•Workers accuse rector of nepotism, insensitivity •There was nothing wrong with steps I took –Rector
From Okey Sampson, Aba
Serious war of attrition is brewing at the Abia College of Health Sciences and Management Technology (ASCHSMT), Aba, with workers set to tackle the rector of the institution, Prof. Chidi Felix Ezeama over what they described as the rector’s indiscriminate employment policy which according to them negates the stand of the state government.
Other allegations that the workers levelled against the rector include nepotism, and general lack of “idea of how to manage a post-secondary education institution”. The workers’ whine against the Rector who was drafted from Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Umuahia on June 10, 2016 to manage and reposition the institution, began in January this year.
Prof. Ezeama had, on January 4, 2017, forwarded a letter to the Governor of the state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, requesting for a waiver to employ more hands to strengthen the staff. On January 25, through a letter with reference number GHA/42/S.429/1/187 and signed by Sir, Onyii Wamah, Permanent Secretary, Government House, Umuahia, approval was given the Rector to employ staff as follows: Nurses; 3, community health workers; 7, health information management; 3, and laboratory technicians; 5. Others include cleaner/orderly; 4, messengers; 3, council chairman’s candidates; 3 and other categories of workers; 14, bringing the total number to 42.
However, the workers became agitated when they discovered that the rector allegedly went outside the waiver given him by the state government to employ additional 24 workers including his wife, Ezeama Akpaego Nwaogbu; his daughter, Chidi Ezeama Nnenna Ellen and his son-in-law, Jonadab Obidiya Shulammite. Another list of 34 that would bring the total number of those employed by the rector between June 10 and now to 100, the workers say, is in the offing.
“He has employed about 100 persons and the worst aspect of it is that the employment is not skewered along the need of the college,” one of the workers said. “By the time he was coming in, there was a visitation panel set up by the governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. In their report, they said that our college was short-staffed with academic staff but overloaded with non-academic staff. We have about 167 or 170 staff, only 30 are academic staff, the rest are non-academic staff. So, the visitation panel directed that more employment should be along academic area, which is the thing that gives the college the revenue. Unfortunately, the Rector came. The first thing he did was to begin to employ indiscriminately. He employed the first 27, another 24 in January and he is employing another 42 now, bringing the finances of the college to a near collapse.”
The source continued: “The unfortunate aspect of it is that the number of students is going down because of the present recession in the country. We do not have enough manpower in the area of academics. We have over-bloated number of staff in the area of non-academics. The man does not even look at the statistics to know whether there is any need for academic staff. The funniest part of it is that the employment of the rector was tailored along the line of his immediate family- his wife, his daughter, his son-in-law and his other relations and in-laws.”
The workers are not taking lightly the report that the rector allegedly engaged his wife who retired from Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) in October last year on alleged health grounds and placed her above others. “Those who are supposed to be above her are now under her financially and these employments do not usually pass through the normal process of bureaucracy which involves advertisement which will enable other people to apply”.
“We are surprised that the same rector claimed that the governor directed that there should not be any employment any more because those already working are not being paid, but why he is employing now is what we don’t know. The man is trying to make this place look like Abia Poly. The governor went on air the other day to say the type of employment in Abia Poly was bad and everybody knows it and they are trying to prune it down. In our own case, the rector is busy employing people without even considering the needs of the college and the money with which to pay them. As we speak with you, our subvention is N10m a month and the amount is not even enough to pay those who are there already not to talk of those being currently employed.”
Apart from the employment issue, the workers accuse the rector of not being able to sit down and articulate the goals of the college properly and to know how to go about them. They cited the instance of a rainstorm in March this year which blew away the roof of the college’s ICT building and wondered why nothing has been done till the moment to effect repairs. “The students are learning in very un-conducive environment and the rector is not making any effort in that area,” a source alleged. “As a professor, one would have expected he would take academics very, very important, but unfortunately, his major priority is employment and those who are employed are not being paid. As at March this year, we were owed six months salary and by the end of April, it will be seven months salary arrears and yet someone is indiscriminately employing more staff.”
When contacted, Prof. Ezeama dismissed the allegations against him with a wave of hand. He said that contrary to insinuations by his critics, all the appointments he has made since he came on board as the rector of the college were done in tandem with the express mandate given him by the state government. On the allegations about employment of his wife and daughter, he asked The Sun Education: “Is it wrong now for my wife and daughter to work in the same college I am heading? My wife is a contract staff and she got the job purely on merit.”
The rector added that those who are complaining are doing so because he blocked revenue leakages in the areas where they were milking the college dry.