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FUO: “We will not be intimidated out of Federal University Otuoke”- Demoted Lecturers

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Main Entrance, Federal University Otuoke, Yenagoa. Photo: Guardian Newspapers

The seven Lecturers, who were recently demoted by the authorities of the Federal University of Otuoke (FUO), on Thursday, staged a press conference in Yenagoa, gave details of what lead to their demotion and vow to not accept this decision of the VC.

Though, they were recruited into the university from the diaspora, the lecturers say Prof. Seth Acra Jaja, the Vice-Chancellor of FUO is directly responsible for their travails. This is coming after the institution announced the demotions of the academic employees for lacking requisite scholarship and also absconding from the university.

The University Registrar, Iruo Yousuo, said in a statement that the development was part of the ongoing cleansing exercise to sanitise the university, which is located in the country home of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

During the press conference, according to TheNation Newspapers, the lecturers said: “We may have come from the Diaspora to serve our country but we are all Nigerians from different parts of the country.

“We will not be intimidated out of Federal University Otuoke as we believe allowing that to happen will be counterproductive to the government’s policy of encouraging Nigerians in the Diaspora to return home”.

The affected lecturers present at the briefing are Prof. Steve Nwabuzor, Dr . Fellina Nwadike and Dr. Evans Ugboji-Eze.

They continued: “When in February, 2011 the Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan established nine new universities, they thought it wise to appoint reputable academics from the Diaspora as Vice-Chancellors of three of the nine universities.

“Federal University Otuoke was one of the Universities that got a diaspora VC in the person of Professor Mobolaji E. Aluko of Howard University in Washington DC, USA.

“Prof Aluko on assumption of office, recruited some academics and professionals from the diaspora  together with several others from within the country to assist him in the onerous task of laying the academic and physical foundations of the new university.

“As would be expected, these pioneer staff made huge personal sacrifices, many a times putting their health and safety at risk, in order for academic activities to take off on solid ground in 2012.

“At the end of Aluko’s tenure, Prof Seth Accra Jaja from the Rivers State University was appointed VC in February, 2016.

“Prof Jaja showed from the outset of his tenure that he was uncomfortable with the crop of senior academic and administrative staff his predecessor had employed.

“He wanted to replace all of them in leadership positions but found that he did not have the staff to do so.

“He started recruiting academic staff from the Rivers State University, Niger Delta University and Delta State University on sabbatical, adjunct and contract appointments and placing them over and above those who were on ground thereby sowing the seed of discord”.

They continued serious allegations against the VC saying: “the VC frequently applies rules and regulations in the management of the University that should not apply to a Federal university.

“Management meetings do not hold and decisions that affect the livelihood and careers of staff are taken by a few individuals at secret locations.

“Since assuming office almost three years ago, Prof Jaja has totally ignored the physical and infrastructural development of the University while quadrupling the annual student intake from about 600 to 2,600 in a drive to increase fees collection.

“Not a single classroom or laboratory has been added thereby stretching existing facilities to bursting limits at great inconvenience to students and staff.

“Meanwhile, the University has federal allocations of about N7 billion naira sitting in Abuja.

“Instead of making all efforts to get these funds released, the Vice-Chancellor, who for three years has remained at his residence in his home institution in Port Harcourt, making twice weekly trips to Otuoke, is busy pursuing perceived opponents”.

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