‘Our VC is a thief’: Irate youths demand sack of Otuoke Federal Varsity VC, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko

Posted by News Express | 19 September 2014 | 6,550 times

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The gate of the Federal University Otuoke, home town of President Goodluck Jonathan in Bayelsa State, was under lock and key on September 4, 2014 as youths protested against the university administration led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko.

On that fateful day, the school gate was locked and pasted with placards by the youths, thereby preventing academic and business activities from holding on campus. Some of the placards read: “VC Is  a thief”, “You must give account”, “Pack your bag or pack your bones” , “No employment , No MOU, No Admission , VC Why?” , “Federal University is not Yoruba Affairs”, among others.

The Financial Secretary of the Otuoke Youths, Comrade Green, told newsmen that Otuoke youths have tolerated the Vice Chancellor for a very long time and that since all efforts to reach a compromise have failed the last resort was to cripple activities of the university and disrupt ongoing semester examinations until their demands were met.

He further told our correspondent that the university does not employ their people, instead other tribes, especially the Yorubas – the Vice Chancellor’s tribe – were in majority in every cadre of staff. He also informed that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into between the community and university was not approved, and that there is no transparency and accountability in the running of the university.

Other grievances tabled by the students include the denial of admission opportunities, local contractors not being carried along and that after due consultation they decided to embark on a peaceful demonstration. Security agents watched without interference.

After making failed efforts to reach out to the university authorities, including the Head of Public Relations Department, Miss Mercy Ekott, Blueprint sought the opinion of the traditional ruler of the town, His Royal Highness, Lotts Ogiasa, and surprisingly met the Vice Chancellor and management staff holding a meeting with Deputy Paramount Ruler since the King, according to a source, was said to be indisposed and recuperating.

Those in attendance at the meeting which lasted for over two hours were the leadership of the Otuoke Youths and representatives of the Ijaw Youth Council. When he was informed about the presence of journalists, the Vice Chancellor evaded them by directing them to his office, which was already locked.

Earlier, the Vice Chancellor had commended the press for their prompt response and remarked that protests were not new to any university community and that what happened at Federal University, Otuoke, was not strange, as it was a peaceful protest without destruction of properties.

He further admitted that the university has been under serious pressure from the Otuoke Community in particular and Ogbia in general. According to the VC, when one group comes with its demands, once attended to another will come under different guise or names. He said the university administration has been trying its best to address the myriads of their needs within available resources. He appealed for their understanding.

Prof. Aluko said that the misunderstanding centered mainly on three principal issues of admission, employment and MoU. He explained that it was the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) that set the template for admission after candidates must have met admission requirements and cut-off points and passed the post-UME tests. Prof. Aluko lamented that students who did not even make the university as their choice and without departmental requirements were always brought for admission. He said he told them at the meeting that the university will try as much as possible to admit those that meet the requirements but that they should also note that the principle of federal character must be adhered to in employment and admission processes.

On employment, the VC said his office was inundated with a list of 316 applicants for employment from only Otuoke to the exclusion of other persons from Ogbia and other parts of Bayelsa State. He disclosed that these names were supplied without CVs and applications and during the meeting he directed them to ensure that applicants should write applications and attach their CVs, assuring that those qualified would be shortlisted and invited for interview, while the successful ones would be employed for the vacancies available.

Prof. Aluko explained that when their demands were becoming too much, it was decided that their requests should be routed through the Obenama (traditional ruler). He said that the MoU implementation had reached an advanced stage when it was learnt that the document had been sent to the Obenama who was outside the country for treatment. He assured that once the Obenama is well the MUO would be signed.

The VC blamed the crisis on the leadership of the youth and appealed to them to be mature in handling issues as demands by any university community could not be met in one day.

The Federal University, Otuoke, is among the nine federal universities established in February 2011 by the President Jonathan administration for states without a federal university. It is yet to move to its permanent site: a 200-hectare land in Otuoke in Ogbia LGA.

•Adapted from a Blueprint report. Photo shows Federal University Otuoke VC, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko.

Source: News Express

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