One Year in Office: Rebranding, Rejuvenating, Repositioning.. …Celebrating the great feats of the ‘silent achiever’ Rector of Nigeria-Korea Friendship Institute
By AKADIRI ADEMOLA EMMANUEL
‘’I will hit the ground running’’.
A very familiar cliche made mostly by new executives who have been newly elevated to a new position and seemingly charged with the responsibility of steering the affairs of a nation, a state, an institution or a system. Although not in all cases is this sacred promises matched with positive outcomes and the reason is not far fetched, often times many individuals in the custody of responsibility fail to match such highly promising statement with laudable actions. Hence followers have always been sceptical and suspecious with its usage. However, the story of Rector of the Nigeria-Korea friendship institute, Williams Charles Oluwatoyin has not been so narrated.
Upon appointment on on 5th of September, 2022 and assumption of office as the Rector of the prestigious institution of vocational and technical learning, William Charles Oluwatoyin, with such a passionate burden saw the need to rebrand, rejuvenate and reposition the School in a bid to enhance its maximal delivery as an Institution of great national repute and international standard, with a desire of nurturing young employable youths, that are industrially relevant. To achieve Such result required not just making a blank statement of hope and ephemeral promises but dogged action to put to work wealth of experience and available resources.
The Rector who himself is replete with a background of vocational and technical education, was amazed at the level of invisibility the school was experiencing despite the hugely invested and availability of technical and human resources. The institute could boast of machineries which were not available in many contemporary higher institutions of learning and
could only be found in full scale industrial settings, many of which were with the intent of employing those with hands on experience in specific areas of learning and industrial functionability. In fact in every department of the institute including; Electrical Electronic Technology, Welding and Fabrication, Automotive Mechatronics, computer software engineering, Networking and system security, practical learning is given 70% of the curriculum and were never lacking in the required training facility and well trained instructors. This discovery led to a resolution on the part of the Rector with the full support of the Governing council and the management alongside it sponsoring partner I.e Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) that the institute must be given an accurate image it deserves in the public’s eye.
The Institute and it’s partnering sponsors, KOICA and Kogi state Government had the resolution to ensure that the public were abreast with the knowledge of this great and all important institute of vocational and Technical learning. According to the Rector this effort was garnered towards many end results that revolved around publicity, public positive perception, public information and all summed up to the positive positioning of the institute and facilitate more student’s interest in enrolling with the institute. In the early days of his resumption, the Rector, who is also a trained media personnel was all out on vast publicity efforts. The effort resulted to an increase in the enquiries in several quarters. Within his first 100- days, through aggressive media and personal engagements, the institute had an historic 120% growth rate in the population of its student and a surge in enquiries, even from persons from outside Kogi state. With a resounding understanding of the role and relevance of technology and the need for it’s activity to be standardised and go beyond the immediate shores of its environment, the Rector facilitated the designing and launch of the institute’s website for the first time since its establishment which would facilitate a wider visibility. The institute also rebranded four massive billboards to advertise. All of these yielded positive fruits. Beyond some of the publicity strides and visibility activities were efforts towards the physical aesthetics of the institute which is located along Felele express road; a very busy commercial transitory nerve of the Lokoja, the institute got a new look and an overhauling facelift which have enhanced learning ease and efficiency. The Rector recalled that on resumption, the Institute could be best described as a forest where weeds had overgrown the institute’s premises, but the story changed almost immediately under the leadership of Williams Charles Oluwatoyin.
While there are several key indicators which have reflected on how promising the now and future of Nigeria-Korea Friendship Institute would be, It was realised that all that was required were certain measure of success, good testimonies and track records which would re introduce a pump of life into the system as the institute sets its coordinates towards greater impacts. Re introducing life into the NKFI required very deliberate efforts and such was the immediate steps taken by the Rector. Aside from the continued commitment shown by its partners i.e The Korean International Cooperation Agency, the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello have shown its priorities in the education sector to be Science and technology without necessarily ruling out every other sectors of academic pursuit. This singular disposition by the New Direction Government alongside the very kind partners of NKFI were greatly tapped into by the Rector, which harbingered great feats recorded under, Williams Charles Oluwatoyin’s Rectorship in the shortest time. It is pertinent to say that leadership and indeed the right kind of leadership, remains the first step in getting things right and Williams Oluwatoyin was the right kind of leadership that the institute required.
One of the most immediate success was re enlisting the NKFI on the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) portal a situation which had not existed for a very long time. This singular effort ensured that the process of seeking and getting admission into the institute became standardised and applicant could directly choose the institute as their most preferred option just like every other institute across the country. NKFI within a year of William Charles leadership also incorporated accessibility of the results online, from any location, signalling another step towards standardisation of operations. The Institute also under the foresight of the Rector, who desired to align with the growing trend of remote learning, particularly in areas that were 21st century Information, Communication and Technology oriented, some of the courses introduced in the span of 6-months included, professional certifications in Cybersecurity, Scrum Master and Project management, Artisans were also given the opportunity to also upgrade their skills at the institute. The institute also commenced training in areas of photography, cinematography and editing. All of these deliberate activities were received warmly by the public many of whom not only made enquiries into enlisting in some of the programmes but referring the institutes to families and friends. Changing the narrative of NKFI a one-time almost invisible institute into the talk of the town.
Once the pulse of activities were felt across board, private organisations, traditional institutions, government agencies, formal institutes who prior to now would not pay attention to the institute began to indicate interest in partnership and profitable collaboration. One unique thing that the Rector has achieved in this one year run is stirring the aroma of the stew of the institute to a very desirable appetite which has spurred many to want to eat of its delicacy. Similarly, his openness to consistently reach out to relevant stakeholders was significantly yielding great returns. In the last one year, the school were offered very profitable Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) by several private organisation, NGOs, etc. Many of these MOUs were tailored towards partnership of mutual benefits between both parties involved, for the students and in all these realities were non existing until when Williams Charles Oluwatoyin decided to pump energy into the institute.
When the Rector resumed office, another commitment he made was to look into the issue of staff motivations and salaries which he noted would go a very long way in the actualisation of the vision of the institute in attaining desired relevance. Although the Rector immediately got the approval for payment of some inherited internally accumulated arrears for staff which had lingered for over two years, after thorough review. However, this was only the first step towards achieving the long time desire of the staff of the institute. In trying to get a good grasp of enlisting the staff of the institute on the tertiary institution salary scale, a reality that was accomplished in less that one year of William Charles Oluwatoyin’s Rectorship. Although ground work was laid by the previous Rector, the sheer determination of the Rector, assured that the paper works, approval and implementation was done graciously in the nick of time. What heralded the announcement of the implementation of the tertiary institution salary scale was wild jubilation on the campus of the institute. In the testimony of one of the institute’s staff, Mr. Sunday Ogwuche, the Head of Department, Electrical and Electronics gave kudos to the state governor for granting listening ears to the plight of the staff of the institute as presented by the able Rector which ensured that the Tertiary institution scale was not just an approval but implementation and a solid end point. He added that such feet which was deemed impossible by previous leaders of the institute had since become a reality.
In the areas of academic exploits, the institution in the last one year under the leadership of Williams Charles Oluwatoyin has created a Directorate of Student services (DSS), converted Automotive Mechatronic from a Certificate program to a National innovative Diploma program, secured profitable collaboration with the Confluence University of Science and Technology (CUSTECH), Osara, Kogi state Polytechnic and Other renowned institutions even across Africa. The Institute also held its 3rd Matriculation / Orientation of 2022/2023 regular students after a long while an event which signified adherence to best academic practices. Under the leadership of Rector of NKFI, the institute is not strange to witty and 21st century relevant inventions. The announcement of an invention of a PC Trainer technology which according to the institute could simulate hardware faults allowing students to easily understand and diagnose any type of computer faults and administer repairs rank among the list of its contribution to the world of Science and Technology. In an announcement made in October 2022 by the Head of Information Communication Technology Department, Mr. Haruna Atabor Christopher, he hinted that the indigenous invention which was spearheaded by lecturers of the department was a rare advancement in computer hardware training across the globe.
In what could be described as another attestation of the benefits the institute portends to its students the testimony of two graduates from the Nigeria-Korea Friendship institute who were offered mouth watery job employment offers at the Grand Cereal Limited (GCL), a subsidiary of UAC Nigeria PLC, following a specific indication of interest by the organisation in the graduates of the institute for a trainee program fits in perfectly.
In a very rare event, earlier in march, 2023 Grand Cereal Limited expressed intention to recruit best graduates from NKFI for their one-year Technical Traineeship Programme with the aim of equipping them with the right competencies to assume technical roles with an offering of automatic employment upon completion. The manufacturing organisation in their earlier correspondence revealed that NKFI was highly recommended as an institute that provides one of the best technical graduates in the region, hence their decision to enter into a long term partnership of sourcing for competent hands for their organisation. The two students as detailed in their letter of appointment dated May 22 titled ”Appointment as Technical Trainee in Grand Cereals Limited’’ were billed to resume on June 1 in Jos Plateau state to Salary and Allowances of grossly over N500, 000 monthly take home.
The Rector hinted that many more of such opportunities were readily available for students who go through the institute because of its reputable positioning in producing ready made graduates that can easily fit into specific roles in an manufacturing organisation locally or globally, boasting that no students of NKFI would remained unemployed or not engaged upon graduation, owing to the level of real world knowledge impacted.
In an unprecedented event, the management of the institute under the searchlight of the Rector, identified three talented young students who built SUV jeeps during their school exhibition. These three gifted and innovative students of Saint Peters College Idah, Kogi state, were awarded automatic scholarships by the management of Korea – Nigeria Friendship Institute (NKFI). The Rector, while giving the students and their Principal a tour of the instructional facilities in the school, emphasised the importance of aiding them to further develop their talents for the betterment of society, He clarified that the school’s mandate is not solely revenue generation but primarily to combat unemployment and build the capacity of youths for a better society.
Worthy of note that in all of these landmark strides of the Rector, one year seemed like half of a decade. Most often than not 365 is what most administrators use to settle in on the role newly given, but just as earlier stated in the case of William Charles Oluwatoyin, ‘I will hit the ground running’ meant running with the speed of lighting and with the precision of a skilful arrow shooter, they never miss the mark.
With the passage of time, one question beckons for answers, where will NKFI be in the next few years ? The good news is that in very recent time during his historical visit to the Confluence state, former President Muhammadu Buhari announced that his administration has settled debts running to millions of dollars which stalled the resuscitation of Ajaodkuta Steel factory and gave the assurance that his administration would see to it that kogi State becomes steel manufacturing power house as activities was billed to soon commence at the billion dollar factory.
The factory which is estimated to generate billions in revenue annually would also employ over 500,000 youths. The President Bola Ahmed Tinubu leadership is even more keen on revisiting the moribund factory and his administration’s recent appointment of Mr. Shaibu Audu Abubakar is a strong pointer towards actualising this desire.
NKFI has strategically positioned itself to tap maximally from the opportunity soon to be delivered. Just like this Industrial hub and a giant steel company, several others like that exist in several part of the country, in part of Africa and even globally.
The surge in unemployment in the country Nigeria have taken several unpleasant shapes and governments over decades despite making efforts to resolve the long standing concerns, unemployment has consistently gone from bad to worse with recent rating rising significantly to 33% as presented by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Stakeholders have continued to link the high unemployment indices to many possibilities ranging from the complaint that most of the graduates being churned out yearly from the numerous higher institution of learning are largely unemployable; most often do not possess the needed real life skills despite acquiring certification from the field of academic sojourn.
The Nigeria-Korea Friendship Institute of Vocational and Advanced Technology is the answer to many question raised by stakeholders. With a vision of becoming a top-class technical and vocational institute in Nigeria, focused on inculcating vocational competence and providing industry-specific employable skills to serve as an economic development catalyst for Nigeria, this gives credence to the desires of organizations including manufacturing and production giants to have ready made products that could add efficiency to their operations.
With Williams Charles at the helms of affairs, NKFI’s glory days is so near. In what could be described as yet another giant leap, the institute which has since witnessed remarkable repositioning under the leadership of Williams Charles Oluwatoyin is set for accreditation after many year following an announcement of the approval of funds to undertake this all important task by the state’s commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hon. Wemi Jones. Just in one year, many great deals has been achieved. It is best to imagine the story to be told of the institute with more years of the silent achiever, Rector per excellence, Williams Charles Oluwatoyin.