Heads should Roll as UNICAL’s Filths are Cleansed : the First Labour of Prof. Florence Obi

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In December 2020 when Prof. Florence Banku Obi took the reins of leadership at the University of Calabar as the first female Vice Chancellor of that great citadel of learning, on her first week of resumption, she was faced with mountainous signal of distress as upshots of the malfeasances of successive administrations before her.

On that day, she reechoed idiomatically that it was no business as usual and that heads must roll if the soul of the institution must be saved as she did justice to questions fired by a herd of journalists. In taking up the gauntlet to answer such ‘save our souls’ call in the ivory tower, she must be psychologically, physically and spiritually ready to cut the Gordian knot through any means however necessary under the precinct of the law.

The rot in the university is enormous as the stench is acidically pungent. For years, there have been a compounding deteriorating of the system. A sort of Martinet is needed to instill better rules of operation. A Hercules may suffice in clearing the rubbish. Maybe M’ma Florence Obi is Unical’s Hercules.

According to the ancient Greek classical godlore, the fifth labour of Hercules was the arduous task of cleaning the Augean stables. Augeas was the king of Elis, a regional unit of Western Greece with its headquarters in Pyrgos.

Hercules was to perform this unpleasant, humiliating and near impossible assignment of cleaning the stables that had not been cleaned in over thirty years having about 3,000 oxen in a day. Legend has it that Hercules miraculously performed the task by channeling the water from rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the dirt. Hence, the phrase; ‘Herculean task.’

The Greece’s Hercules completed his task in a day. Unical’s Hercules may use a year, two or her entire tenure to complete her task. Carrying out this assignment means heads must roll. People’s heads should be called for. Mostly the heads of those found culpable should roll. People should be brought to book and made to face the wrath of the law for their administrative misconducts.

As we talk of misdemeanor, a particular case of reference comes to mind — a typical overview of the penultimate administration of Prof. Zana Akpagu. Zana’s administration witnessed improved aesthetic infrastructural development of the institution. Every day was a job fair in Unical. Many were engaged. Acceptance of every traditional titles as an incumbent VC was a great pastime — these titles are laurels . New faculties and departments were birthed. No failure of departmental accreditation by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Fair ranking of Unical amongst others. Winning of grants from international donors. These are laudable achievements and he deserves accolades.

However, under his superintendent, the school became a theatre of shenanigans; a centre for job racketeering and profiteering, an empire of incubating vendetta against dissentious individuals. Not a few critics and opposing voices were spared. They were either sacked, demoted or chased to the abyss by the strong man. The school was hostile like the rule of Balkan’s despots and harsh like the empire of the South Vietnamese communist Vietcong.

It was a commonplace that corruption was riff; financial impropriety, misappropriation of funds by individuals, lowered standard, systematic victimization and institutional prejudices were high. We heard of alleged sex for grade saga; voodoo and sorcery practices. Uriah Heepishness was glorified. The academic environment wore the similitude of Ariaria market’s gown. Anything could be bought or sold like chieftaincy titles {abi na lie?}

The then Bursar, Mr. Peter Agi, Dr. Joe Odok, Prof. James Okpiliya, Asso. Prof. Patrick Egaga, Mr. Daniel Joseph, Prof. Enu, Dr. Simon Ajom, Dr. Ushie, Prof. Bibi Mensah, Prof. Kyrian Ojong, and few others fell by his sword. Very sad to say! This reminds me of the rise and fall of Hitler’s Nazi regime. Fascistic!

Back to the crux of the piece after a nosedive on the past administration. Prof. Florence Obi, in keeping with her words have taken action. Heads have started rolling. So far, three heads appear to be rolling. Many people are of the opinion that the action was done without minding whose ox is gored. Top on the list is the suspension of the Bursar, Dr. (Mrs.) Beatrice Igwe. Her suspension is ‘a case of injustice in the ivory tower’ according to one Mr. Bassey Edet Asuquo, a fictitious public affairs analysts. Very fallacious! Asuquo is a hasty judge. His piece reminds me of the writings of enfants terrible and rabble rousers.

Dr. Beatrice was appointed sometime in January 2017 and ought to run through January 2022. But the University Governing Council under the chairmanship of Sen. Nkechi Justina Nwaogu suspended her on December 22, 2020 over an act of ‘official misconduct’. An alleged crime committed during the VCship of Prof. Zana Akpagu.

If Zana removed Mr. Peter Agi on alleged official misconduct, then nothing is wrong if Mrs. Igwe goes the same way if found guilty. Though, committee have been constituted to investigate many individuals. I pray their reports should be be uncompromising like two edged sword.

Another person hit by Prof. Obi’s Herculean hammer is Mr. Jarlath Abang, the former Chief Security Officer of the University. He’s an indigene of Boki LGA — where Obi comes from. His suspension may be connected to the looting and vandalization of properties in Unical after the #EndSars riot. I pray they’re reinstated if cleared of any wrongdoing.

A close look at the Vice Chancellor reveals an image of a typical Martinet. Her eyes are red and focused searching for those polluting the system. She’s not smiling until the stables are cleansed. She goes about like a compound mistress looking for defaulters to be used as deterrents. That’s what is needed at the vicissitude of this juncture. Another way of cleaning the Augean stables is to reinstate or compensate those that were unjustly sacked, demoted or indefinitely suspended by previous administration(s).

Comr. (Hon) Ogar Emmanuel Oko
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