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Disquiet in UNICAL over VC’s refusal to allow deputies act

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University of Calabar

The decision by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), Prof Zana Akpagu, to hand over the running of the institution to the Chairman, Committee of Deans, Prof. B. I. Ita, while away on an official duty may have unsettled many in some quarters.

Some members of staff, who spoke with The Guardian on condition of anonymity, said the situation was strange and went against extant laws. They said the vice chancellor overreached himself by not handing over to either of the Deputy Vice Chancellors (DVCs) Administration and Academics, Profs. Ndifereke Udonwa and Florence Obi.

To them, the law establishing the university never envisaged power to be handed over to the chair of the committee of deans. Consequently, they petitioned the Chairman of the Governing Council, Senator Nkechi Nwaogu, to look into the matter.

The vice chancellor had, in a memo dated October 9, 2017 and titled, Absence from campus, said: “I wish to intimate the university community that I shall be away from campus for official duty with effect from October 11, 2017. During the period of my absence, Prof. B. I. Ita, Chairman, Committee of Deans, will oversee the affairs of the office of the Vice Chancellor. Please accord him the usual co-operation.”

The correspondence, which reportedly was not copied the governing council chairman, neither specified the length of absence nor the nature of the official event.

Curiously, both DVCs have kept mum over the development. Top members of the university community noted that the incident was first of such in history of the institution. They fear that there may be no love lost between the vice chancellor and his immediate deputies.

They said the worse scenario should have been the temporal relinquishment of leadership to the registrar. They held:  “The common story on campus is that the university is financial down even when 100 per cent school fees plus subvention are collected. The university overshot its budget for the year and no back up for approvals, suggesting lack of financial management. Council meetings not hosted for a long time due to lack of funds.”

Reacting, the institution’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Eyo Effiong Bassey said: “This is not an issue at all. The Chairman, Committee of Deans, can as well act for the vice chancellor. He does not have issues with the DVC (Administration).”

On whether his boss was covering up financial issues, Bassey retorted: “Cover up what and how? There is nothing like that, I do not think that one is a real issue, it is not an issue.”



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