Saturday, 13 August 2016

ASUU split over alleged Ojukwu varsity VC’s tenure elongation plan

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Okechukwu Onuegbu 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Chuwkwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Igbariam in Anambra state has split into camps following an alleged tenure elongation of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Fidelis Okafor by the state government.

Addressing newsmen at Igbariam, the ASUU branch Chairman and Secretary, Mr Emeka Nwabunnia and Dr Mbanefo Odum respectively faulted the alleged tenure elongation plan, maintaining that the tenure of Okafor will expire on Sept. 4, 2016.

Nwabunnia, who was backed by other ASUU members expressed concern that there is no properly constituted and functioning governing council in the university since January 2015, stressing that the immediate past council headed by Prof. Amucheazi left in December 2014.

Citing a letter addressed to the visitor, COOU, Governor Willie Obiano titled ‘vacancy in the post of vice chancellor of the university’, dated July 25, 2016, and signed by Nwabunnia and Odum on behalf of the union, ASUU pointed out that Prof Okafor’s tenure would expire on Sept. 4, 2016.

He said the letter copied to various stakeholders is part of struggles to get the management and the state government to do the right thing about the elections of governing council members and appointment of Vice Chancellor.

According to him, the governing council ought to announce the vacancy for the seat of the Vice Chancellor which is usually made six months to the end of the incumbent’s tenure but that has not been done.

He faulted Okafors’ response that there were existing members, even when the ASUU argued that those there were elected in 2012 and that there was no way they could remain as members.

Nwabunnia claimed that in spite of the union’s advice to appoint an Acting Vice Chancellor, the state government allegedly has plans to appoint Okafor as the Acting Vice Chancellor after his tenure had elapsed.

He noted, “This is unacceptable to the union, the law has to be followed. Someone can’t work in Acting capacity, then work on substantive capacity and then go back to work on Acting capacity.

“There are lots of professors from the state who can be appointed on Acting capacity for six months and run the process of ensuring the election of convocation and congregation to council”, as he wondered why Okafor, who had been in office for the statutory single term of five years will be appointed as Acting VC.

But some concerned members of the ASUU COO, have condemned the Nwabunnia led executive dissociated themselves from the allegations and claims made by the executive, especially the letter addressed to the government on appointment of the vice chancellor.

At a separate briefing yesterday at the university premises, by some concerned ASUU members, the Director, Linkages and International Programme in the institution, Dr Pascal Oguno, who was flanked by 25 other members of the union, accused Nwabunnia and his executive of being “high handed”.

Oguno said, “The union’s executive acted ultra vires to the laws of the university. The letter meant for the visitor was copied to the whole world, it is not acceptable to the university. Their action was derailing the peace and academic progress in the institution.

“As we speak, the institution does not have constituted governing council but it is the prerogative of the visitor to take decision on appointments of VC as stated by the laws of the institution”.

Oguno, who was flanked by 25 other members of the union, said only the governing council of the university has the powers to declare vacant the seat of the vice chancellor and not ASUU.

He advised that ASUU should rather concentrate on fighting for the welfare of members and not dabble into appointment of the vice chancellor.



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