Battles ground for the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor for the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, (MOUA) Umudike near Umuahia has been shifted to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
On Thursday, some staff and students of the university staged a peaceful demonstration over an alleged plan to supplant one of the professors/applicants, Professor Friday Ekeleme, the presumed best applicant to the VC seat after a one month screening exercise for that seat.
It was learnt that Council had staged a shadow screening exercise where they singlehandedly picked a professor/applicant in from Imo state in total neglect to the Act governing the university.
However, the University Senate Committee charged with the responsibility of screening a VC for MOUA protested and boldly told the members
of the Governing Council that their powers exceeded that; that they University Senate Committee) were selected by the University Senate to screen and select a VC based on the guidelines establishing the university. They told them that their process was faulty.
In obedience to superior argument, the Council back down and threw the already selected list overboard and caved in for a fresh selection. In their selection, the Council had picked the Imo professor as the successor to Professor Francis Otunta, the outgoing VC.
A new screening and selection was done and informed sources said Professor Friday Ekeleme from Umuahia North emerged the best. He scored first amongst the 15 professors/applicants. But apparently because of the money that exchanged hands, the Council insisted in announcing the Professor from Imo state as the new VC.
However, when the staff and students demonstrated on Thursday, the Council led by Rt Hon Lawal Zayyana from Sokoto State, promised to revisit their earlier decision the next day, Friday December 11, 2020. But rather made good his promise, the members of the Council fled to Abuja on arriving at the hotel rooms in Umuahia.
Indeed, Ekeleme’s problem is that he is being backed by two APC chieftains from Abia State; one a serving Minister and another, a close ally of people at the corridors of power in Aso Rock from Ohuhu, Umuahia North.
But the APC Senator from Abia State felt slighted that he was not in the driving seat of who produces the VC of MOUA and decided to throw the spanner on the wheel of progress, sources said, adding that he had thrown in huge sums for the win.
A source said, “We retired to our hotel rooms from the school, planning how to go about the exercise the next day, not knowing that some of us are already in Abuja. When I made a call to the Chairman of the Governing Council, I was surprised when he told me that he was already in Abuja; that I should start coming to Abuja. They left without our knowledge”, he emphasised
In reaction of why he protested against the supplanting of Professor Ekeleme, one of the the protesters said, “Why wouldn’t I do so? Of all the federal universities in the country, none of them is being headed by an Abia indigene. All the federal educational institutions in Imo State are being headed by Imo indigenes.
“Even the one in Ebonyi state; why should they also head that of Abia while no Abia indigene is heading any federal university, Polytechnic or College of Education in this country school? And besides, Professor Ekeleme did well in the screening and came out as the best.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.