Efio-Ita Nyok|7 April 2017
It's no more news that Mr Peter Agi, the ex-Bursar of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) had his appointment with the said institution terminated on 3rd November 2016. Recall that he was previously suspended on 22 August 2016. While some may have been made to believe before now that Agi's sack was a product of victimisation inspired by his attempts to introduce fiscal probity in UNICAL, however I have via some of my publications spoken truth to power consistently demonstrating hitherto that two things basically prompted the laying off of Agi: firstly, his failure to come to terms with the fact that the Vice-Chancellor 'is the Chief Executive Officer, the Accounting Officer and the final Approval Authority of the University'; secondly, Agi was 'inexperienced in the University system and lacked understanding of the things that mattered to the University'.
I have published copiously on the former charge of arrogance, insubordination, disrespect and usurpation of Vice-Chancellor's duties as Accounting Officer/CEO, Head of Procurement Planning Committee and Chairman of Tenders Board, and as final Approval Authority. Recently, I embarked on delineating the ignorance dimension that undermined the continued stay of ex-Bursar Agi as a principal officer of the University. In this publication I will push the frontiers of that theme a little further.
In a 20th January 2017 letter with reference number UC/VC/45.2 addressed to the Honourable Minister of Education and signed by the Vice-Chancellor of UNICAL, Professor Zana Itiunbe Akpagu, I isolated the following revealing phrases: 'Sir because of his inexperience in the University system and lack of understanding of the things that mattered to the University…', 'Again, it is an example of his attitude of… "I know more than anyone else". He cannot get along with anyone', 'It is this fundamental misunderstanding that pitches him against every Vice Chancellor he has worked with', etc —the recurring theme is IGNORANCE.
Further research has it that ex-Bursar Agi graduated from University in 2004. After a brief stint at the corporate financial sector he was employed by UNICAL and barely four years later was appointed Bursar of the University of Calabar on 7th April 2014 implying that he may have been employed sometime around 2010. Arguably, his appointment has been deemed as 'a recruitment error!'. Whether or not it was a recruitment error this unglorious end has justified the means. I will highlight an instance of the gross degree of ignorance exhibited by Agi and the concomitant implications both to him as Bursar and the affected University.
During the tenure of Professor James Epoke as Vice-Chancellor of UNICAL the University had 38 of her programmes up for accreditation by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC). In order not to loss accreditation of the said programmes there was need for the academic institution to make up for the deficiencies in the designated areas of staff/student ratio and staff mix. This necessitated the Council of the University of Calabar to direct then Bursar Peter Agi to procure two buses for the Department of Community Health and Department of Family Health as demanded by the accreditation team. Surprisingly, Agi refused to obey Council's directive. His characteristic disobedience cost the University —it lost the accreditation of the two departments! My interaction with him over this incident had him explaining that the purchase of two buses for these two departments was not captured in the budget of the University that year.
While the approach by ex-Bursar Agi in refusing to buy the buses must be commended I must confess especially considering his reasons, this question still begs for clarification —why wasn't there a supplementary budget considering the sensitive nature of what was at stake? Between fiscal probity and up-to-date accreditation of 38 programmes which was of utmost priority to the institution? Was Agi unaware of the fact that the University is basically an institution for research, teaching and learning? That by reason of these triune cardinal responsibilities having programmes that were accredited was paramount to the University?
I call this the Peter Agi Ignorance-glut and this had dire consequences. It took the necessary absence of a misinformation-glutted Agi to have these courses accredited after the buses were purchased by the school. To be honest I do not blame Agi for whatever misgivings that may have transpired during his stay; I rather heap my blame on the system that allowed such a 'juvenile' to occupy such principal office without the necessary knowledge-set.
The Agi-gate is a microcosm of the system/institutional failure of the Nigerian state. If the system kicked Agi out, Nigeria will soon butt her bad eggs out —we are at the fringes of such a revolution!
Is a social commentator