Academic Staff Union Of Universities Warn Against Senate Procedures As It Calls For Probe Of Two Vice-Chancellors It Accused Of Fraud And Mismanagement
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has expressed worry over the use of “home-endorsement” of senators as a precondition for screening the former governor of Rivers State and others as ministers by the Nigerian Senate, saying that such a condition could only serve the purpose of promoting private and group interests of a few.
The condition requiring a nominee to secure two senators’ support is perceived to have the possibility of dimming the confirmation of former Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, and other nominees who are being opposed by their senators.
The three senators from Rivers State, George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East), Osinakachukwu Ideozu (Rivers West) and Olaka Nwogu (Rivers South-east) had at plenary submitted a petition against Amaechi’s confirmation, alleging that he misappropriated N70 billion belonging to Rivers State when he was governor.
But, in an eleven-paged document signed by its President, Dr. Nasir Isa and made available to the press shortly after the end of its two-day National Executive Council meeting held at the Auditorium of Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri, ASUU said the practice of endorsement by home senators would become “an avenue for deepening corrupt practice at a time the nation is supposedly waging an all-time war against the cankerworm of corruption”.
Meanwhile, poised by its commitment to fight corruption and worried by an alleged administrative ineptitude and financial recklessness of Professor Hillary Edogha and Prof. John Obafunwa, the Vice Chancellors of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUA), Umudike and Lagos State University (LASU) respectively, ASUU has asked the Federal and Lagos State governments to immediately probe administration of the two men by sending a Special Visitation Panel to the universities.
Isa pointed out that the union has consistently struggled and sacrificed to improve governance and democratization of the Nigerian University system to enable it contributes meaningfully to national development
He noted that “while these efforts have paid off to some reasonable extent, it is disheartening that some Vice-Chancellors and Chairmen of Governing Councils have continued with unbridled arrogance to manipulate the system to serve their selfish and untoward ends.
These Vice-Chancellors and their cronies, he said, have literally turned public Universities given to them to manage into fiefdoms, where their words were laws – a practice, he stated was alien to University culture.
On Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUA), Umudike, the ASUU President said ‘’ there is no public University in Nigeria today where acts of recklessness, impunity and lack of respect for rule of law could be more exemplified than at MOUA.
“In 2014/2015 academic session, the Vice-Chancellor of MOUA, Prof. Hillary O. Edogha compelled all the first year students to pay N60,800 per bed space but failed to refund same sum to most of the students who could not secure the accommodation.
“To date, the Vice–Chancellor has recruited over 1,000 staff on temporary appointment and promoted staff into various positions in total disregard for the University’s regulations on appointment and promotions’’ he revealed.
“He also accused the Vice–Chancellor of appointing Assistant lecturers and lecturers 1 as Directors and running unapproved programmes that have graduated students graduate level as in the case of the Human Resource Management Programme in which the wife of the Vice Chancellor allegedly took an accelerated M.Sc Degree”, he alleged.
Isa further accused the MOUA Vice–Chancellor of collecting application fees of up to N3,000 from candidates seeking employment in the university, a practice which he said was fraudulent and unknown to the university tradition anywhere in the world.
He further noted that the situation at MOUA would have been brought under control if the Governing Council had been alive to its responsibility.
He disclosed that despite all efforts made by the union to draw its attention to the alleged atrocities being perpetuated by the VC, that the council under the chairmanship of Prof. Anya .O. Anya turned deaf ear, adding that the alleged conspiracy action of the Governing Council had emboldened the VC to launch an onslaught against the branch leadership of ASUU.
According to the ASUU President, “We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Visitor to MOUA to speedily look into the petition of ASUU MOUA currently before him and immediately set up a Special Visitation Panel to unearth the acts of impunity, recklessness and disregard to due process in the University.”
ASUU also accused the Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. John Obafunwa of being entangled in a war of attrition with all the staff unions in the institution for his dictatorial tactics and desperation for an undeserved second term in office.
To justify their claims, the ASUU President said ‘’His administrative style has debased academic values and caused widespread disaffection among members of the University community.
“The LASU VC sponsors students against students, students against staff and staff against staff. He manipulates University rules against his perceived enemies, as exemplified in the illegitimate withdrawal of the Doctoral Certificate of the Chairperson of ASUU–LASU”, he stated.
Isa further said that while noting the recent efforts by the new Visitors to address the LASU crisis with the inauguration of a Governing Council, ASUU again calls for a Special Visitation Panel to the University without further delay.
– Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri