Judex Okoro, Calabar

The Academy Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) chapter and Governor Ben Ayade are on the war path over the appointment of a substantive Vice Chancellor for the institution.

The civil servants have continued to occupy the House of Assembly complex in protest over the delisting of their names from the university’s payroll.

In February, 2019, the tenure of former Vice Chancellor Professor Anthony Owan Eno ended and the visitor to the University, Prof Ben Ayade, appointed an acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Akon Monday Joshua, and since then there has been no love lost between the union and the Governor.

In an interactive session with reporters, the ASUU Chairman, CRUTECH chapter, Emmanuel Ettah, disclosed that the tenure of the current Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joshua, ends on Thursday, November 7, and they expect the Governor to appoint one from among the five names that have been submitted by the institution’s Governing Council to him as a visitor to the institution.

Ettah, however, said that there is a grand plot to appoint an Acting Vice Chancellor outside the five names submitted to Governor Ayade, vowing that they would not fail to cripple academic activities if due process was not followed in appointing a new Vice Chancellor for the institution

In readiness for a long drawn battle, the union leadership has directed that all student examination scripts be returned to the VC’s office until a new Acting VC takes over, adding that the scripts, including those for final year students, would not be marked if the government fails to follow due process.

“On Thursday, November 7, 2019 will be 6 months when the Zcting VC, Prof. Akon Monday Joshua, was appointed to pilot the affairs of the University. Before then, the Council was not constituted. But a month ago, the Governing Council was newly constituted led by Dr Emil Inyang. By law, she cannot continue and neither be reappointed,” he said.

“Five names have been forwarded and we are aware from a reliable source that the visitor wants to appoint an Acting VC outside that list. And that would be a breach to the University Miscellaneous Act, 2003. Our action as a union is not to oppose government, but to inform the government that due process is involved and should be followed through in appointing a Vice Chancellor.

“So the union feels that if that is done, the autonomy of the University as entrenched in the constitution as well as in the 2009 agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government will be eroded and that might lead to litigation. We think that it is proper for government to follow due process, but if they refuse to follow due process, we will not go to sleep, we will wait for them as they are waiting for us,” he stated.

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Reacting, the Chairman of CRUTECH Governing Council, Dr Emil Inyang, said: “The Council has been working in line with the law governing the institution and in consideration that the Governor is the visitor to the institution.

On the issue of appointing an acting Vice Chancellor, he said: “The law permits us to appoint an acting VC from anywhere and for another three months. So, ASUU should be patient with the Governor.”

Also registering their angst against the ill treatment meted out on them, about 150 lecturers from the Cross River State College of Education and College of Health Technology staged a protest to the House of Assembly to demand their re-instatement into service and payment of their October and September salaries.

The lecturers are members of various unions, including the Academic Staff of Colleges of Education, Senior Staff Association of Polytechnics and Senior Staff Association of Colleges of Education.

The union members together with about 500 teachers, who have vowed to occupy the House of Assembly building until their demands are met, carried placards with various inscriptions such including “reinstate our names into payroll”, “we were sacked unjustly,” and “pay us our September and October salaries”.

Speaking on behalf of the lecturers, the National Assistant Secretary, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics, Mr Emmanuel Nyador, said they are no longer comfortable with the decision of the state government.

Nyador said the unions are not against the state government audit to delete ghost workers from the state payroll, but that 150 lecturers have been sacked unjustly, appealing to the lawmakers to ensure that names be reinstated into the state payroll as lecturers are essential requirements for the growth of any institution.

However, the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Eteng Jonah-Williams, promised that the Assembly will set up a committee to dialogue with the leadership of the unions and transmit the resolution to the governor within one week.

On Tuesday, November 5, 500 science teachers also held a protest at the Governor’s office, demanding immediate re-instatement and payment of their stopped two months’ salaries.