An Address Presented by Engr. Emmanuel Ekott, Founder and Chairman of Heritage Polytechnic, Eket, Akwa Ibom State on the Occasion of 2014 Matriculation Ceremony on May 31, 2014. On behalf of the Rector, Registrar, Management, Deans, Faculties, staff and all members of Heritage Polytechnic, Eket, Nigeria, I specially welcome you to this year matriculation ceremony. Today is one of the most exciting days of the year. The very day our newly registered students will be formally admitted as member of this academic community and the education society as a whole. That is why, in about 30 degree centigrade heat we dress in robes intended to keep warm in European winters as we ceremonially mark you becoming members of this community; and that is why, like graduation, you must listen to speeches. Let me congratulate the matriculating students once again. I appreciate the confidence the parents and the students have in the management of this polytechnic. At this juncture I say emphatically that Heritage Polytechnic shall always meet your needs. We are happy that this polytechnic has grown from strength to strength. I was once asked the relationship between Heritage Polytechnic and Christian Institute at University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. After my explanations, I told to always carry history along and was made to understand that University of Wolvehampton has changed its name over 20 times, from Mechanic’s Institute in 1835 through different names to College, to Polytechnic in 1969 and then to University in 1992. Today it is one of the biggest universities in United Kingdom. On this note let me narrate our short story. We started as Christian Continuing Education Centre in 1996 and grew to Christian Institute of Continuing Education in 1999. In year 2000, the institution changed to Heritage College and was converted to Heritage Polytechnic in 1996 with Federal Government license in 2010. Between 2010 to date, Heritage Polytechnic has secured accreditation in 28 academic programmes both at the National Diploma and Higher National Diploma levels. With these approvals, Heritage Polytechnic has become the biggest, most equipped and most developed private polytechnic in Nigeria. All courses in Heritage polytechnic are accredited. Our idea of polytechnic education is to train the whole man, spiritual, mental and social. This we are making remarkable achievements. Spiritually, we conduct our weekly Christian service to develop our students. Mentally, our classrooms and laboratories are meeting your needs. Socially, our students enjoy their football matches, rag day, cultural day and Miss Heritage contest. To add to our story, this very year, specifically in the good month of August, Heritage Polytechnic will be sending its first batch of HND graduates to National Youth Service (NYSC). Henceforth, as you graduate from our HND programme, you will be mobilized immediately. No one will stay at home for more than two months. We shall mobilize in the months of August, November and March every year. It is left for you to prepare yourselves for this national assignment and remember at all times, this prestigious Polytechnic that has trained you. It is on this note that I congratulate our over one hundred lecturers who worked tirelessly to achieve this height. I am highly grateful to all the lecturers and non-teaching staff. To encourage academic work, we are determined to complete the polytechnic library this year. We shall also get the hostels ready by September this year. We must reduce the accommodation burden the students are currently facing. As you come back next semester, many of you will be housed at the hostel and the campus will be lively all through. Complete campus and student life will be introduced in this campus from next semester. I have also directed that more cafeterias should be constructed so that my students can have enough refreshment while on campus. We will also make our internal roads constructed while we appealed to NNDC to complete the Ikot Udota Road project. This will help us a lot. We are still in dilemma of movement of persons and vehicles in our planned convocation ceremony for November this year. We pray that government will come to our aid soon. Let me further assured the matriculating students and parents that all the students here are in very safe haven where your certificates will be accepted world-wide; where you will be mobilised for NYSC not more than two months from the date you complete your studies; where there shall be no strike throughout your stay on campus, where cultism is a taboo, where examination malpractices are not heard; where sexual harassment is not tolerated and where excellence is the watch word. You must put this before you. There are what separate you from others and makes you highly marketable after graduation. Let me also say here that the dichotomy between HND and Bachelor Degree has reached its peak and we are pleased that the matter is coming to an end. Lecturers in Federal Polytechnics have been on strike for 9 months now and this issue of dichotomy is one of their demands. The Minister of Education three weeks ago constituted a committee to see to the immediate commencement of Bachelor of Technology Degrees in Polytechnics. This will bring an end to the dichotomy and I can say that as soon as that is approved, we shall be among the first to offer the programme. Meanwhile, we join millions of Nigerian to appeal to Federal Government to resolve all the demands of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics so that our Federal Polytechnics can resume. Let me also use this occasion to appeal to Boko Haram to release our young girls without further delay. We need the over 200 young Nigerian girls. Heritage Polytechnic needs the girls. Please Boko Haram release the girls. I know from experience that the matriculating students are extraordinarily diverse, and come, quite literally, from all over the country and beyond – from very small villages to cities to metropolitans. We have students whose lives revolve around classical music and students whose favourite music is heavy metal and wooden drums as we experienced during our just conducted cultural day. Students whose idea of exercise is like my own, just riding bicycles, and students who may be participants at the 2016 Olympics. Students who can afford to miss class to watch Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid. Students who love Miss Campus and those who do not like such. Students who are atheists and students who identify their faith, whether Christianity, Islam, or Judaism as the most important force in their lives. So, within and without your departments, engage with the people who are like you and engage with the people who are different from you. You will learn from people that are like you and from people that are not like you, and these friendships will be one of the great treasures of your experience at Heritage Polytechnic and for decades to come. As we enter period of high political activities to herald in 2015 elections, I urge you all not to subject yourselves to be used as political tools of violent. Don't gather knowledge here and go back home to allow yourselves to be used and dumped by politicians, carrying guns and other weapons during elections and thereafter wearing the most remote look of a poor man or woman for I am yet to see one man or woman who carries gun during elections and succeeding thereafter. Rather, enrich the political field with good ideas you will learn here in this polytechnic. Introduce what I may call complex political algebra with solutions far above the reach of those politicians that are engulfed in poverty of ideas of resolution of our societal issues. By so doing we will collectively build our state and our dear country. Academic knowledge does not have boundaries of usage. While on campus, knowledge can be shared by any one irrespective of tribe or religion. Do not allow the bad politician to destroy what you have learned and known. Shun tribalism, and ethnicity at all levels. Look at religion from an academic point of view knowing that human blood and its chemical compositions are similar in all human and can be transfused from one person to another without ethnic or religion considerations. Therefore love every human irrespective of his tribe or religious affiliation for our Gods are not Gods of tribalism else the blood of a southerner would not fit into the body of a northerner and that of a Christian wouldn’t fit into the body of a Muslim and vice versa. You stand a good position to help in the unity of our dear country and the starting point is here and the time is right now. At Greek, I have learned the origins of the word “idiot.” “Idiot” derives from a Greek word, which literally meant someone who keeps to oneself, who doesn’t interact with others and doesn’t participate in public affairs. In other words, not interacting and engaging with others makes one ignorant, and therefore an idiot. So my advice to you is, do not be an idiot; take advantage of as many people here at Heritage Polytechnic as you can, and learn from them. The lecturers are friendly and accommodating, meet them. Fellow students are available, meet them. This Polytechnic is properly staff and equipped. Use the equipment safely and ensure on completion of your studies you are one among the best in your discipline. Do not belittle yourself for Heritage Polytechnic is great. Arise and shine. Best wishes once again from me. God bless you all. Engr. Emmanuel Ekott