Auchi Polytechnic Rector, Dr. Salisu Shehu Umar, former Senior lecturer in the department of Statistics speak to Afemaireporters via interview how he emerged Rector, his achievements so far, Polytechnic funding and the wellbeing of the Polytechnic
Afemaireporters: Can we meet you sir?
Rector: Yes. My name is Dr. Salisu Shehu Umar, I hail from Zamfara State. I served here in the year 1995, incidentally, before my service year I was already employed under the department of Accountancy in Auchi Polytechnic because there was no department of statistics as at then. A year after, we were transferred from Accountancy department to Natural science all of us that studied statistics and mathematics. I attained the level of Chief lecturer in 2015. I attended several schools, I graduated from Kaduna Polytechnic for my HND, went to University of Ibadan (UI) for my postgraduate, and same University of Ibadan, I had my Master’s degree before going to Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma for my PhD. So, I have been in Auchi Polytechnic against the background where some people saying how can somebody from Zamfara State be the Rector of Auchi Polytechnic? I have served the institution since 1995 to 2019 and that’s approximately 25yrs before leaving for Kaduna for obvious reasons. And in 2022, when I came back to the Polytechnic, it wasn’t a new terrain to me, because everyone knows me, we eat together. I know who is who and what is what in Auchi Poly. It is only those who do not know me, would say, why will a Zamfara person be the Rector of Auchi Polytechnic.
Afemaireporters: How were you elected as the polytechnic rector?
Rector: Every Polytechnic have its own procedures, you first apply when there is an advert. I went through the process of the governing council after submitting the necessary documents, it will be forwarded to the screening committee to check again those who are qualified for interview. After that process, we were all invited for the interview and out of the 24 of us, only six of were actually screened to come for the interview. When we came for the interview, we first had computer based knowledge test and as you all know, somebody from statistics must be good in the system before moving to the interview proper. When I entered, the chairman asked me, Hello gentleman! Are you traveling? I said NO sir, but he said, why are you carrying bags? And I said, I brought all the requirements met for the interview, so, they were surprised to see the qualities and numbers of publications I had and as someone who has always been in the Polytechnic environment. Well, as at that time, I have 20 international journals, over 25 national journals, over 50 conferences and 22 books to my grade and as God wants it, I came out first.
Afemaireporters: How do you intend to work alongside with the Auchi community Landlords in admitting much students?
Rector: Auchi as a community and its environs is not a new place to me. My first assignment was to call all the landlords for a round table discussions. I discussed with the landlords to look at all students as their children.
Again, my plans towards the student’s hostels is to extend it so that, it can accommodate more than 750 students.
Afemaireporters: What are your goals towards the development of the polytechnic?
Rector: it has always been my vision to make Auchi Polytechnic an international standard and that is why I don’t compare the Polytechnic with the Polytechnics here in Nigeria or Africa but International schools and that’s why I have visited almost all the Polytechnics in Nigeria and I want everyone to see our projects with eyemark and not earmark. The issue of lecturer collecting money from students either for project or anything at all is almost at zero level and I believe during my first anniversary I will beat my chest and said, I have done something good. Before I resumed office, the school hostels were nothing to write home about but God helped me, I contracted some engineers, I begged to help us fixed the dilapidated buildings. They all listened to me and by God’s grace the school hostel has been renovated.
Afemaireporters: What is your own point of view in regards to checking of result online?
Rector: Nigeria as a country has placed us on a terrible terrain where every human being doesn’t know who is who in the country today. I cannot put my dear students life in danger in the name of checking result. Online checking of result in Auchi Polytechnic is a welcome development to both the students and their guidance. As a person, I wouldn’t want to endangered the life of a student coming to Auchi to come and check his/her result whereas if he/she have a smartphone or probably go to any nearby cafe, he can access his/her result there. And very soon, the management is working to upgrade to see how even those in outside Nigeria can collect their transcript without contacting anybody in Nigeria. Before now, students destroy the result on the noticed board because they do not want people to know their GPA or they use biro to cancel their matriculation number and some of them, in the process of trying to cancel their matriculation number can mistakenly cancel that of another student then depriving those students from checking their result on the notice board. And before you know it, those who couldn’t check theirs before others destroyed the notice board will be disturbing exam officer or the department of not seeing their results. Some students even go as far of memorizing other students matriculation number without their knowledge just to check the result of others. So, it is a good development that, everywhere is calm whenever results are out.
Afemaireporters: What do you think is lacking in the polytechnic security that you want to look into?
Rector: You see, a lot of things are lacking. Recently, I have increased the number of security from 265 to 300 and I have also had meeting with the security outfit, with the Nigeria Army, invite Nigeria police force, Civil defense and some group of vigilante team. I did this so that, our school security can learn more from them too. Though, there is no organization that can provide 100 percent of its management needs but as we speak, I have started from the Polytechnic school Main-gate, we are doing a student’s motor park where students can now park their vehicles and collect parking card. We are at the verge of giving adequate security to our students and we pray God help us in this regard.
Afemaireporters: How do you rate the recent introduction of official Facebook platform page by your office (Auchi Polytechnic Rector), we noticed a lot of students are happy seeing the polytechnic insight being published on daily basis.
Rector: This is innovation era, despite the fact that, I’m trying to do something other than the past Rectors, we want students who do not have access to the school to always see our work.
Afemaireporters: Sir, a lot of students are excited seeing that, they’re graduating this year, how do you feel as the polytechnic rector?
Rector: I am a member of the ASUP association but I never carried myself as a Rector while in a meeting with them, I pleaded with my ASUP members not to truncate my students exams and they listened and I believe that is the yearning of every Rector who mean well for her students. Seeing the students of your school having a free flow education speaks volumes of the institution. Education without strike will always make our students to do well. And it doesn’t affect the students alone when there is strike but the school calendar will equally changed and many lecturers will not be able to meet up with their syllabus. Everyone prefer heat-free semester.
Afemaireporters: Sir, the polytechnic have 3 campuses, Any hope of creating another campus to make it four?
Rector: Though, I have 12 new proposed departments which I have send my proposal to MBTE, I have equally paid for their resource visit and I’m just waiting for their inspection and I pray we pass the inspection that will grant us this 12 new departments. I also intend changing the names of the 3 campuses during my meeting with the school management council. I want people to always identify the campus easily and students should know the area of Auchi community to rent house.
Afemaireporters: Inspite of your tight schedule as a rector, you still find time to write books. What motivates you to write Sir?
Rector: Reading is habit. There are some people that read to pass exams while there are some that read simply because they want to read at all times. So, I am not among those that read to pass exams. I read because I want to read, and by the time I read, and by the time you actually exposed yourself to reading, you will be compelled to see new ideas. Some of the books I have written like 10yrs ago can actually be rewrite or review due to new ideas.
Afemaireporters: How were you able to renovate the polytechnic hostels 3months you were elected as a rector and now under structurs are ongoing?
Rector: When you have people around you who act as friend to you to you everything you plan will always prosper. When I visited the 10 hostels buildings, I told myself even my child cannot stay in any of this hostels. I immediately contracted some friends gave them mandate of fixing the hostels within two weeks (14days) but today, I bet anybody to go to the hostels now, at least, you could see what All Mighty Allah have done. Our students deserved conducive environment and that is what the hostels looks like today.
Afemaireporters: What advice do you have for outgoing students who are about to face the revolving world and the social media where fake news is the order of the day?
Rector: my first advise is for all the graduating students to prosper in their next endeavor. And as such, I must advise, the rate at which fake news and online posting have scattered Nigeria today is nothing to write home about. You can make it without being biased, you can make it when you believe in God but fake news destroy both person and the nations.