Akwa Ibom State, one of the 36 States of the Federation, was excised from the Cross River State in 1987. Prior to its emergence as a State, Uyo, the Capital of Akwa Ibom State hosted the main campus of the University of Cross River State. This University ceased to exist in 1992, when the Federal Government established in its place, the Federal University of Uyo. In this regard, it is on record that almost all the newly-created States in Nigeria had either been operating, or had made plans for the establishment of their own Universities. There are 31 State Universities in Nigeria, with Akwa Ibom State seriously challenged by the unenviable status of a wealthy latecomer. It will be recalled too that prior to the emergence of institutions for higher education in Nigeria, the people of Akwa Ibom State had pioneered the movement for the creation of States in Nigeria and had also established a secondary school, the Ibibio State College, in 1946. Furthermore, Akwa Ibom people were the first indigenous group in Nigeria and in the whole world to sponsor their students for higher education overseas, when they awarded scholarships in 1938, for studies in the United Kingdom and the United States America, in various fields including agriculture, education, medicine and law. Indeed the people of Akwa Ibom State have been noted, from the earliest beginnings of the nation, for their unrelenting quest and unquenchable thirst for quality education at all levels, hence the present strong desire to establish one of the leading centres of excellence in Nigeria.
HISTORICAL BRIEFS ON THE FOUNDING OF THE UNIVERSITY (2000-2007)
It is with these considerations in mind that the Committee for the Establishment of the Akwa Ibom State University of Technology, which was inaugurated by the Executive Governor of the State on 18th October 2000, addressed its assignment as embodied in the Terms of Reference presented to it on the occasion. The Committee had as its Chairman, Professor Ephraim E. Okon, OFR, a professor of engineering analysis of the University of Lagos and a retired permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Abuja. The Terms included the following:
i. To undertake the feasibility study for the establishment of the Akwa Ibom State University of Technology; ii. To propose a permanent site for the University; iii. To prepare a relevant Science and Technology curriculum for the University; iv. To identify on Faculty basis, the required resources, plant, machinery, equipment and other physical facilities for the smooth take-off of the University; v. To identify the sources and conditions for attracting the best practicing professional Science and Technology staff namely, scientists, technologists, educationists, engineers and administrators to the University; vi. To determine the relationship and linkages between the proposed University and the existing tertiary educational institutions in the State. Furthermore, the Committee was to address in the course of its work, what may be considered to be the major socio-economic problem of the State which is its transformation from a "Civil Service State", in which over 90% of people in paid employment are employees in the State Civil Service, to an "Industrialized Society", especially given the prevailing situation of a near absence of an industrial sector and an associated culture of organized private enterprises. An appraisal of the trend in the development of higher education in Nigeria reveals that generally the major focus of the vision and mission of the Universities has been the development of high-level manpower with the expectation that the products of these institutions would be adequately equipped to effectively contribute to the socio-economic advancement of the nation. While this approach to tertiary education may find some justification for programmes in the humanities, social sciences and allied fields, there appears to be little inclination to modify this basic philosophy in the area of Science and Technology, even in the technological institutions, in the present circumstances of a global movement towards a knowledge-driven economy in which the socio-economic advancement of developing nations are anchored on technology- based industrial effort. Given the expectations of the Government and the people of Akwa Ibom State, along with the resource endowments of the State, it became clear to the Committee that the University would make a meaningful and sustainable positive intervention in the socio-economic fortunes of the people of the State only if it engages continuously on capacity-building and research and development activities that have direct bearing on the problems of the State. Thus, the University would have to be designed such that its programmes and activities have a clear targeted skilled manpower training, goal research and development focus that puts emphasis on the solution of the problems of the State. Accordingly, early in its work, the Committee identified a number of areas of knowledge which would engage the serious attention of the University in the effort to meet the challenge of turning around the socio-economic fortunes of the State. Thereafter, it selected centres of excellence located in various countries, whose leadership in the various disciplines of interest had been acknowledged world-wide and from which vital information and other assistance could be expected. With the approval and support of the Government of the State, delegations from the Committee undertook appraisal visits to these centres from January to June, 2001 in a programme which embraced a large number of institutions/agencies located in twelve countries and in which the deliberations addressed a range of issues which were brought to the attention of each of the organizations. The conceptualization of the vision and mission of the University was guided by the fact that Akwa Ibom State is a coastal state which is bounded in the south by the Gulf of Guinea. Lying between latitudes 4o28'N and 5o31'N and longitudes 7o27'E and 8o20'E, it stretches northwards from the sandy beaches of the ocean through extensive wetlands watered by tidal incursions of the ocean, to rainforest areas in its northern reaches. Apart from its oil and gas wealth, which makes it the second largest oil/gas-producing State in the Federation, it is rich in fisheries and is characterized by a large expanse of fertile hinterland. Currently, it hosts the only aluminum producing complex in the country. Given the above resource profile of the State and in the effort to maximize the gains from the above visits to international organizations, the Committee identified a number of the disciplines/bodies of scientific and technological knowledge within which man-power training and research and development activities of the University should be directed. These included: i. Oceanography and Naval Architecture ii. Petroleum Technology Agriculture and Forestry iii. Environmental Studies (including Waste Management, Pollution, Erosion and Flood Control) and Civil Engineering iv. Biotechnology/Genetic Engineering v. Electronics/ Information Technology vi. Industrial Plants and Machinery Development In the process of identifying these areas of knowledge, it became evident that apart from the direct beneficial catalytic effect on the industrial development of the State, the envisaged research and development activities would exert a strong positive influence on taught programmes in the University and hence on the development of the manpower resources of the State. Also, the R & D orientation of the new University would have a profound influence on the academic and administrative structures of the University, and on the expertise, experience and quality expected of the pioneer academic staff and technical expert.
Furthermore, the positioning of the University as an institution which derives its sustainability from its research and development activities which, in themselves, are directed towards the solution of the ecological and socio-economic problems of the State, would require close interaction between the University on one hand, and both the public and private sectors of the economy on the other. This position was to receive strong support from the experience gained from the vast majority of the Universities/agencies visited by members of the Committee. Following the submission of the Final Report of the Committee for the Establishment of the University of Technology in September, 2001, the Government of Akwa Ibom State put in place an Implementation Committee for the University later that year, as recommended in the Report. In the Report, the Implementation Committee was to facilitate the implementation process for the University, through the execution of an Implementation Plan. The Committee itself was envisaged as a small, compact, results-oriented group of resource persons which would include academics and technical experts with a deep knowledge of the philosophy, objectives and strategies, as well as the modus operandi of the University, augmented by a few strategic officials of Government. The Committee, with Professor Ekong E. Ekong, a Professor of Rural Sociology and Director of Academic Planning in the University of Uyo, as Chairman, operated under the overall guidance of the Governor. It had diverse responsibilities which were crystallized into a comprehensive Work Programme which included the following activities: i. Liaising with relevant agencies of Governments and parastatals towards the acquisition and survey of land for the permanent site of the University and the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment; ii. Raisingthe enabling Legal Instrument for the University; Producing the Academic Brief on the University to assist in the preparation of the Master Plan for the University; iii. Acting as the client’s representative with regard to the preparation of the Master Plan; Ensuring the appointment of key Academic and Administrative Staff to facilitate the take-off of the University. ACTIVITIES OF THE FIRST IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE: i. The Enabling Law of the University, which was raised through the preparation of an appropriate draft legal instrument. As a result, the Bill for the Establishment of the University, which had been passed by the House of Assembly of Akwa Ibom State, was finally signed into Law by the Governor of the State on 16th April, 2003. ii. An organizational structure of the University was presented as an Academic Brief for the University which was not accented to by the NUC.
Unfortunately, the main part of the Academic Brief (Vol ii) was not prepared by the first Implementation Committee. A proper Academic Brief, is, therefore now being prepared. Also a new Master Plan is to be prepared for the new land site at Mkpat Enin and the Obio Akpa campus to guide the overall long-term development of the University.
iii. The Implementation Committee commenced the process of the recruitment of the Vice-Chancellor, and key Academic Staff, Technological Experts and Administrative Officials in July, 2004 . On 21st September, 2005, the Committee formally presented its Final Report to His Excellency, Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah, the Executive Governor of the State. This report was later delivered to the Governing Council of the University which was inaugurated by the Governor later that day. Furthermore, Professor Akpan H. Ekpo, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo was appointed the first Vice-Chancellor of the University. Also the Governing Council was put in place With Mr. Bassey Ndioho, former Chairman of UAC (Nigeria) Plc, as Chairman and Pro Chancellor. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: The appointment of Prof. S. W. Petters, a geologist, a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, and a fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences, on November 21 2007, as the Ag. Vice-Chancellor of AKUTECH, gave new lease of life and a purposeful direction to the budding university. The new State Administration under His Excellency Chief Godswill Akpabio, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, has expanded the Vision and Mission of the University into a Conventional, Multi-Campus institution. However, its original mandate for science and technology, skilled industrial manpower training, with relevant research and development, have remained unchanged, whilst degree programmes in the humanities will be offered by the University. To accord with its new status and enlarged mandate, a change of name has become inevitable; hence Akwa Ibom State University of Technology will now be referred to as Akwa Ibom State University. The enabling law of the University has, therefore, undergone draft amendment, and is to be enacted into a new law to reflect the new status and name of the University. The State Government has also named two campuses for Akwa Ibom State University – the original Mkpat Enin Main Campus for engineering, technology and the humanities; and the Obio Akpa Campus for agriculture. Academic activities are to commence not later than September 2009, in the following disciplines:
Engineering (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical/Electronic, Oil and Gas) Geosciences Agriculture Food Science and Technology The new University Administration has been engaged in the acquisition of a land site for the main campus, away from its initial swamp location; the completion of roads and buildings and other infrastructure at the Model Science Secondary School, Ikot Akpaden, which serves as the take-off site of the Main Campus; and is also embarking upon an accelerated physical development of Obio Akpa Campus. The preparation of a comprehensive long-term Academic Brief for Akwa Ibom State University has been vigorously pursued by the University Administration; with the exercise now nearing completion. Experts from various fields of specialization to be offered by the University have been drawn from other Nigerian Universities, to serve on the various faculty Academic Brief Committees, with the task of fashioning unique departmental degree programmes that should satisfy the vision and mission of Akwa Ibom State University; and accord with the minimum or benchmark academic standards of the National Universities Commission (NUC). A Science Equipment Acquisition Committee, comprising chief technologists from science departments of sister universities, has also been constituted to undertake the establishment of functional basic science laboratories for the commencement of academic activities. Preparation of a new University Master-plan is about to commence fully. Meanwhile, site plans are being formulated by the University Management itself, led by the Acting Vice-Chancellor, who as far back as 1988 had conducted a State-wide soils, land-use and environmental surveys for the State Ministry of Agriculture, shortly after Akwa Ibom State was created in 1987. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, a town Planner, is seriously involved with the masterplan. Recruitment has started for academic and non-academic staff, while overseas training of key academic staff is being sustained.
As a multi-campus state institution with the mission to catalyze industrial and socio-economic advancement of a largely rural population, the two campuses of the university will be sited strategically in the two major ecological zones in the State, notably in the coastal part and in the oil palm belt in the hinterland. Thus, the main campus at Mkpat Enin is coastal, while the second campus at Obio Akpa is in the interior part of the State.
Knowledge and technology for development
The Logo of the Akwa Ibom State University depicts:
i. A shield enclosing the ocean, oil rig and a satellite dish with green vegetation in the background symbolizing the rich and diverse natural resource endowments of Akwa Ibom State and the aspiration to excel in technology, research and development
ii. A white circle surrounding the shield within which the name of the University is inscribed depicting unity of peoples and cultures.
iii. A white ribbon beneath on which the Motto of the University is written.
iv. The wheel with cogs represents the expected industrialization impact of the University on Akwa Ibom State economy and society.
The colours of the University are Brick, Blue and Green. Blue and Green are the colours of the ocean and forests all symbolizing fruitfulness and bountiful prosperity in Akwa Ibom State: The Land of Promise. The Brick represents industry, innovation, excellence and prominence
Prof. S. W. Petters