From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
It was tough while the feud between the Federal Polytechnic, Oko and the host community, Oko, in Anambra State lasted.
The feud between the management of Federal Polytechnic and the host community raged for more than five years.
The community, which produced Nigeria’s second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and his brother, a professor of music, who incidentally is the traditional ruler, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, have been at loggerheads with the polytechnic management based on some differences.
But last week, in what could be described as God’s direct intervention, the Governing Council of the school in its maiden visit to the institution led by the Chairman, Lasbry Amadi brokered peace and ended the long standing misunderstanding between the duo.
The reconciliation which was one of the major priorities of the 10th Council recently inaugurated by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu in Abuja became a reality during a courtesy call on the traditional ruler, Igwe Ekwueme.
Addressing the Igwe and members of his cabinet, Amadi said the council deemed it necessary to visit the traditional authority of the host community as a mark of respect and to seek his fatherly blessing, advice and cooperation.
“The Governing Council and Polytechnic Management hold Oko traditional
institution in high esteem and would do everything possible to seek a wholesome synergy from the wealth of experience of the Igwe and the host community,” he said.
Amadi said they have gone to the institution and seen the developments and challenges on ground, concluding that they could achieve more with the esteemed cooperation of the traditional ruler and his entire subjects.
“There is no alternative to peace and we cannot work without the inputs and contributions of the community. The council will do its best to achieve greater developments and peace as a panacea to attaining such goals. The polytechnic is what the nation needs for technological advancements in this country,” he said.
He also thanked President Muhamadu Buhari for finding the council members worthy to serve in the federal institution in the expectation that the members were well equipped to achieve greater developments guided by zero tolerance to corruption and creation of wealth through technological innovations.
Also speaking during the visit, the member representing Orumba North and Orumba South, Federal Constituency, Ben Nwankwo advocated peace and progress of the institution, adding that though he was presently a doctoral student in a university, he is a proud graduate of Mass Communication Department of the institution.
Nwankwo also charged the council to restore the confidence of the polytechnic community by achieving peace, adding that he was currently working on a bill to be sponsored by him to make the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, a university of technology.
According to him, “Prof. Godwin Onu has done well in structural and academic development of the school and if sponsoring a bill to make Oko a university of technology is all I can achieve in the federal House, let it be noted that I will be glad to do just that.”
Igwe Ekwueme thanked the chairman and other members of the council for toeing the line of peace and solidarity as demonstrated by their visit.
He maintained that Oko was a peaceful community that has co-existed with the polytechnic community since its inception, pledging to work with the present council of the institution.
He revealed that the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, under his watch as past chairman of the Board of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) was rated high in academics and physical developments.
He, therefore, charged the council to work harder to achieve the aim of making Oko a federal university of technology to serve the South-East.
He regretted the strained relationship with the institution’s management, assuring that Oko has continued to create open hands for peace to reign, stressing that it was his wish to return the resourceful relationship, which had been rewarding to both the school and the host town, Oko.
He called on the council to restore the lost glory of symbiotic relationship between the school and the host community, adding that the town was well disposed to accepting peace at all times.
The Rector, Prof. Onu revealed that his initial intention as encapsulated in his maiden address was to make Oko like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in development and innovation.
He appealed for forgiveness for the past misunderstandings between his administration and the Oko community, stressing that detractors were feeding fat from the feud.
He regretted situations where some people were sending wrong signals to the either parties in the struggle, adding that there was no alternative to peace.
“War has never been an alternative to peace and the scars of war do nobody any good. I came with passion to transform the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, and even with the massive progress we have put in place, we could have done more if not for the negative turn out of the strained relationship,” he said.
The rector also used the opportunity to ask Dame Beatrice Ekwueme who represented the former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme at the meeting to send his candid apologies to him, saying that he has enormous respect for Dr. Ekwueme and would never do anything to despise him.
The Governing Council also paid a courtesy visit to Igwe Chika Uchime of Ufuma, another host community housing Ufuma Campus of the institution.
The council pledged to transform the place through mechanised agriculture and other academic activities.
Earlier, the members of the Governing Council were taken on a tour of the Oko campus to see the situation on ground.