by crossriverwatch admin
Excerpt from an exclusive interview with the new Provost of Cross River State College of Education, CRSCOE Akamkpa Dr. Ejue Bassey James.
CrossRiverWatch: How many students did you matriculate?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “We matriculated 2,320 students and our experiences have always shown that we might have an alteration where by some might leave after university concludes their admission process”.
CrossRiverWatch: Prof. Owan Eno brought this college to this height what are your dreams, what do you intend to do?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “We would need to recall that I was actively involved in his administration first as the Dean School of Education which is the largest school and secondly as the Deputy Provost so the tremendous achievement Prof. Eno recorded here I considered a solid foundation and anybody who want to delude himself to say Owan Eno has finished the job, it means that person is short sighted. What he has done is to set an agenda for the college, the provost comes and goes but the college remains. For instance he has left solid infrastructure which you can see with your eyes on ground, but we need to focus on what happens inside the infrastructure for instance again we have a gigantic building for library, the building does not make the library but the content and usage so what I would do is to stuck it, sensitize students on using the library and bring it to a world standard that is by making it a standard E-Library well equipped, for the laboratories which the state government has brought to standard all that is needed is to keep it in use and well maintained by providing all the necessary items such as chemicals and we would focus on providing those things that makes it a laboratory such as the chemicals and equipment.
“However we still have new grounds to break for instance the Commissioner of Education is talking of creating an eco system in the state that is technical, education and vocation training and we as college of education charged with the mandate of producing excellent teachers, we cannot be bystanders so we need to key in early. So my initiative in this regards is to construct standard technical education workshops with facilities that will lead to production of teachers that are not only good with their hands but head”.
CrossRiverWatch: One month into office what have you observed as challenges that you intend to tackle?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “The major challenges so far are attitude and values and this is across both staff and students, I will need to tackle their attitude and values aright by first of all knowing their challenges and proffering solutions”.
CrossRiverWatch: From your speech at the Matriculation, you made us know that there are plans to upgrade the institution to a degree awarding institution, what are the areas of comparative advantage that you think deserve to start earning degrees?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “First let me clear the air about the intention to proceed and make the institution a degree awarding institution, we cannot sit here and say we want to start awarding degrees, the institution is owned by the state government and it was established by law. The law provides for the production of NCE teachers, first and foremost to change we will need approval from the state government so that state government will in turn amend the law that established the college.
“Now when that is achieved we would now overture regulatory bodies like NUC and NCCE who will now come and look at our facilities and man power and together will agree that these are the areas you will commence degree programs because we cannot afford to produce people who are half baked. So it is too early to sit in the day to say this are the areas we have comparative advantage until we do a proper needs assessment and appraisal”.
CrossRiverWatch: Funding remains a very big challenge to institutions like this, what creative areas would you like to go into to assist the state government?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “You see there is one area not largely exploited, that is keying to charity/philanthropic money, and development partners are there in the world with funding. So first and foremost to answer your question, I would want to establish an area for linkages and entrepreneurship with the purpose of accessing donor funds as a means of creating funding to support and complement the government’s efforts”.
CrossRiverWatch: Over the years what has been the relationship between the host community and the institution?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “The host community has a cordial relationship with the college and we thank them for giving government the opportunity to serve this college well, however there was a time that part of the college land was encroached into and there was negotiation of some sort that led to government ceding the part where the St. Theresa primary School is situated, the ministry of lands have delineated the area so what we want to do is to immediately begin perimeter fencing.
“Now you know that the funds we have we would want to apply them directly to things that have to do with teaching and learning so we are going to overture the quarry communities in Akamkpa and appeal for them to give us materials like stone, sand and even cement if possible, we don’t want money we would mould blocks and begin perimeter fencing from the troubled areas”.
CrossRiverWatch: Sir, I must commend you for re-opening the school amidst the fact that the national body of College of Education Academic Staff Union, COEASU is on strike, don’t you think they might penalize your chapter?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “You see, we respect the wishes of the union, local or national now if you study the national demand you will find that some have no bearing with state institutions like when they talk about their resistance to E-Payment, another demand which is the implementation of the current salary scale for colleges of education and we were quite lucky because Governor Liyel Imoke was one of the first to implement it.
“No doubt our local union have one, two, three demands: condition of service which the governing council had approved, and they were also agitating for copies and during that period we made sure copies were given to them, they equally requested that the retirement age of 65 approved by the federal government for college of education be reflected on their pay slip, we overture the state government using the relevant ministries, departments and agencies and that has reflected. The only issue left is to implement their last promotion exercise.
“Now they had three local demands and we have met two and actions are being taken to meet the other, I would not want to make public what the governor told me in confidence but I assure that actions are being taken to meet the one left. After which I met with the union heads and explained things to them, they went back to their congress and agreed that I should be given three months to fix things up and its barely one month we have addressed two. That is why I am not worried that the national union will come here and want to picket anyone but rather should applaud the proprietor of the college for addressing these issues before time”.
CrossRiverWatch: Behind your office and in other places in the college compound there are uncompleted buildings can you throw more light on them?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “Those buildings have been there since inception of the Cross River State School for Basic Studies, I would like to emphasize that when Prof Eno administration came on board he decided to complete some and put to use. If you look at the staff demonstration school both primary and secondary and the Information and Communication Technology, ICT complex they were uncompleted buildings renovated and put to use, my administration too aims at continuing with that legacy and for the one beside me, I just got it cleared for the director of works to go in and look at its state of integrity and see if it can still be put to use which he has assured me can be used and we shall use it”.
CrossRiverWatch: Lastly sir, what message would you say per significance is your first matriculation?
Dr. Ejue Bassey James: “For me it’s not just the ceremony of welcoming the new students but an opportunity for them to read my body language and lips, for instance when I mentioned that for those with secret intention to join cults and other groups to misbehave we have zero tolerance, I meant every word”.
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