‘Okpara varsity’ll probe irregularities in appointment of profs’
Adanma Odefe is the spokesperson of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. He explains the plans to probe irregularities in the appointment of a number of professors.
Rumours making the rounds say about 460 workers have been dismissed from work, could you clarify this?
The history or the background to all this is that towards the end of the past vice chancellor’s administration, he hired over 440 people on temporary appointments. These people did not have the opportunity of being regularised. So when the issue of regularisation came up in the new administration, they saw that the number was so much; it was just illegal to hire such number of staff. It contravenes the policies of working in the federal civil service.
So in the interim, management decided that these people’s predicament was no fault of theirs and so they would not honour the terms of the rule of engagement because they were on temporary appointment of one year, of which at the end they were expected to leave if they were not regularised.
So the management insisted they would keep paying them until a new council was instituted. Because of that decision, regularised workers of the university had to start earning 75 per cent of their salaries just to try and accommodate these people. The next thing management did in preparation of the new council coming was to ask these people to re-apply since their temporary appointments had elapsed so that when a new council comes they will decide what to do in terms of proper vetting and all that, and people who would be retained would be retained.
Another reason management could not just go on and regularise these people is because they noticed so many irregularities. For example, people came from another federal university and they were given temporary appointments here; that is illegal. If you are in any federal government institution or organisation and you want to move to a new one, what you do is a transfer of service and you continue from where you stopped there, but what we found out was that people who were junior lecturers, for example, in the University of Calabar, would come here and become senior lecturers thereby jumping the steps they were supposed to go through normally, and so there was no way management could accept this and just regularise them.
Again, the system became overbloated in some areas, while we are deficient in some other areas, this does not make any sense.
Again there was no sack. We only gave them letters of suspension to give hope to those who are qualified and might be taken back.
Were the people hired at once?
They were hired within a period of four months while there was a VC designate.
However, some of the lecturers who taught 400 Level plus who had students were asked to stay back and finish with the exams which were on. Immediately that is done with, they will leave likewise.
There are allegations that procedures for the appointment of professors were violated.
We had a lot of discrepancies in the process of awarding professorship here under the former administration. People who rightly were supposed to be professors were cheated and those who did not have business to be professors were made professors in outright disregard for the rules and guidelines.
We also have a condition where professors are in a department and a lecturer that has a PhD will be made the head of the department; which caused a lot grievances. How would you feel that you have worked hard for years and some small person who does not have the qualification that you have is now promoted ahead of you and you have to take instruction from that person? It contravenes the guideline for public service. You can’t promote a junior ahead of a senior. You don’t promote people because they are your friends or you like their faces; you promote people because they are qualified.