From Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia
Palpable fear has enveloped Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State, following a circular making the rounds in the university community, that over 460 temporary workers of the institution will be sacked.
The affected staff were those employed at the tail end of Prof. Hilary Edoga’s tenure, the immediate past vice chancellor of the university. While those affected are seeing the development as absurd, the university authorities, which ordered that they should reapply for renewal of their appointment stated that all those concerned have had their tenure elapsed.
The development has created fear among the affected workers as nobody is sure whether it is with good intention. The news of the reapplication was made public following a circular dated April 28, 2017, signed by the university Registrar, Dr. Azubuike Nwaokacha.
“Following the resolution at the family meeting held on the 27 th April 2017, All staff on temporary appointment and whose appointment had elapsed are here by requested to apply for renewal of Temporary appointment,” the circular stated.
“The application should be addressed to the registrar through the HOd and Dean. The supervising officers should give cogent reasons why the applicant’s Temporary appointment should be renewed”.
The circular had directed the applicants to include photocopy of their letter of appointment and curriculum vita, it added that the receipt of application closes one week from the 4th may 2017.
A source closed to the university management who spoke to the Punch on the condition of anonymity alleged that some big wigs in the University who were out of favour with former Vice chancellor of the University Professor Hillary Edeoga were those responsible for the current directive.
The source said the cabal has not hidden their wish for the current Vice chancellor Professor Frances Otunta to sack some workers employed during the wee hours of Edeoga administration to enable them replace such workers with their cronies.
One of affected staff who pleaded anonymity stated that the current development is as a result of calculated efforts to sack some workers from the University.
He stated that those affected ought to have been invited for regularization, but the process was intentionally delayed to root some workers out of the system.
The public Relation officer of the University Mrs. Adanma Odefa said that the Vice Chancellor does not intend to sack anybody, but is just following the procedure of doing things according to rules of the University.
She said that those affected are not staff of the university and since they were hired illegally by the past administration of University,
there is bit of a mess that need to be sorted out.
“It didn’t just start with this administration, the Professor Hillary Edeoga administration hired over 460 people improperly without going the through the right procedure. They were given Temporary appointment and the procedure usually is when a staff has a temporary appointment it elapses automatically after one year if it is not renewed”, she explained.
She explained further that the appointments in question elapsed on February this year, “but because of human face and the present economic realities in the country, the University still paid these staff for the month of March, she said.
She said that the University can no longer continue to pay this people who are no longer in their employment.
“They are no longer employees of the University technically; you can’t be paying people who are not your employees”, Odefa said.