Tension over AEFUNAI VC Post as Professors from Ebonyi allegedly schemed out


By Our Reporter

The contest for the Vice Chancellorship post of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, AE-FUNAI, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State has taken a dramatic turn in recent time following allegations that Ebonyi State indigenous Professors who applied for the post are gradually being schemed out by the powers that be to enable a non Ebonyi Professor emerge as the Vice Chancellor of the institution for the third time.

Meanwhile, Ebonyians in different places have raised the alarm over the development, even as group vowed to engage in open, but peaceful protest and demonstration to draw the attention of the federal government and other stakeholders to the anomalies that have allegedly marred the selection process.

The Federal University in Ebonyi State established about eleven years ago has had Professor Ibidapo Obe from the western region as the pioneer Vice Chancellor and Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba from Imo State as the second Vice Chancellor. Nwajiuba, the current Vice Chancellor is expected to handover to a new Vice Chancellor in February, 2021 when his 5-year tenure would have elapsed.

The Governing Council of the University through the office of the Registrar had advertised the post of the Vice Chancellor on 24th August, 2020 with clearly specified guidelines upon which applications were received from within and outside the institution’s Professors who considered themselves qualified, including those from the Council/Senate Joint Search Team. 

On this account, over 25 Ebonyi State indigenous Professors applied for the post while the total number of all applicants stood at 85.

A group known as Network of Concerned Citizens for Education Stability in Nigeria, Ebonyi State Chapter had raised the alarm, alleging connivance of the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba and his brother who is the Minister of State for Education to edge out all Ebonyi Professors who applied for the post to enable them install a non Ebonyi Professor as Vice Chancellor of the institution for the third time.

Eminent and ebullient Ebonyi State indigenous Professors who applied for the VC Post include; Prof. Aja Akpuru Aja, Prof. Michael Onuh, Prof. Sunday Elom, Prof. Ibiam Francis Onyekachi, Prof. Fidelis O. Okpata, Engr. Prof. Ugwu, Prof. Chukwu Edogu, Prof. Eugene Nweke, Prof. Michael Otuma, Prof. Okereke Oyari, Prof. Amah G. A., Prof. Happiness Oselebe, Prof. Mrs. Justina Mgbada, Prof. Benedict Mbam, Prof. Obini Ekpe, Prof. Joseph Afiukwa, Prof. Emeka Nwakpu and Prof. Okoro Ogbonnaya among others.

Reacting to the development, the Coordinator of the Network of Concerned Citizens for Education Stability in Nigeria, Ebonyi State Chapter, Dr. Ogbuagu Emeka Chima called on the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari as well as other critical stakeholders to ensure that the process of selecting the next Vice Chancellor of the institution is saved from manipulative tendencies and antics shrouding its secrecy by the powers that be even to the surprise of some council members who have noticed some elements of clandestine and selfish interests.

He therefore stressed that it would not be a crime to have Ebonyi Professor as the next Vice Chancellor of the University and expressed optimism that if the process is allowed to be transparent, nothing would make all applicants from Ebonyi State to lose out.

Ogbuagu decried a situation where non among the crops of Ebonyi Professors in the race as mentioned cannot be qualified to fit into the post of the Vice Chancellor and pointed out that such situation is a rape of the due process regarding the selection. 

He alleged that the process of selecting the next Vice Chancellor of the school in line with conventional law, ought to have been concluded this year 2020 as others did, but in order to perfect the alleged plot to scheme out Ebonyi people from emergence, the process is being dragged to January 2021 when the current VC should been preparing to hand over. 

Dr. Ogbuagu further argued that all the federal Universities established with FUNAI and others have gotten indigenous Vice Chancellors and wondered why that of the institution would be different when there are Ebonyi Professors qualified for the post. 

He stressed that it is a commonplace in line with conventional law of University administration that incoming Vic Chancellor would be successfully selected at least two months before the exit of the present one and however raised the alarm that irregularities have taken over the whole process and vowed to lead public peaceful protest if not checked.

“I wonder why out of the 25 Professors of Ebonyi State origin who applied for the Vice Chancellor’s post, we can’t find a qualified candidate after about 11 years of existence of the University in Ebonyi State. 

“It is no longer hidden that Prof. Nwajiuba and his brother, the Minister have vowed to use their powers and connections to impose a non indigene on the University as Vice Chancellor. Of course, I can state without fear of contradictions that the AE-FUNAI VC has severally said that Ebonyi State has not gotten a Professor with the capacity to be the Vice Chancellor of the University.

“I can give 10 names of federal universities, including those established at the same time with AE-FUNAI that are currently being headed by indigenous Vice Chancellors.

“Universities like UNN Nsukka’s VC is from Enugu State, UNIZIK’s VC from Anambra State, UNICAL VC from Cross River State, UNIUYO VC from Akwa Ibom State, UNILAG VC from Lagos State, MOUA VC from Abia State, Federal University, Lokoja VC from Kogi State and many others that have gotten indigenous Vice Chancellors.

“Why will the case of AE-FUNAI become different, just because people want to manipulate the system to favour their own interest, but we vow to resist that attempt. If the process is transparent and an Ebonyi man didn’t make it, we will not complain, but by all indications, the process is not transparent”, he stated.

He called on all Ebonyians to rise up and condemn the activities of those who are bent on denying Ebonyi their rightful benefits as that would likely lead to serious mayhem in the area.

“This warning is very stern and Ebonyians cannot allow injustice and manipulations to continue to deny them sensitive benefits. We call on the President, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council and indeed all stakeholders to hear this and call those involved in maneuvering the system against Ebonyi people to desist from it, else, we will be forced to match to the street in peaceful protest”, Dr. Ogbuagu further stated.

Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor’s reactions to the allegations could not be elicited at the time of filing this report as his phone line available to our news desk was switched off on several attempts.

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