Challenges And Prospects Before Prof. Chidi Felix Ezeama
By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
On August 26th, 2009, the then Chief Theodore Orji-led administration signed into law the bill establishing the Abia State College of Health sciences and Management Technology, Aba, thereby upgrading the institution to the status of a polytechnic. Also, the first Governor Council of the institution was inaugurated on the 11th November, 2009 with the current governor of the State, Okezie Ikpeazu (PhD) as the chairman.
Prior to this date, the institution, known as the School of Health, was a specialised institution offering health- related courses. The upgrade came with mounting challenges. A lot of issues needed to be addressed for the institution to wear the deserved look that suits its new status.
The institution needed to expand both in physical infrastructure and academic departments to accommodate its anticipated increase in students intake.; more departments needed to be accredited; and the graduates of the institution needed to mobilised for the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps. The gap created by these challenges and more is what the new rector of the institution; Professor Chidi Felix Ezeama has come to fill.
The Professor of Microbiology has stated his commitment to reposition the institution for optimum efficiency. Ezeama, a man whose words are his bond, is mounting intensive efforts to ensure that more departments are accredited in the institution. Already the school is offering statistics and public administration at the National Diploma level and is awaiting visitation by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) for accreditation for the Higher National Diploma.
Barring any unforeseen, in the days ahead, graduates of the institution would be mobilised for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps. Ezeama said that was his ultimate goal. He is also building synergy at a large scale with health- related institutions within and outside the state .
In anticipation of the increase in students intake in the next academic year, he is mobilising at a faster pace to attract funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to ensure that new departments are established.
Professor Ezeama’s capacity to actualise these goals is not in doubt. He has a robust track-record of achievements and is reckoned as the man with the midas touch. Right from his days at Ihie High School, Abia State he made Division one in the West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1974;University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he bagged Bachelor of Science ,BSc, (HONS) Microbiology in 1981, to University of Port- Harcourt, where he bagged both his Master of Science (MSc) and Philosophy Doctor (PhD) in Food Microbiology in 1994 and 2002 respectively, he has demonstrated high intellectual capability.
He has taught in Federal Polytechnic Bauchi; Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Uwana, where he rose to the position of a Principla Lecturer.At Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Ezeama rose to become a Senior Lecturer in 2005; Associate Professor (2007); and Professor (2010 till date).
Ezeama’s teaching career has spanned virtually all areas of microbiology such as Advanced Food Microbiology; Advanced Food Fermentation; Food Microbiology; and Food Biotechnology. Others are Microbiology of Food Products, Microbial Food Ecology, and Public Health Microbiology. He held the following positions at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike: Deputy Dean, College of Food Processing and Storage Technology (2006-2008); Acting Head, Department of Food Science and Technology (2008-2010); Head, Department of Food and Science and Technology (2011-2013).
The establishment of Abia State College of Health Technology Aba, Abia State predates Nigeria independence. The institution was established as a School of Hygiene in 1948 with the central philosophy of studies, training, research and the development of techniques in Applied Arts, Sciences, Management, Technology, Commerce and other Fields of learning.
The objectives of the institution were education and training leading to award of diploma, degrees, certificates, distinctions and other qualifications in health, scientific, technology, vocational, professional, managerial and such other manpower needs of the nation, particularly at the grassroots.The institution was to organise appropriate training programmes -courses, seminars and workshops- for such examinations set by the college or by other examining bodies that may require such consultancy services. Other objectives include to conduct research in relevant health, scientific, technological, vocational, professional and managerial disciplines. The achieve these objectives, the institution established general academic requirements for the various programmes in order to satisfy the academic and vocational/professional requirements for the various programmes of study; prepare the trainees for a variety of employment situations they may face in the future; ensure that the trainees meet the set standard for their contemporaries in similar institutions in the nation.
With Professor Chidi Felix Ezeama at the helm of affairs at ABSCOHMAT, the institution is a place for young men and women seeking successful careers in the areas of community health, public health, pharmacy, environmental health , and other health- related disciplines, public administration and statistics.