An assessment tour of the upgraded fa cilities at the hitherto abandoned site of the Government Technical College at Ikot Ada-Idem in Ibiono Ibom LGA of Akwa Ibom State reveals an undiluted desire and strong commitment by the present state government to reinvent the lost glory/advantages of scientific and technology education, which forms the bedrock of development in any modern society. For over 20 years now, that Government Technical College had remained shut without any nature of academic activities, but structures like classroom blocks, dormitory blocks and fantastic mechanical and electrical equipment, as well as the Home Economics facilities that jointly aided academic excellence of students of the legendary technical institution, are still intact. In all these years, technical college at Ikot Ada-Idem had churned out brilliant and great technologists as well as scientists who are in charge of multi-million naira firms, as well as major government establishments, but these icons of technology globally are currently lacking a reference place to show as their alma mata, because the institution had not been in existence over the past two decades. But what actually caused the sudden closure of the institution that was creating waves in technological education across the state and beyond? Could the closure come as a result of students' strike-action or hostility of the host community towards the school authority? This was the question this writer sought answer from residents of the college vicinity under a geographical area known as southern Ibiono Ibom. The youth president of Ikot Ada-Idem village, Mr Godswill Monday Michael, who doubles as the acting youth president of southern Ibiono Ibom, said the technical college witnessed no rift of whatever kind from its host community throughout its glorious days as one of the schools in the state. Rather, he attributed the unexpected closure of the college to what he termed politicization strategy of that era. According to him, in the year 2000 there was a deliberate effort by government to elevate the technical college to Akwa Ibom State Institute of Technology, possibly with the view to operating it side-by-side with the polytechnic at Ikot Osurua in Ikot Ekpene. After a period of six months, Mr Godswill Michael narrated that the proposed Institute of Technology was changed and a new idea to turn the place to a Faculty of Engineering under the Polytechnic at Ikot Osurua, came up, possibly because of the existence of sophisticated engineering equipment left behind by the technical college. Precisely, that is what happened. "My community often welcomed developmental projects when opportunity presents iself, the youth leader stated, even as he drew attention to the fact that "none of my community members have stolen the left-over colleges equipment in the last 20 years'. This shows how sincere and committed we are to the existence of the technical college. He lauded the sincerity of Governor Udom Emmanuel, who has shown his people the love and concern to turn around the place which is now wearing a new look with renovated buildings. Similarly, the village head of Asanting Ibiono and spokesperson for southern Ibiono Ibom, Etedung Ime Udoaka, on his side, reminiscences: "We have assessed ourselves on what could have caused the school to be shut for such a long period, but without any trace of wrong-doing from the host community. According to the traditional father, "What we noticed then was a systematic transfer and withdrawals of key staff of the college to Ikot Osurua Polytechnic in a manner that indicated a hidden agenda against the existence of the college which was like a precious stone to this community. Chief Udoaka referred this writer to one Mr Etok-Akpan of Ikot Ebom Itam in Itu, LGA, who served as the last principal of Technical School Ikot Ada-Idem for enhanced version of how the school folded up. But the man could not be located in spite of frantic efforts to that effect. Whatever might have caused the crippling of the technical college at Ikot AdaIdem, it might not be too significant in the minds of the community any more. But what is most prevalent in the people's reasoning presently, is the jinx broken by Governor Udom Emmanuel by breathing fresh air into the college through the massive construction of the buildings that had collapsed due to many years of abandonment by previous administrations in the state. It is on record that pleas borne out of patriotism were at various instances made by prominent sons/daughters of Ibiono Ibom for the reactivation of the technical college, but to no avail. A retrospective look at the legions of appeals from Professor Antiabong Ekong, who was commissioner for education under Obong Victor Attah, Mr Ignatius Kelvin Edet, speaker of the State House of Assembly, whose house in the village is a few poles from the college, or even his successor as Ibiono Ibom State Constituency, Mr Ime Okon, or Obong Godwin Ekpo, former executive chairman of Ibiono Ibom, now, House of Assembly member who is an ex-student of the college nor the royal cry of the paramount ruler of Ibiono Ibom was able to make the desired change of fortune in the college, until Governor Udom Emmanuel came as the people savivour to change the tide. Government Technical School, Ikot AdaIdem, hitherto seen as an all time dilapidated environment associated with Bakkassi returnees as it dwellers, also served as a dwelling place for itinerant herdsmen, is now a place to
Talking about societal demands and government initiated project, the case of Ikot Ada-Idem community and government's position indicate a unanimous resolve for the establishment of a technological driven centre at the former college site. But the overwhelming desire of the host community seems to suggest the bringing back of a full fledged technical college, with the incorporation of skill acquisition to the programme of the college. Chief Ime Udoaka, Mr Godswill Monday Michael and Mr Gospel Akpanobong, a businessman, who are all indigenes of the community, appreciated the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel for the massive renovation work done in the college so far, but appealed to him to direct the state Ministry of Education to initiate programme of activities for the immediate opening of academic work come September 2020. "We are pleading that whatever name the school might be called, it should still reflect the technical line because we have witnessed the strides in various human endeavour made by the products of then Technical College, hence we desire a replication of the strides, Chief Ime Udoaka, the village head of Asanting Ibiono appealed. Chief Udoaka also pleaded that the school project be complemented with the opening of the Cardinal Ekanem Avenue, a road directly opposite the college, to open up the school's vicinity for more students intakes. Mr Gospel Akpanobong, who was full of praise to Governor Udom Emmanuel for bringing a lifeline to the college after so many years of duldrums, said: "We wish the school to be inaugurated for next academic year, with its original status as technical college, while skill acquisition should be annexed to its programmes. Even as he reasoned further that certificate issued by a technical college, is respected in today's Nigeria than that of skill acquisition tag. The youth leader of Ikot Ada Idem, the immediate host of the technical college, expressed optimism that the school gates will certainly be opened for academic work this year and thanked the administration of Governor Emmanuel for his kind gesture in deliveries democracy dividends to his people with the reopening of the technical college. He lauded the special adviser to the governor on security matters for helping to maintain the security of the college, especially by enlisting an indigene of the community to be part of the security team at the college's site currently. In view of the huge amount committed into the project so far, the people appealed for immediate utilization of the college's facilities, at least, to prevent some frustrated persons under the excuse of COVID-19 hardship from causing any vandalization or pilfering of the structures already put in place in the college, even as they pledged to protect the structures jealously immediately the college is inaugurated.
behold with beautifully remodeled edifices, ready for serious academic work any moment from now. A visit to the college indicates that Governor Udom Emmanuel administration is not bogged down by the COVID-19 pandemic palava, which seems to gulp the entire sources of funds available to government at the moment. From the point of entry (gate) into the school, it is a clear signal that fresh life/light has arrived to brighten the path for greatness again within the community. The gate is painted, the administrative blocks, school blocks, etc are brought up to the standard that can bequeath an ambient environment for learning at whatever level. A peep through the class windows shows tastily furnished classrooms with writing desks adorning the spacious classrooms, sophisticated mechanical equipment being remnants or left-over of the technical college's property of over 20 years ago. Prototype tractors which students used to demonstrate practical experience of how it works, are still there, electrical installation device machines and Home economics instructional materials with a sound proofed generator, said to have been bought by the present government to test-run the machinery in the abandoned college are all intact. Little wonder why the Ikot Ada_Idem youth president jokeingly told this writer: "We the youths of this community deserve accolade for protecting these heavy machineries from possible theft/vandalism in a period of 20 years. But the colleges compound, is not under good maintenance as grasses are now competing their heights with the beautiful building blocks. The few tarred roads accessing the school are now covered with grasses too, thereby demeaning the good intention of the government whose resolve is to equip the place for skill acquisition centre with foreign partnership support. Yes, technology acquisition requires partnership with major stakeholders. As such, current science and technology related studies are rapidly becoming clearer that what is being conceived and constructed majorly involves methods of programmed installation which usually involves manual and computer aided systems. As everybody, especially the Ikot Ada-Idem people, anxiously awaits the commencement of academic activities within the renovated college's vicinity, a solid foundation ought to be in place to avert another unexpected policy twist that can affect the school's progress again,. Therefore, it is worthy to note that a basic requirement for the realization of the goal of technological and vocational studies is anchored on adequate knowledge of what is to be achieved, what is to be installed and what are the capabilities required for the proper installation of positive change with great impartation of societal demands