Edeoga’s modest strides at Michael Okpara varsity



Barely one week after it came to light that the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, which used to be University of Cross Rive State was yet to receive its take-off grant from the Federal Government 24 years after its take over, Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture  (MOUA), Umudike, Abia State also has a similar sour tale to tell.

Established in November 1992 as University of Agriculture, Umudike the school since metamorphosing into a federal institution has been battling tooth and nail to get its due from its new owners in the last 24 years but to no avail.

In fact, past and present governing councils as well as previous and present managements of the school have appealed to top government officials that have visited the university in the past, including committees on education from both arms of the National Assembly, governors, ministers to assist it get the Federal Government to release the statutory take-off grant without success.

When Senate Education Committee from the Seventh Senate led by the late Comrade Uche Chukwumerije visited the university, it expressed shock and disbelief over the non-release of the take-off grant. It vowed to investigate issue and thereafter cause the funds to be released. Nothing happened until its life-span elapsed.

That nothwitstanding, that committee after taking a tour of facilities at the institution commended the Vice Chancellor. Professor Hilary Odo Edeoga, for his resourcefulness and running the university effectively without neither the students nor academic and non-academic staff declaring trade disputes or industrial actions against his administration, other than those nationally declared, and embarked upon by their national bodies at different times.

Edeoga was appointed in 2011 after serving two terms as deputy vice chancellor, while the present governing council headed by Professor Anya Oko Anya, came into being in 2013.

Edeoga tenure, some say has witnessed some improvements in the institution academically and in terms of infrastructure just as the school is reputed to being the fastest growing federal university in the country.

In the “MOUA Score Card” for the period 2011 – date released recently by Anya, who is also the pro-chancellor of the institution, it was claimed that the university grew three times more than it did prior to 2011.

It also stated that the number of academic programmes, which was 43 in 2011 rose to 59 while the number of undergraduates increased from 7, 413 for the period under review to its present 20, 253 figure. Similarly, the number of postgraduate students rose from 1, 145 in 2011 to 1, 945 in 2015 bringing the total number of students on campus from 10, 976 in 2011 to 30, 602 in 2015.

There were also increases in the number of colleges and both teaching and non-teaching staff. Colleges, which were nine in 2011 increased to 13 in 2015; the number of teaching staff increased from 306 in 2011 to 771 in 2015 and non-teaching staff increased from 876 in 2011 to 1804 in 2015, bringing the total number of employees to its present 2,675 from the 1, 182 it was in 2011.

According to the scorecard, a total of 94 projects were set in motion out of which 81 were completed, some already commissioned, while others are awaiting commissioning and others at different stages of completion. Some of the completed projects were internal roads, library, laboratories, demonstration secondary school and tourism village.

The projects also include university FM radio station; 10 student hostels; college blocks; auditoriums; water boreholes; 40 intra-campus shuttle taxi cabs; five intra-campus coaster buses; two outside university shuttle buses and university micro finance bank among others, some of which were commissioned by the former president/visitor to the university, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan, who was represented by the then Education Minister, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai, praised on Edeoga for erecting 10 ultra-modern hostels and many other projects from the internally generated revenue.

The pro-chancellor attributed the multiplicity of projects to hard work, prudent management, determination, teamwork and zero inclination to corruption.

“Where there is corruption, project execution would not go on and be completed. Why we get TETFund’s backing is because we comply strictly with its policy of commencing projects, completing and accounting for them,” he revealed.

Anya, who decried the poor funding that universities in the country have had to contain with over the years said, “Many of the projects we did were funded by agencies of government like the Central Bank, TETFund, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) etc. Others, the school attracted in one way or the other. TETFund has given us more projects because we are very fast in executing and accounting for them. We also used other means to attract projects. This is made possible when you have a dynamic and resourceful vice chancellor like we have now.”

Beyond inadequate funding, he said the school was also faced with the problem of host communities reselling parcels of land belonging to the institution, which compensations had earlier been paid, while some communities do not allow the university free access to develop parts of its plots of land.

In introducing new academic courses including medicine, mass communications etc, the school also ensure that it hired appropriate personnel as well as improved on existing facilities or put in place new ones to support the new academic programmes.

As a way of engendering industrial harmony, both academic and non-academic staff got their promotions as at when due and were sponsored to training and retraining programmes, seminars and workshops both within the country and abroad.

Within the period under review, 26 academic staff were promoted professors; 10 associate professors; 126 staff got elevated, 34 appointed head and or acting heads of departments. A total of 77 academic staff benefited from training and development programmes; 237 staff benefited from TETFund-sponsored courses/trainings within Nigeria and abroad.

His modest strides notwithstanding, a section of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU-MOUA) accused Edeoga of nepotism, highhandedness, corrupt practices and disregard for approved rules in the discharge of his duties as vice chancellor.

But another faction of ASUU- MOUA in a seven-page document dismissed the allegations and accused Edeoga’s accusers of “elevating personal issues to union level and instigating chaos to discredit the vice chancellor.

The pro-chancellor while commenting on the allegations said some were only read on the pages of newspapers, and that it was the practice of the governing council to investigate and deal with matters formally lodged before it.

Director of MOUA Project and Revenue Development, Professor Nnamdi Anigbogu, while commenting on developments in the institution recently said, “The MOUA was in a state of rot before the team of Edeoga, and the Prof Anya-led governing council came on board.

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