The Vice Chancellor Federal University Of Health Science Otukpo, Professor Innocent Ujah has sacked his deputy, a professor of microbiology, Prof. Ediga Agbo over alleged lack of cooperation.
Revealed that the Sack came barely two weeks after the VC poured encomium on Prof. Agbo, DVC as one of seven primary initiators of FUHSO
This not only generated fears but speculations that the Federal University of Health Science, Otukpo (FUHSO) in Benue State may be drawn in trouble water unless urgent steps are taken by the relevant stakeholders to halt the crisis that is silently brewing in the institution.
The crux of the matter is the personality crises between the Vice Chancellor, Professor Innocent Ujah and the deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Ediga Agbo.
It was gathered that the Vice Chancellor’s grouse is that he has become uncomfortable with the cooperation he is receiving from his deputy.
In a memo sent to Professor Agbo dated 29th December 2023 with Reference No. FUHSO/AO/03, the Registrar, Mallam Aminu Abba said the Vice Chancellor believed he was not getting total cooperation from the deputy Vice Chancellor and as a result, his appointment as deputy is terminated with effect from 23rd December 2023.
The memo titled “Re: Renewal of Appointment as the Deputy vice chancellor (Admin), reads: “The Deputy Vice chancellor (Admin) may please recall that his appointment as Deputy Vice chancellor was renewed on 29th November, 2022 with effect from 2nd October 2022. The position of Deputy Vice Chancellor is to assist the Vice Chancellor in the day-to-day smooth running of the University.
“The Vice Chancellor has observed that he is not getting total cooperation from you any longer. Therefore, he can no longer work with you as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration).
“In view of the above, your services as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Admin) is no longer required with effect from 22nd December 2023.”
Sources close to the institution intimated our Correspondent that the sack is generating tension as the deputy Vice Chancellor (Admin), Professor Ediga Agbo is the only indigene from the host community, Otukpo on the management of the federal university.
As gathered, the host community is set to disrupt academic activities at the University when it resumes from Christmas break.
Already, a group known as Otukpo Youth Forum, has reacted to the move to sack the deputy Vice Chancellor saying they will barricade all passages to the temporary campus at Otada, Otukpo as well as the University temporary offices at the former Double K hotel which the University acquired recently.
The leaders of the forum, representing each of the 11 clans of Otukpo, also said they would approach the Minister of Education to intervene and safe the university from what it called the draconic rule of Professor Innocent Ujah.
Our Correspondent reports that on the 15th of December 2023, Professor Ujah, in the first public lecture of the university, had acknowledged that the deputy Vice Chancellor Admin Professor Ediga Agbo was among the seven primary initiators of the institution and that it was great to have him as one of those midwifing the same institution which is just over 3 years old.
Prof. Agbo Reacts To Purported Removal As DVC FUSHO, saying that the VC acted without recourse to the university council, senate.
The professor of microbiology has immediately after receiving the sacked message equally wrote the registrar Registrar by the embattled deputy Vice Chancellor in response to his purported sack was obtained by NATIONAL ACCORD on Monday.
According to Ediga-Agbo, the embattled DVC (Admin), FUHSO, speaking after receiving letter of purported removal
dated 24th December 2023, in response told the Registrar as follows:
“Although, I wish you had advised the Vice-Chancellor against it, I thank you for the memo all the same, because it completely summarises the entire problem of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo (FUHSO), which is the fact that we are operating with extremely limited knowledge of university administration.”
The rest of the letter reads: “Your memo states that the Vice-Chancellor is not enjoying total cooperation from me. Let me state unequivocally that the Vice-Chancellor is receiving my full cooperation. My job is to assist him in running the university as was made clear in your memo. I am doing that. However, I cannot compel him to accept my input into everything he does as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the university. But I understand that I need to draw his attention when I observe that some actions are not proper. There have been quite a handful of such situations and because I had to point out the errors in those actions it has come to appear that he is not receiving my cooperation, even though I mean very well for him, and the university with every sense of responsibility and fairness.
“On the appropriateness of the action that has been taken, kindly allow me to refer you to Schedule 4 (6) of the FUHSO act, 2020: “The Deputy Vice Chancellor(s) may be removed from office by the Council, acting on the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor and Senate”. Even though I cannot force myself on the Vice-Chancellor as a Deputy to him there is something called the principle of fair hearing. I find your memo very humiliating and completely injurious to my fundamental rights as both a human being and an accomplished academic.
“ I do not believe that the Vice-Chancellor has the powers to summarily remove a Deputy Vice-Chancellor without a proper process. But that is and has been the only point of departure between the two of us and which he has come to E-mail: [email protected] GSM:+234 809 860 0543 describe as “not receiving total cooperation” today. He does not operate with recourse to any laid down norms and operates his own personal laws while treating the university like a personal estate. We have worked together for over three years, and my tenure as Deputy Vice-Chancellor has nine months to run out. If I have served the university and the Vice-Chancellor for one full term and 15 months out of a possible 24 months of a second tenure with only 9 months left, I deserve comprehensive fair hearing.
“I acknowledge the fact that I was nominated to fill the position of Deputy ViceChancellor by the Vice-Chancellor, and I am grateful to have been the recipient of that opportunity. Kindly allow me to recount that as part of the process of appointing me for the first tenure as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I refused to appear in and sit on the Governing Council till my appointment had been considered and approved by the Council before I was called in to take my seat. That was because I knew the proper procedure for such things. That was the kind of knowledge I brought with me to FUHSO. And it was my intention to use my knowledge to help the Vice-Chancellor to leave a solid legacy in the university.
“It is my firm belief that if the Vice-Chancellor felt very aggrieved by my lack of cooperation, he should have drawn my attention to the problem(s) rather than try to humiliate serially. And if he came to the conclusion that he needed to dispense with my services the proper thing would have been to make a report to the Governing Council citing my actions that amount to lack of cooperation and requesting them to remove me. A Council that is led with wisdom will give me fair hearing before relieving me of the position.
“The Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo has existed for about four years under the leadership of this Vice-Chancellor. There was a Governing Council in place for over 3 years. We did not take advantage of this to make a statute stipulating our conditions of service. In the absence of such document we have operated without any organised guidelines and our actions have been basically driven by the whims of the Vice-Chancellor. Most of the time, what we do are completely alien to established university norms. It is because I do not agree with such actions, most of which amount to illegalities that I am now seen as not giving “total cooperation.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me highlight some of the reasons why the ViceChancellor believes he has not been receiving total cooperation from me:
Since we started the university, we have never sat as Principal Officers to make a plan and assign responsibilities for ourselves. Personally, I have been operating with the knowledge of how a university is run from the experience I brought with me. In fact, remember that I pointed out that as Principal Officers we had had only three meetings for which we have never seen any minutes. There is no document anywhere, official or unofficial where any specific duties have been assigned to me.
He micromanages everything. The Vice-Chancellor is very secretive about matters and most of the time, we get to hear about some activities from the rumour mill and we are left stammering while trying to respond to questions without displaying our ignorance.
Well run universities operate on three committee systems, namely, Council Committees, Management Committees and Senate Committees. In almost four years of existence we are yet to fully organise. The Former Council Chairman forced the Council Committees at the last meeting (after three years of council existence) before the council was dissolved.
The Vice-Chancellor immediately discarded them, particularly the one that was charged with the responsibility to produce conditions of appointment and promotions for which he is the Chairman.
In almost four years of existence FUHSO has failed to produce a document containing conditions of service. Our university does not have an approved document specifying the conditions of service. In other universities, that document is driven and produced from the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration in consultation with all stakeholders before being put before Management and eventually, considered by other organs of the university for approval of both senate and council. I cannot understand why the process of developing ours is taking that long and is so secretly guarded, especially from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration. I am unable to speculate on why the document is being kept so secrete. In the absence of a guiding document many staff are left despondent because they are unsure of their fate.
The Vice-Chancellor appointed staff to professorial cadre and confirmed them without recourse to any instrument. He knows I have never supported the appointments which he went ahead to announce to an emergency senate session that he had secured confirmation for. He alone knows the instrument he gave the assessors to use for assessing the candidates because FUHSO does not have any. No prima facie cases were established for any of the staff. Apart from the interview which they attended, there was never a time that we sat to consider the results of the interview. So, the Vice-Chancellor constituted himself into departmental appointments and promotions committee, prima facie committee, Central Appointments and Promotions Committee, Council Appointments and Promotions Committee and confirmed the appointments. All by himself. If he sought the approval of the Honourable Minister of Education to confirm the professors on behalf of Council, it means the Minister was deceived. It is doubtful that the the Minister was consulted to approve on behalf of Council. Moreover, appointment or promotion of staff to professorial cadre is neither a matter of senate nor emergency.
The Vice-Chancellor himself went through the process of being promoted to a professorial rank, so, he cannot be ignorant of the proper process. On my part, I remain opposed to it. Professorial ranks are not handed out like dinner invitations.
As you are aware, the Vice-Chancellor repeated the same process on December 7th, 2023 when he, without prior notification invited us, Principal Officers to come and sit on a promotion exercise that was completely alien to university norm, whereby, he wanted us to just interact with some staff (both junior and senior staff) and then approve their promotions. No Annual Performance Evaluation Reports (APER), no recommendations from their immediate supervisors, no curriculum vitae, no confidential files of the staff. As far as I am concerned, it is because I objected to that process and subsequently left before the exercise commenced because he verbally insulted me that he has now come up with the accusation that he is not getting total support from me. Of course, he has my support always, and I will continue to support him. But I cannot support illegality. I am not called to support illegality. We (FUHSO) are gradually becoming the butt of jokes around town because of how the university is run and particularly because of our appointment criteria.
We all know that the Vice-Chancellor operates a highly secretive process whereby, no major plans of the university are discussed till they have been set in motion. Projects are considered by the Tenders Board (which is basically a carefully selected family and friends’ group) and then on to execution. None of his Deputies is privy to what he does about capital projects. On this note, may I draw attention to the rumour making the rounds that there is an attempt to build a community hospital in Aidogodo (his home village). You know we normally hear rumours first before they become fact. If this is true, he might need to be reminded about the insecurity of the road, the distance from the main university and the main fact that if that project is sited where there has not been any formal discussion/approval of Management or Council it is illegal. It is a rumour for now, but let me point out that without a decision of Management or Council, that project being taken to where it is rumoured to be headed is not correct. I am unmindful of the fact that the Vice-Chancellor reminds us that he does not owe anybody any explanations.
“Kindly allow me to point out that I have been in the university for 35 unbroken years, and I am in the 21st year of being a Professor. I am part of Nigeria’s national academic asset. A decision to humiliate a Professor should be carefully thought through and based on strong evidence of misdemeanour that brings his academic credentials, integrity and capacity to disrepute. I am experienced and I understand the principle of loyalty fully. I believe I am 100 percent loyal to the Vice-Chancellor. Part of being loyal is to tell him the truth and not blindly acquiesce to everything he does. I know the dividing line between loyalty to the system and loyalty to the Vice-Chancellor. I know that where loyalty to both the Vice-Chancellor and the system are at variance, I must of utmost necessity choose to be loyal to the system, because the system will outlive both of us and posterity will remember all of us for how we comported ourselves. Therefore, if in trying to point out to him politely that his actions are at variance with established university norms and do not portray FUHSO as a well-run system I am construed as not being loyal or not giving total cooperation I can only offer my most sincere apologies without deviating from the side of truth and the interest of FUHSO. I will not rubbish the fact that I am a properly appointed and experienced Professor of over 20 years. If he was being loyal to the system we would be in tandem and there would have been no conflict.
“I wish to clearly reiterate that, I believe that I am rendering full cooperation to the Vice-Chancellor as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, except that I will not support illegality and I will not fail to draw attention to it. I am a responsible person and I have complete loyalty to FUHSO and Nigeria.
“I would plead that the Vice-Chancellor be reminded by you to stop operating FUHSO like his personal estate and he has my respect and loyalty always.
“Finally, I wish to state that I understand the language of the memo clearly, and from my experience in the university system, please allow me to point out that it is heavily flawed, and I remain the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration until a Governing Council says otherwise, or the Honourable Minister of Education says otherwise on behalf of Council. I have full respect for his personal disposition and if he chooses that he cannot work with me and freezes me out, I will respect that too. But that would be operating outside the law too. I find the fact that I have to put these in writing most depressing. I feel particularly hurt and humiliated. But I apologise if any other person has to go through any form of emotional stress on account of this. I am committed to ensuring that FUHSO has a world-class image on a good foundation. If I have to suffer humiliation for it, so be it.
“Kindly accept my highest esteem, please’, the Professor of Microbiology, Ediga B. Agbo, Ph.D. FNSM, has added.