Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 19 August 2012 | 4,016 times
Those hoping for a quick resolution of the current strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) branch, may be in for a shocker as the national body of the union has warned that the industrial action would not be called off until Governor Chibuike Amaechi observes due process in appointing a new Vice Chancellor (VC) for the institution.
ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, gave the warning in Umuahia, Abia State. Addressing newsmen Saturday, he accused Amaechi of stirring the crisis by breaking the legal procedures for appointment of a new VC.
Fagge called on major stakeholders and the people of Rivers State to prevail on the governor, who is also the Visitor to the school, to respects the laws and relevant statutes of RSUST for peace to reign.
Fagge spoke through the National Financial Secretary of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke. He said the law provides that in the absence of a substantive VC, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) becomes the Acting VC.
“As a Union, we condemn the flagrant violation of the laws and statutes of the university by the Visitor, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi,” Osodeke said.
RSUST was, last week, plunged into industrial crisis following last July reappointment of Prof. Barineme Fakae as the Acting Vice Chancellor after he had just served out four-year tenure as substantive VC.
Prof. Fakae came to the stage in 2007 when he was appointed Acting VC of RSUST, and in 2008, Amaechi, allegedly unilaterally appointed him as the substantive VC of the university without following due process.
RSUST ASUU branch wanted to revolt, but the governor was said to have graced their congress and apologised to them for breaching the due process and promised not to do so again.
It was learnt that based on this, ASUU reasoned that for the governor to come to their congress was a big honour and accepted his apology but not without warning him against a repeat of such action in future.
But Osodeke recalled that “towards the end of Fakae’s tenure, the process for appointing a new VC commenced. There was advertisement, a selection committee, made up of two members of Senate and three members of Council and the Pro-chancellor, Justice Karibi Whyte (rtd.), as chairman, was put in place to select a new VC.
He continued: “At the end of the interview, the present VC came fifth and by the law, the Committee is supposed to recommend the first three to the governor for him to select one.
“And as soon as he (Fakae) came fifth, the governor dissolved the selection committee which is strange. He did not allow the process to finish and dissolved the Council. At the end of the tenure of the VC, the governor reappointed him (Fakae) as Acting VC.
“You can see the process – Acting VC, substantive VC and reverting to Acting VC when their (RSUST) law is very clear. If the VC is not available, the Deputy Vice Chancellor automatically becomes Acting VC but he (Amaechi) broke that law again. So, based on that, our branch then declared a strike.”
The Professor of Soil Science said the National executive of ASUU despatched a delegation to RSUST and a congress was convened on August 15 to address the challenges facing RSUST occasioned by the illegal appointment of Fakae as Acting VC.
He lamented that the congress was violently disrupted by a detachment of fully armed Policemen, accompanied by a truck load of hoodlums who also attacked and wounded the RSUST branch chairman of ASUU, Dr. Felix Igwe who was still being hospitalised as at press time.
ASUU said the disruption was a violation of its members’ right to freedom of association.
As a product of the Judiciary, Osodeke said ASUU least expected Amaechi to indulge in lawlessness. “The last governor we expect to show this type of lawlessness is Amaechi because he is the biggest beneficiary of the rule of law. We know how he became the governor the first time. The Supreme Court gave a judgement that made him governor without contesting election. We thought such a person would not be involving himself in this type of impunity,” he said.
He reminded the governor that “when you break the law, you create room for anarchy,” and urged the people to rise and defend the only Rivers State-owned university.
“The strike will continue until the governor sets up a proper process of selecting a VC and also follow the law and appoint an Acting VC in the interim.
“ASUU has nothing against Fakae as a person. We are saying that the process that brought him is not the right process and is not good for a democratic process,” he said.
*Photo: ASUU chief, Prof. Osodeke
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