BY OGENNA OKORO KALU

The very first day he resumed as Provost of Abia State College of Education, Technical, Arochukwu,,in 2016, he shed tears because of the sheer deplorable state of the institution. After a tour of the college, Dr Philips Nto was astounded that the school which was established in 1993 was nothing more than a glorified secondary school. Apart from a sprinkle of old buildings left at the old Aggrey Memorial College, there was nothing to suggest that the place was housing an institution of higher learning.

But determined to reverse the fortune of the college, Dr Philips Nto,a former Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning rolled up his sleeves and embarked upon a journey which today has totally transformed ASCETA from the squalid it was to the real citadel of learning both in academic and infrastructure that it is now.

Starting from the environment, Dr Philips Nto commenced with the clearance of the overgrown grasses which had overtaken the entire premises, constituting harm to both Staff and students through dangerous reptiles.

Upon a review of the academic programmes in the institution, the new Provost discovered that most of the courses and programmes had lost accreditation from the relevant authorities. Within a short period of time,he rectified the issue, making it possible for students to pursue courses of their choice, knowing that they would graduate.

Dr Philips Nto also discovered that for many years, the college had not organized any matriculation or graduation ceremony. Added to that, no graduate of the institution since inception had ever received the original certificate of the college. Within a short time, the new Provost attended to those challenges,thus ensuring that anyone who graduates without any issue receives his or her certificate immediately.

The new Provost also focussed his attention on the affliation of the college with Abia State University. Apart from strengthening that relationship, Dr Philips Nto leveraged on his relationship with Michael Okpara University of Agriculture,Umudike and achieved a sustainable affliation with it also for the award of degrees to students of ASCETA.

Indeed, after attending to the academic needs of ASCETA, Dr Philips Nto turned his attention to the infrastructural development of the college. For the first time, he connected the school to the national grid. It wasn’t long that he procured a 500kva transformer for the institution.

To make the hostels habitable, Dr Philips Nto embarked upon a total rehabilitation of the hostels with the requisite infrastructure like potable water and electricity,and street lights to serve the students. He also ensured that the hostels and the entire college was protected to end the ugly incidents of thefts and sexual assault on students which were prevalent before now.

Those who visited ASCETA in 2016 when Dr Philips Nto took over as Provost were taken aback few years after owing to the gangatuan infrastructural leap that has taken place there. Gigantic, quality storey buildings now dot the landscape of the college. All schools in the college now have their brand new building housing lecture halls and offices. These include , School of Business Education, School of Science Educate, School of of Arts and Social Sciences and School of General Studies. Others are School of Education,,Centre for Continuing Education and Degree Programmes,College Auditorium,College Library, Modern Fish pond and Hatchery and Provost office among other science and education technology equipment. ASCETA also now has the most imposing library East of the Niger courtesy of the administration of Dr Philips Nto.

Incidentally,all the buildings, theatre halls and laboratories including science and sports equipment were funded by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund ( TETFUND). Before Dr Philips Nto assumed office, TETFUND had blacklisted the institution because of the mismanagement of its funds by previous administration. For Dr Philips Nto, the challenge was surmountable,hence he sourced funds independently to complete all projects earlier abandoned and for which TETFUND blacklisted the institution.

That singular visionary action paved the way for TETFUND to return to ASCETA with the extraordinary infrastructure revolution which remains unprecedented in the history of the college. It is instructive that when some journalists visited the college recently, they named Dr Philips Nto as Mr Project. They were impressed by the academic and infrastructural development in ASCETA and canvassed that it be converted to a university.

To prepare the Staff for the envisioned transition, many of them have been sent overseas for training while others are also being trained locally to enhance their capacity.

For Dr Philips Nto, nothing would make him fulfilled than seeing ASCETA transformed into a university. While handing over to his successor , Mr Ikechkwu Okorouga recently, the former Provost pleaded with Gov Alex Otti to pay attention to ASCETA especially on staff welfare and the conversion of the college to a University. He however urged the staff to continue to pray for the success of the new administration so that Abia will be better. It is also necessary to commend Chief T A Orji(Ochendo Global) who first exposed Dr Nto to public office by appointing him a commissioner. Equally,the immediate past Governor of the State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu deserves commendation for appointing and reappointing Dr Nto as Provost of ASCETA.

To demonstrate his love for ASCETA, Dr Philips Nto ensured that the fencing of the entire college, the installation of a befitting gate and landscaping which he attracted before leaving the institution are executed. To the glory of God, and the instrumentality of TETFUND which bent backwards to approve the projects because of the integrity of the former Provost, contractors have now mobilized to site to realize the projects as Dr Philips Nto’s parting gift to an institution he served with the zeal of St Paul.

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