In the words of an American business magnate and co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, “Innovation distinguish-es a leader and a follower.” Since his assumption of office as Provost in September, 2017, Dr. Umar Hassan has left no one in doubt of the capacity of his leadership’s dexterity and genuine love to reposition the College for greatness; with his innovative approach to leadership
Similarly, John Maxwell, an American author and Speaker, posited that “the pessimist complains about wind, the optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Dr. Umar Hassan’s philosophy since assumption of duty is anchored on change and adjusting the administrative machinery of the College to achieve the ultimate goal of taking the College to the next level of academic growth and infrastructural development. .
His leadership style is distinct and unique in transparency, accountability, openness, staff inclusiveness and regular consultations with stakeholders and unions on policy formulation and implementation. The open-door policy of his administration is uncommon in the annals of the College and that has significantly helped in dousing the seemingly tensed atmosphere and ill-feelings generated during the transition period, hence building tremendous confidence, goodwill and support for the administration within and outside the College.
In the last two years, huge successes have been recorded in the academic front in spite of the lean resources at the disposal of the College; as critical policy decisions were taken in stabilizing the system, with quick interventions, among which are, organizing of resource visit for the newly introduced progammes of History, Geography, Economics and Adult and Non-Formal Education, which consequently led to the accreditation of the latter (Adult and Non-Formal education). The political science department was also created as part of the administration’s determination to attain the set noble vision and mission of the College and to key into NCCE reforms and in consonance with societal demands. The undergraduate Programme also went through a successful monitoring exercise by the National Universities Commission (N.U.C.).
Similarly, two new schools were created, the School of Adult, Non-Formal and special Education and the school of Early Childhood Care and Primary Education. In addition, the existing academic directorates were restructured for greater efficiency and service delivery, with the creation of additional one. Also, significant impact have been recorded in the area of research and academic development, as the College now accesses Tetfund’s manuscripts development intervention that was hitherto inaccessible some couple of years back.
Remarkably, one of the landmark innovations of Dr. Umar Hassan’s administration has been his capacity and ability for efficient lobbying. He has effectively galvanized his wealth of experience in mobilizing and engaging other organizations of government, corporate agencies and individuals, by attracting meaningful projects that have direct bearings on the academic and infrastructural development of the College. This is a complete departure from the past when projects in the College were majorly sponsored by Tetfund’s intervention. Currently, the following projects are at various stages of completion:
– Construction of 1 storey building complex for Early Childhood Care, Primary, Adult and Non-Formal Education, with external works 90% completion
– Construction of twin-200 seatter Auditorium with external works – 70% completion
– Construction of 1 storey building block of 8 (Eight) classroom complex – 70% completion
– Construction of 1 storey building for school of Languages lecturer’s office complex – 80% completion
– Completion of 2 VIP toilets with borehole facilities (students integrity project) – completed.
In addition, work is on going on the construction of a befitting administrative building, which when completed is expected to bring to an end the lingering problem of acute office accommodation confronting the non-teaching staff, most especially, the administrative officers and by extension enhance their productive capacities in service delivery. Similarly, construction work of hostel building for the female students is also on going.
In the same vein, 45 (forty five) solar powered street lights have been installed. Other projects include; the drilling of 2 (two) solar powered boreholes and accessories, one each in male and female hostels, drilling of motorized borehole in the staff Quarters, Asphalt overlay on about 1.2km stretch of road network, and the donation of 3 (three) tricycle motor bike to the College.
Another critical area of Dr. Umar Hassan administration’s intervention has been in the maintenance of existing infrastructure which had not been rehabilitated since the establishment of the College in 1974. That goes a long way to explain the level of decay of such facilities.
In this wise, the following projects were given a face lift; the main campus and staff quarters overhead tanks were rehabilitated, thereby preserving the volume of water pumped from wastages; as over 60% of water are lost prior the rehabilitation due to the dilapidated states of the overhead tanks.
De-silting of the College main drainage network has also helped in the control of surface water-run off, which previously has caused the washing off of the road network and erosion at some points. There is also the installation of solar panels/submersibles that supply water to surface reservoirs in the main campus and staff quarters. This has allowed for continuous pumping of water to the reservoirs and also reduced tremendously the use of diesel fuel to power the boreholes.
Issues of staff welfare and human development as the fulcrum of productivity and efficient service delivery have continued to receive priority attention of Dr. Umar Hassan’s administration. Having inherited huge financial liabilities arising from promotion arrears of 2015 and 2016, it is worthy of note that 22 months of 2015 have been cleared, while 10 months from 2018 had also been paid. Remarkably too, 2018 and 2019 promotions were effected and financially implemented. Similarly, as at December, 2017, all salary arrears were cleared. Furthermore, contentious issues concerning the payment of arrears of peculiar Academic Non-teaching allowances have been put to rest with the implementation and payment of accrued arrears. Also, there is a vigorous campaign on staff training and development for optimum results and self-realization, which has given rooms and opportunities to more qualified members of staff to be sponsored for higher degrees; especially for Masters and Doctorate degrees. Many others had also benefitted for first degrees and Higher National Diplomas. It is worthy of note that while the sponsorship of academic staff is driven by Tetfund, the non-teaching staff are being locally sponsored by the College.
Dr. Umar Hassan led administration had in the last two years sponsored a total of 133 staff for further studies, 45 academics and 78 non-teachings. Furthermore, 174 staff members had also enjoyed Tetfund sponsored Conferences and workshops. These, are in addition to other laudable initiatives that are been explored to boost the morals and productive level of staff.
Other critical areas such as students’ welfare and College Community Relations also received priority attentions of the administration. The College Community in its entirety has been made conducive and well secured for effective teaching and learning, as basic amenities like water and electricity are never compromised. The College medical Centre is now better positioned in providing the required services, as drugs and other medical facilities are provided to cater for health challenges of the students and staff. As a matter of priority, the students’ friendly policy of the administration has further opened up the College, by making education easily accessible to the students and prospective students alike. The College charges the lowest fees without compromising standards.
Without mincing words, Federal College of Education, Okene, remains the cheapest in terms of fees payable when compared to other sister Colleges in Nigeria. Interestingly, the relationship between the Management and the Students Union has been very cordial. Activities of the student Union such as elections are peacefully conducted without any form of interference. In the same vein, a serviceable vehicle was provided for the operational needs of the student Union Government. Remarkably, these laudable efforts did not go unnoticed, when on 28th of March, 2018, the umbrella body of the
students, National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), passed a vote of confidence on his administration, by issuing certificate of commendation as Agent of Educational Transformation.
Under the pragmatic leadership of Dr. Umar Hassan, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Community Relations is been repositioned to take a centre stage. Aside from employment opportunities and other forms of assistance to the immediate College Community, empowerment facilities and trainings are being provided for members of the immediate and larger community to enhance their social status. These efforts have continued to yield positive results for the sustenance of peace and mutual co-existence with the immediate community. Even though it is not yet uhuru, there are strong and undeniable indications that F.C.E., Okene is set for the next level of greatness.
Undoubtedly, in the last two years there have been remarkable indices to justify Dr. Umar Hassan’s administration as being truly impactful judging by his genuine stance and principles of being consistently open and transparent, honest, firm and flexible, and of course, focused and determined to lead the College to the next level of academic growth and infrastructural development.
Deducing from the foregoing, it is convincingly convenient to forecast that the achievements recorded within just two years, to say the least, are tips of the iceberg of the giant strides that shall be unfolding in the years ahead.