OPINION

OPINION: THE RIVERS STATE UNIVERSITY VICE CHANCELLOR’S SACK: THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

Given that I was only a few months ago, a part of the Government of Rivers State and was what some would consider a vital part, irrespective of the reality of that, I am drawn to temper my public commentary with empathy for all parties, especially on the side of the government in order not to give the impression that I am at war with my former employers.

I am not at war with anyone. I am not at war with the Governor, a man I served diligently and passionately for the whole of his first term. There’s no basis to be at war with him.

However, of greater importance to me at this stage of my life is my service to Rivers State and our people, as a citizen of the Nigeria from the State. It is a service that has not ceased and will not end.

It is the same service to which politicians and political leaders swear allegiance to. As such, it is a service to which our collective loyalty is mutually assured. In that respect, I am not committing any crime to focus on something that is the ultimate goal of public service.

This preamble is necessary because the following lines and paragraphs may beg the issue of my loyalty to political systems. As I said in a different submission weeks ago, ultimate political loyalty in my view is to the State. This is why when political leaders whose loyalty to the State becomes questionable, they are ousted by it.

But this is not a submission on the ouster of a government or any political leadership. It is also not a submission on the credibility of my loyalty to Rivers State. If anything, it is a submission that strengthens the loyalty of both the political leadership and that of the citizenry to our beloved State. It should therefore be viewed as being in the best interest of Rivers State.

Having said the above as nicely as one can say so and with empathy to the political class in Rivers State, one must now delve into the nitty gritty of this submission.

The news of the sack of the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Rivers State University (RSU) by its Visitor was hailed by all who were not only embarrassed but peeved by the scathing pungence that pervaded the employment process at RSU, and to a large extent smeared the reputation of the institution. I was one of those who on hearing of the news of the VC’s sack hailed it as being a step in the right direction by the Visitor, the Governor of Rivers State.

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This was because I was also one of those who clearly put out a condemnation of the employment process and made a call for its audit on the basis of insinuations that it was compromised on ethnic and parochial grounds.

Moments after that commendation, I was swarmed by well intentioned rebuttals from stakeholders across Rivers State volunteering information on why the VC’s sack was a bad idea. Perhaps, I should have been quiet as I am now belabored by my conscience to ask important questions.

While, indeed I am not the Visitor to the University, and truthfully submit that I do not have all the information regarding the VC’s sack, I am nevertheless confronted with grave controversies given that he was sacked in relation to the botched employment process at RSU as the Government’s communication conveys.

If the information now available to me is accurate, it would be true that the Chairman Governing Council of RSU was directly responsible for the employment process of the University on the directive of the Visitor rather than the VC as we presumed.

If the information now available to me is accurate, the Chairman Governing Council did not transfer that responsibility by a further directive to the VC.

If the information now available to me is accurate, the VC received a list from the Rivers State Government and was directed by the Visitor to employ them.

If the information now available to me is accurate, the VC declined to endorse that process on the grounds that it would compromise standards at RSU.

If the information now available to me is accurate, upon the conclusion of the botched employment process by the Governing Council, the VC was directed by the Visitor to direct the Registrar of the University to issue Employment Letters to persons who in the VC’s estimation were either not qualified or didn’t follow through with the proper process of employment.

If the information now available to me is accurate the VC directed the registrar to act on previous memos on the issue of employment rather than issue employment letters, sensu stricto, as he was directed to do.

If the information now available to me is accurate, this created a stalemate until the VC was removed from office.

Based on the foregoing, one is drawn to ask that since it is established by incontrovertible facts that the Chairman Governing Council of RSU rather than the VC was in charge of the employment process, why was the VC sacked for allegedly compromising the employment process? Could it truly be that all of the above issues were true?

If so, does it not give credence to insinuations that the announcement of a suspension of the employment process at RSU does not translate to the cancellation and repeat of the botched process? Does it mean someone who could continue the already compromised process rather than restart it has been appointed?

If this is so, does it mean the Visitor is directly and personally compromising standards at RSU?

If this is so, does it not amount to a breach of public trust and violation of sworn oaths by the Visitor to do justice to all manner of men?

If this is so, does it not amount to abuse of office and an impeachable infraction?

People of God, men and brethren, I am hoping and believing most earnestly that this is not the case. I am believing that something other than what we know is responsible for the sack of the VC although government communication clearly puts the botched employment process as being the reason. While we await clarification, if any, the next line of actions at RSU will offer more insight on this very touchy and important issue, hopefully.

In the interim, I have withdrawn my commendation of the sack of the VC by the Visitor until all doubts are cleared and he can be clearly linked to infractions on due process at RSU, although I still hold that he would have been courageous to step aside amidst the controversies and saved his good name and reputation.

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