|Mr. Peter Agi|
Efio-Ita Nyok|14 April 2017
In a 6th September 2016 memorandum addressed to the Secretary, Panel of Investigation on the Activities of the Bursar [Peter Agi] by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Calabar Branch [ASUU UCB] signed by Dr. Tony Eyang and Dr. Jonas Akung, ASUU UCB Chair and Secretary respectively nine features were highlighted bordering on the official activities of ex-Bursar Peter Agi. My interest in the content of the memorandum is the third point raised by ASUU UCB labeled, ‘Frustration of Staff Development Programmes, Academic Conferences, Workshops, etc’.
Under this point, four paragraphs were employed to elaborate how Agi frustrated staff development programmes and related activities. In the beginning paragraph we have this phrase —’The Union is persuaded that the Bursar, sadly, knows little or nothing about the basic requirements for the strengthening of academic programmes and improvement of the quality of teaching staff.’ The challenge of ignorance or what I refer to as the Peter Agi ignorance-glut (PAIG) is instructively incisive. Recall that I had recently embarked on a series delineating the ignorance dimension to the Agi-gate. With respect to the latter, I have argued that beyond the fact that the former Bursar’s sack was prompted by his failure to acknowledge that the Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Executive Officer, the Accounting Officer and the final Approval Authority of the University of Calabar a situation that resulted into his insubordination, arrogance, disrespect and usurpation of Vice-Chancellor’s duties as Accounting Officer/CEO, Head of Procurement Planning Committee and Chairman of Tenders Board, etc the other perspective to the saga is that the former Bursar was ignorant especially of the things that mattered to an academic institution as University of Calabar [UNICAL].
According to the said memorandum, ASUU UCB argued that Agi had a penchant for ‘gross disregard for approvals duly granted to staff to engage in further studies, attend conferences and workshops.’ This trend has been adjudged as ‘sabotage to the health of the system’. Normally, allowances for conferences and workshops are paid before the beneficiaries proceed for such events. However, as a result of Agi’s insensitivity, staff strive to raise funds, more often than not borrowing, to attend these events. They are not paid by the Bursar to as latter as two years after the events have held despite proper approvals granted by appropriate authorities.
Permit me to quote copiously from the said document: ‘Some staff, particularly those on TETFUND sponsorship, are constrained to abandon their studies [including those studying abroad] to come home to pursue the payment of their legitimate fees and other allowances for months. Often they go away with neither success, nor the soothing understanding or accessibility of a sensitive Bursar.
‘Department that manage to organise conferences are thoroughly embarrassed right in the middle of the event as the little assistance approved for them cannot be accessed, having been withheld by the Bursar. Even funds to fuel vehicles assigned to them to support conferees would be withheld by him. Yet, when academic staff of the University attend such conferences elsewhere [even in universities that have no basis for comparison with ours] the presence of the University is felt all through. These attitudes arising from the Bursar’s insensitivity or outright ignorance subject our University to ridicule and sadly discourages Departments from organising conferences and deepening their competence…
‘It is important to add, here, that academic conferences and workshops are the testing grounds for researched knowledge. Without them, a University exists merely in name. The Bursar’s subvention of the very basis of a university’s existence —research. No university can truly exist outside the context of research and anybody within the system, let alone a Principal Officer, who subvert research is not only an enemy of the system but has absolutely no place in it —not even as a cleaner.’, it concludes.
It’s saddening that a principal officer of a Bursar’s standing couldn’t come to terms, knowledge wise, with the things that mattered to a tertiary academic institution of UNICAL’s stature. How sad!
Is a social commentator