Faction of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has condemned what it termed ill-conceived campaign of a few of their colleagues in the institution.
This was in reaction to articles published recently by an Umuahia-based newspaper, which was believed to have been sponsored by this disgruntled members of the union who are indigenes of Abia State.
There has been clamour by some of the state in the school for an increased quota in terms of employment and award of contract by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hilary Edeoga, who they said should have favoured more indigenes since the university is located in their land.
With the VC perceived to be slow in implementing their request, this group has been at the forefront of unwarranted disturbance of the peace of the university community by instigating all forms of rebellion against the management of the university, including what some of the staff called “parochial meeting of indigenes to create chaotic situation in the school.
This faction had indicted the vice-chancellor of improprieties, alleging among other issues, that Edeoga was involved in a N300 million fraud from hostel charges from about 5,000 new students.
To publicise their plot, they engaged the services of a local newspaper to undertake the publication of what many in the school has described as unsubstantiated story against the management of the school led by the Vice-Chancellor, which is now a matter of litigation in the court of law for, according to Jerry Akhazemea and company, a firm of legal practitioners and counsel to the VC, “a libellous publication against our client, Professor Hilary Edoga”.
Meanwhile, the other faction of ASUU supporting the management of the university has debunked the allegation of financial misappropriation by the vice-chancellor, noting that the university had rather witness development in the era of Edeoga than before.
One of them who would not want his name imprint, said the allegations were untrue, adding that the call for the removal of Edeoga was unwarranted.
“Before he was appointed, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture was like a ‘glorified secondary school’, there were no tangible structures, but today the story is different”, he said.
The university don wondered, therefore, why some disgruntle staff would go all out to publish what were not correct, only to tarnish the image of another person.
A former staff of Institute of Management Technology, Enugu, Dr. Ndudaku Omeh, who joined the university in 2007, has this to say.
“When I got employment here, I almost rejected the job because I thought it was a secondary school. There were no chairs, no academic culture that a university ought to have.
“Frankly speaking, many only heard the name of the university, even though it is located along a major road, they never knew where it is, and in the absence of good structures to depict a university setting, law and order are scarcely maintained”, he said.
Omeh stated that in the days of Edeoga, the reverse is the case, adding: “Many people do not like discipline, therefore if one does what is right, they create a name for him, that is what I think is going on between the vice-chancellor and these people”.
A dean of one of the colleges, Professor Raphael Echebiri, complemented Omeh in defence of the vice-chancellor, saying Edeoga’s era brought modern structures to the university.
Similarly, Dr. Innocent Okoro of the department of chemistry said Edeoga built the chemistry laboratory with adequate equipment, whereas the facilities were not provided before.
In the same way, Dr. Emmanuel Onyekweodili, a senior lecturer at the department of Veterinary Pathology, disclosed that there was no staff training until the arrival of Edeoga in the university.
“You see, we have a country of people with the ‘bring him down syndrome, so what is happening here is a replica of what is happening in the larger society. My candid advice is that Edeoga should concentrate on his job and ignore those who feel they should be the one there”, he added.
Prof Edoga, who spoke to Nigerian Pilot on telephone recently said the hostel in question are ten blocks in number and were built with internally generated revenue, adding that they were meant particularly for students on pay –and –occupy basis.
“Students are still taking up the hostels, especially those who do not want to stay off- campus. Those building were not there when I came. There are a lot of projects in the school and all fund raised goes into one project or the other”, he said.
The federal government –owned university has over the years been a subject of ethnic segregation with indigenes of the host state insatiably demanding more job and contract allotments and for that reason, insisted on making the institution ungovernable for the Enugu State- born Vice Chancellor.