FOR MOST Nigerians, President
Muhammadu Buhari’s (PMB)
mantra of “change” in attitudes and
behavioral dispositions in private
homes, offices and elsewhere is a
mere slogan and more like a sound
of distant echoes. Those who benefit
immensely from the old, corrupt
order of handling official business in
Nigeria are most stoutly opposed to
this #ChangeBeginsWithMe.
Professor Zana Akpagu, the Vice
Chancellor (VC) of University of
Calabar (UniCal) seemed caught up
in this web of oddities in his dogged
attempts to run the institution
transparently for positive results.
Since his assumption to office last year,
his desire to instill financial discipline,
transparency and accountability in the
administration of the varsity instantly
allegedly pitched him against the
university Bursar, Mr. Peter Agi.
It is clear that Agi who had operated
as a bursar in the university for years
was perceptively, as alleged, had a lot
of issues. So, campaigns for financial
sanity and the aversion for official
laxity crusaded by Prof. Akpagu
berthed at the ex-bursar’s doorstep
and the only natural option was to
frustrate and resist it. But like a lone
sailor on the high sea, Agi’s resistance
to “change” also eclipsed any
sympathy for him from the disparate
segments of the university community
which he had administered. When
Agi’s interface with the VC became
an open conflict, the university
management first suspended him and
eventually commuted the suspension
to termination of appointment after
an inquest into his official dealings.
And of all groups within the university
environment, it was a segment of students
that Agi, who was accused of highhandedness,
negligence, impersonation
and other acts of malfeasance, was
rumoured to have hired to stage a protest
in his support.
Not satisfied, the group approached
the National Industrial Court sitting in
Calabar to challenge his suspension and
eventual sack by the institution. Justice
Nneka M. Esowe dismissed Agi’s suit
as premature, following his refusal
to comply with the internal dispute
resolution mechanisms as spelt out by
University of Calabar Law no. 80 of 1979.
By implication, just like there is no
hiding place for a questionable soul,
Agi lost both head and tail. Many
people The point believe that greed and
haughtiness serviced by impunity must
have been responsible. When the heat
became too much, the camp allegedly
resorted to blackmail and counteraccusations
against superior officer and
Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof.
Akpagu. But till date, the ex-bursar
has not as much as convinced even a
student to back him anymore. Even
those allegedly rented have shunned and
deserted him, according to rumours.
He has dumped himself in a circle as
the court has directed him to face the
internal conflict resolution mechanism of
the university. He was said to have earlier
turned down appearance before a panel
set up by the university management to
clear himself over allegations bordering
on financial accountability under the
pretext that the case was in court.
Curiously though, the question many
are asking us why should he, a principal
officer of the university, who handles a
sensitive duty, such as the administration
of the university finances, be so ignorant
or chose to ignore the varsity’s internal
laws which is the first point of adjudication
over an internal matter, but preferred to
rush to court?
As testimony of a man caged by his
own traps, Agi approached two court
of concurrent jurisdiction over the same
matter. He took his case to the National
Industrial Court, Calabar and also
approached the same court in Uyo. What
was the intention of stampeding the
courts with the same case? It confirms the
actions of a guilty mind, which pursues
everything at sight in the hope of getting
succour.
A peep into Agi’s official alleged
malfeasance as decided by the panel
instituted by university management
reveal an intolerable level of official
negligence, absenteeism, official snobbery
and alleged attempts to defraud the
institution laced in criminal acts such as
impersonation of the VC, who is the Chief
Accounting officer of the university by
consenting to the varsity’s final financial
approvals outside the gamut of his
official powers. He frustrates payment
of TETFUND contractors, even after
completion of jobs, certifications issued
and payments approved.
UniCal Registrar, Mr. Moses Abang,
in a letter conveying the termination
of Mr. Peter Agi’s appointment lucidly
stated thus: “Management observed
that you have been impersonating the
vice-chancellor on the CBN e-payment
platform by making final approvals and
payments, a duty that is the responsibility
of the Vice Chancellor, who is the Chief
Accounting Officer of the university.
Again, you absented yourself from office
without requesting any of your deputies
to act for you, thus creating a vacuum in
the administration of the Bursary.”
But instead of answering the questions
directly, the hext thing people heard
was alleged incitement of a segment of students and what many described
as cash-and-carry civil society
organizations (CSOs), operating under
some funny strange identity as League
of Civil Society Organizations to issue a
watery statement at a Press Conference
in Abuja alleging excesses on the part of
Akpagu and invoking neglect of some
sort of due process in the termination
of the ex-bursar’s appointment.
Agreed that the Akpagu hijacked
the professional and legal powers of
the sacked bursar as argued by the
pro-Agi campaigners through the
retention of the consultant for the
collection of the university’s levies,
why was Agi opposed to the retention
as alleged? Had he just found the
consultants unworthy and incapable
under the tenure of Professor Akpagu?
The former bursar had worked with
the consultant for years under an
era in Nigeria where corruption was
celebrated and rewarded.
Within the academic community,
Agi has lost every strand or voice
or support. It means, as alleged, he
had operated like a demigod in the
institution, but the preceding VC Prof.
James Epoke consented to his excesses
until Akpagu, widely admired on
campus with the sobriquet of “Mr.
Change” came on board and decided to
check his official impunity and sleaze.
A Vice Chancellor whose actions
and policies inspire both students and
workers to massively rise in his defence
is really an asset anywhere because it
is not easy to influence any of these
interests groups in the university
community to back your cause. It is the
triumph of the “change” over evil.

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