ tertiary institutions under your watchdog?
A very worthwhile judgement at the beginning of the present administration and ultimately peaceful in our tertiary institutions in the past one year. At the inception, His Excellency Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu inherited pockets of restlessness in two of our campuses, particularly Lagos state polytechnic, Ikorodu which led to the setting up of a Visitation Panel of enquiry to unravel and recommend best positive practice ways in moving the institution forward. I assure you that the report is ready and submitted for onward transmission to Mr Governor for action and implementation. Good to note also that next 24 months, a befitting administrative bluilding shall be handed over to LASPOTECH authority, as contractor awarded the contract had gotten mobilization fees and already at the site.
The administrative building had been a promissory note for years. We also have cause to appoint a provost in one of the oldest colleges of education, Adeniran Ogunsanya college of education, Ijanikin. The process was transparent and merit driven. At the state university, towards consolidating the institutions’ developmental strides, the governor had on December 28, 2019 signed an agreement for a Public Private partnership model, first in Africa – to provide 56, 876 bed- spaces for the students. We did not commit a kobo into the project. It was structured in a way that LASU becomes the owner of the campuses from the private developers at the end of transactions. Other tertiary institutions will follow suite. Aside, we had completed infrastructures such as: lecture theatres, Research Laboratories, hostels and ICT facilities at the state College of Nursing and Midwifery as to enable the college admit more students and have accreditation from the Council of Nursing and Midwifery of Nigeria. At the moment, the college is the sole institution providing nurses for the entire state. We had approved the admission of 75 student- nurse for next academic session from the armies of applicants.
How soon is your office expected to conclude the process for the appointment of a substantive rector in the state polytechnic?
No thanks to COVID-19 pandemic that erupted globally, which hindrance the early process. At the moment, upon the constituting of a screening panel, we had sent out invitation letters to the 17 qualified candidates for screening. A candidate must meet with criteria set up by the law estsblishing the polytechnic, which includes: indigeneship, excellent resume and moral behavioural attitude etc. Thereafter, successful candidates selected from the 17 aspirants will in turn meet the main interview committee that is responsible for the emergence of a substantive rector in September, 2020. We are going to take the best among equals. They all have good resumes but one out of the armies of applicants Will emerged. We hope that the lockdown law would be reviewed so as to enable candidates outside Lagos travel down. A substantive rector for the polytechnic will resume in August, after all the processes are completed by July ending. The acting period ends in August, 2020.
Your stake on FG/ASUU face-off?
If you could observe, LASU is not taking part in the ongoing nationwide strike. Our lectures are ongoing online at the institution. This is made possible because we were able to manage the issue internally. The fact also is that the state is not owing her lecturers. We are ahead of our peers as a state, Lagos stands shoulders above all other states in the federation. Am not saying all these because am in government, but because I understand that in all the existing tertiary institutions in the state, we understand their needs and we are providing them accordingly as at when due since assumption of office of Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu in 2019. Tertiary institutions are where you expect a superior argument and respect it, if you want them to grow. It’s when you allow teachers to grow, the students and the larger public the beneficiaries. We take care of our lecturers, non academic staff and students at meeting the set goals. We need to take responsibility beyond the government.
What are measures putting in place towards early resumption of students in the state tertiary institutions?
There was a meeting between Mr Governor and Heads of tertiary institutions last week Tuesday at Alausa. The institutions rolled out their road map to the government on how they would open the schools. They are expected to scale down the opening of schools beginning with those in their terminal year, starting from 400 level students, 300 level students and verse versa. Pragmatically, we will open the schools in such a way that the COVID-19 pandemic will not spread in the schools’ community. You have raised a very germaine question. What is expected of us the moment directiveis given for reopening is that, since JAMB admission is based on school criteria in bringing a student into campus, we will admit and each institution will also determine when a particular level of students are to resume. Students will resume in sequence beginning with those in 400 level, closely follow with those in 300 level, then 200 level students and finally freshers. The old students are presently receiving lectures online as we speaks, in all our campuses including the college of nursing and midwifery. So by the time you open the four walls of the campuses, we then ask the students to come in, do revision then examination and we ask them to go home. We lost nothing in Lagos so far.
With the present high cost of education in our tertiary institutions, how do you supplement your indigene students?
Please to note that a sum of #500 million has been approved for payment for qualified state indigenes in tertiary institutions across the country. The largese will go the way of no fewer than 350 students for the 2019/2020 academic sesdion. The interview already conducted by the state scholarship Board, to ascertained true identity of all the qualified candidates.that had sought for the grants. Hopefully after lifting the inter- state movement lockdown, the concern students will have their cheques pay to them. The cheques are ready for collection.