Ambrose Alli Varsity ASUU Uncomfortable with Obaseki’s Silence on Visitation Panel Report

Godwin Obaseki,Edo State governor Photo
Godwin Obaseki, Edo State governor

…Demands Action on Appointment of Principal Officers.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University, (AAU), Ekpoma Chapter, is concerned about the perceived discomfiting silence by the Visitor to the University and Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki on the report of the Prof. Ikpomwosa Omoruyi-led Special Visitation Panel it had set up October last year to look into the management of the university with the objective of repositioning it for optimum performance. ASUU AAU recalled that prior to the setting up of the panel, there had been a plethora of “alleged massive corruption, mal-administration, abuse of due-process and assault on regulations and law” of the University. It said the Report of the panel was expected to address these issues.

The Union also raised the alarm over “imminent crisis of instability in the administration and management of the University as a result of delay in kick-starting the processes of the appointment of Principal Officers for the University”.

In a press release Friday night titled “Release the Report of the Special Visitation Panel to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma” the Union stated that the non-release of the report was open to many interpretations, “which forms part of the discomfort of the Union”. Signed by Dr. Monday Igbafen and Dr. Azebioje-Coker Anthony, the chairperson and secretary of ASUU AAU, Ekpoma respectively, they said the statement was the outcome of a Congress meeting of Thursday February 18, 2021.

The union said though it was not unaware of the two weeks extension given to the Panel because of the ENDSARS protest and lockdown, it however expressed “deep shock and disbelief” that till date, nothing had been heard about the report of the special visitation panel “which the State Government unequivocally said should submit its report in six weeks, having been inaugurated in October 2020”. The Union said it was extremely worried that there had not been any report even as the Special Visitation Panel’s given deadline for submission of report had since lapsed.

Recalling that the University of Lagos, UNILAG and Lagos State University, LASU had similar experiences of Special Visitation Panels, the union noted that the two institutions have since overcome their respective crisis or problem because of the swift release of the reports of their visitation panels and white papers, and necessary actions taken by the authorities, federal and Lagos State respectively. It wondered why that of the AAU, Ekpoma must be “a case of no-report”.

The Union said its worry and concern came “on the heels of mounting rumours that the Special Visitation Panel report has been hijacked by powerful forces who are hell-bent in covering up the true facts about the situation in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma” adding that “Just as other concerned major stakeholders in the University, ASUU AAU, Ekpoma is greatly perturbed by this development”, and called on the governor to immediately attend to the problems.

Meanwhile, worried by the seeming inaction in setting in motion machinery for the appointment of new principal officers for the university, the union, in a letter to the Governing Council noted that “that the tenure of the present Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor I.A. Onimawo expires on May 12, 2021. The Governing Council should further be informed that the tenures of the sitting Registrar and Secretary to Council of the University, Mr. Chris Adamaigbo, and the University Librarian, Dr. (Mrs.) Jane Aba terminate in April and May this year respectively, while the tenure of the University’s Bursar, Mr. Lawrence Esene had since lapsed and the process which started some months ago for the appointment of a new Bursar is neither aborted nor concluded, in fact, in the limbo”.

The Union said it was utterly bewildered that less than three months to the expiration of the tenure of the present Vice-Chancellor, there were no visible or concrete indications to suggest that the preliminary processes, including media/newspaper advertisement for the position, for a new Vice-Chancellor for the University had commenced.

“The Governing Council of the University needs to be alerted on the negative consequences inherent in any further delay in kick-starting the processes of the appointment of the Principal Officers of the University whose tenures have expired, or are extinguishing, namely the Bursar, the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar and the Librarian. There is no gainsaying the fact that the delay could lead to a problematic situation where the whole group of Principal Officers of the University would be on acting capacity, given the fact that an Acting Bursar has already been appointed.”, the Union said.

The Union said it viewed the present development in the University as a potential source of crisis in the administration and management of the university “and a serious anathema in a University with a Governing Council”. According to the union, like other universities, and in consonance with the tradition and convention of the university, the Governing Council ought to have commenced the process for the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor six months to the expiration of the tenure of the present Vice-Chancellor, stressing that “In fact, in keeping with the tradition of the University and global best practices, a newly appointed Vice-Chancellor ought to be in waiting, leading to the expiration of the tenure of a Vice-Chancellor in office”.

ASUU AAU posited that that as a concerned major stakeholder in the University, it cannot pretend not to know, or feign ignorance about this development, hence this call for the Governing Council and government to take necessary actions.

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