By Ofonime Honesty

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes a tool” -Socrates

Just when it was thought that all and sundry have realized and appreciated the sterling dividends of the Prof. Eno James Ibanga’s administration in Akwa Ibom State University, few suddenly returned to their sponsored but long abandoned project of vilifying the Vice Chancellor.

In the past week, anyone who read newspapers, visited news websites and blogs must have come across a poorly cobbled negative report about Prof. Ibanga and the Akwa Ibom State University.

The locus of the said piece was that “staff under the aegis of Concerned Akwa Ibom University Staff have accused the Vice Chancellor of promoting the culture nepotism, bad administration and being insensitive to their plight.”

The said ‘concerned staff’ “vowed to take their protest to the governor’s office, the Nigerian University Commission and other relevant government agencies to press home their demand for the payment of the salaries’ arrears.”

Airing grievance on perceived injustice is a constitutional right of everyone, but when skewed, vendetta becomes the mission.

Verifiable evidence shows that 279 staff were arbitrarily employed when Prof. Okon Eminue held sway as VC. The administration of former Governor Godswill Akpabio gave approval for the employment of 120 staff, but the former management employed 279 which overlapped the salary budget of the institution. For sixteen long months under the previous administration, they worked without pay till the incumbent VC was appointed in 2015.

Prof. Ibanga upon resumption of office negotiated with government, and the 279 staff were captured in the budget starting from August 2015. Till date, their salaries are paid promptly, and the state government has NOT RELEASED MONEY FOR PAYMENT OF THE BACKLOG INCURRED DURING THE PRE-2015 ERA.

For record purposes, the aggrieved staff are tabling grievances at the wrong quarters, and this amounts to waiting for a ship at an airport. As caretaker of AKSU, he is supervised by the state government through the Ministry of Education. He is duty-bound to act in tandem with the state government, not otherwise.

In a bid to garnish their latest fiction, unsubstantiated claims of nepotism were added. The burden of proof lies with the accuser; bringing forth evidence might save the stress of churning out wild allegations.

The media, funded furiously by the traducers, have gone into overdrive in sensationalising the issue. It is ethically wrong for journalists to aid in maligning someone just on the grounds of sentiments and unfounded allegations.

What exactly has the VC done that they seem to pass judgement before he gets the chance to defend himself? I pray relevant authorities will not pander to the whims and caprices of vested interests and politically-induced bias.
Wise counsel should flow from its bosom.

Well, who wouldn’t make enemies with the level of administrative wizardry manifesting in AKSU? Observers hold that those who benefited from the rot of yesteryears, including his contemporaries and predecessors, now feel disgraced with what the current VC has achieved, especially making AKSU one of the most sought after tertiary institutions in the country.

Given prevailing economic realities, Prof. Ibanga runs an institution which generates revenue for itself to complement subvention by state government. Commercializing agro-based products has raked in revenue which has kept the institution running. There is a expansive beans farm, palm oil processing mill which produces six drums of oil monthly, feed mill, expansive fish pond with assorted breed of fishes, expansive piggery, massive cattle ranch with hordes of cattle, ultramodern poultry farm with a 1000 daily egg production capacity, tomatoes farm with a production capacity of thirty baskets every months, pineapple farm, vegetable farm, bee nursery, rabittry and others.

The foregoing provided large percentage of funds utilized for construction of infrastructures. Hostel accommodations, classrooms, access routes, libraries, science laboratories, state-of-the-art performing arts theatre, language laboratory, TV, Radio, Print/ Photographic Studios for Mass Communication students, Senate Chamber, an ultra modern storey edifice at the Obio Akpa Campus erected under the Needs Assessment Programme as well as the new administrative building at the main campus in Ikot Akpaden, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.

The strides are gigantic. From the status of a glorified secondary school to a notable ivory tower attracting plaudit from far and near.

Successful commencement of postgraduate programmes is another feather to the cap of the present management. The inauguration came on the heels of the postgraduate training for almost 70 members of staff in universities in Europe, North America and Singapore.

Space won’t contain further highlights of the VC’s antecedents in office. It must however be stressed that the latest act of false alarm raised by few traducers is dead on arrival. The pull-him-down-and-out campaign against Prof. Ibanga is an exercise in futility.

Akwa Ibom State University is marching on to greatness; no form conspiracy can reverse it.
Prof. Eno James Ibanga is exhibiting unbeknownst administrative wizardry; no form of blackmail can erase the fact.

Let’s doff our hat for the VC!

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