Lecturers give Okorocha ultimatum over poly relocation, pay, others
• Imo personalities fault governor’s decision
The Imo Polytechnic chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) has given Governor Rochas Okorocha seven to 14 days to relocate the Ehime Mbano council area-based institution to its original site of Umuagwo in Ohaji/Egbema Local Council of the state. The Imo chief executive had upgraded the school to a University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and subsequently re-sited it.
Rising yesterday from an emergency meeting in Owerri, the congress, in a communiqué issued by its chairman, Dr. Desmond Echeta, rejected the relocation on the grounds that relevant stakeholders, including the teaching and non-teaching staff, students and the host community, were not consulted.
The lecturers also deplored the continued delay in the payment of their seven-month arrears and withholding of their check off dues allegedly by the management for 23 months. The ASUP chapter therefore asked the governor to defray the salary backlog and other entitlements within the deadline, failing which they would seek a legal redress.
Echeta declared: “If they do not do all these, we can no longer guarantee industrial harmony. That means that we will down tools and this will happen in the next seven to 14 days.“What we want is upgrade of the institution, not relocation, because stakeholders, staff, management, students, host community were not consulted. We are owed seven months arrears in salaries. The institution has over 400 teaching staff and over 500 non-teaching staff. Our check-off dues deducted from our salaries are owed for 23 months. We want them paid. Congress condemns it. No financial promotion from 2015 till date. We no longer agree with non-payment of February, March April salaries. We are threatening legal action.”
On Monday, over 500 protesters and indigenes of Umuagwo communities had blocked the entrance of the institution expressing their disapproval of the pronounced relocation of the only higher institution in their area.The action was immediately termed to be politically motivated by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, in a statement where he also labelled the youths as ill informed.
However prominent citizens, including former Chief Librarian of Imo State University (IMSU) and stakeholder, Prof. Okey Okoro, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Mike Ahamba, have faulted the governor’s decision.According to Okoro, the government failed to do the needful before relocating the school.
He said the leaders and people of the area ought to have been consulted, dialogued with and sensitised on the move and other plans of the current administration.To the senior lawyer, the relocation was most unfortunate, unwarranted and unexpected.