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Employment Issue In UNICAL : Where Agi Got It Wrong By Inyali Peter

Mr. Peter Agi, UNICAL Ex-Bursar

One of the critical issues raised by the University of Calabar, UNICAL Ex-Bursar, Peter Agi in his petition to the Honourable Minister of Education against the university over what he "Unjust" termination of his appointment is the issue of employment. The petition was written on the 20th of December 2016.

In the petition, Agi accused the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Zana Akpagu of recruiting people without budgetary backing. He said,  his ordeal started when he advised against it as the employment came at a time the university was gasping over epileptic allocation.

While there is substance in his position that the university actually employed, Agi got it all wrong by failing to substantiate his allegation of over employment. 

Perhaps, the worrying situation where staff of the institution have been receiving 70-80% of their salaries almost gave credence to Agi's voodoo allegations if not that findings have shown that only four federal universities in Nigeria have been able to sustain full payment of salaries in the past nine months. 

But even if it was a peculiar situation to UNICAL, it won't be a surprise to those who have the right information about the recklessness and monumental fraud that bedeviled the institution under Agi's regime as bursar. 

He said in his petition that the monthly emolument of the 276 staff he accused the VC of "over recruiting" is N38.2 million. Agi said the university cannot afford it because of the low IGR. The Ex-Bursar however failed to note that if he returns the over N200 million he allegedly defrauded the university from operating secret fee portal to the institution's accused, it would help to pay over seven months salaries of these staff.

On low IGR of the institution, Agi failed to brief the Honourable Minister that he converted the major revenue point of the university, the UNICAL International Secondary School to his private revenue point where he unilaterally ordered the transfer of large sum of money to unknown destinations. 

According to available documents, Agi in separate occasions ordered the transfer of N27 million, N15 million etc from the UNICAL secondary school account to unknown destination without the knowledge of the Chief Accounting Officer (Vice Chancellor) of the institution. 

In another development, over N3 million was tranfered from the school account to one Mrs. Isioma Agi who's not even a staff of the university. She's believed to be Agi's wife.

So with all these, why won't the university suffer low revenue generation? Why won't staff suffer half salaries? Obviously, the allegation was only an attempt to exonerate himself from the problem he created, nurtured and executed.

Besides, it is curious how Agi could make issue out of employment in the institution. May be this stem from his prideful and erroneous belief that permission ought to have taken from him before staff are employed. 

In one of his petitions against the VC, Agi mentioned the Federal Character Commission Acts as it relates to employment. Unfortunately, Agi failed to or refused to accept that the management interviewed and regularised all employed staff with FCC in attendance after duly obtaining certificate of compliance.

In a desperate move to malign the VC, Agi deliberately listed as "employment" staff on sabbatical leave, adjunct appointments and part-time appointments granted to most staff already on permanent or tenured employment with the university, full Bright scholars or other exchange staff etc. 

Sabbatical leave is a normal university practice while adjunct/part time lecturers attract N30, 000 per course taught. UNICAL lecturers too also go on sabbatical to other universities so one wonders how Agi made issue out of this.

Also, it is worthy to note that Under the VCship of Prof. Zana, the university have engaged in curricula expansion by establishing new faculties, departments and programs. 

Some of the programs include, Faculty of Engineering and Technology which has six departments to include, Agric Engineering, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering. Recall that UNICAL was the only second generalization university in the entire country without an engineering program.

Similarly, Zana has established the faculty of Pharmacy. There's also an Oceanography faculty with three departments. These are, Mariculture and Marine Fisheries Resources, Physical Oceanography and Biological Oceanography.

In addition, he has created Music, Fine and Applied Arts, Physiotherapy, Food science and Technology, and the social works departments. 

All these faculties and departments which berthed in a bid to making UNICAL offerings more relevant to Nigeria and the immediate community needed to employ staff to provide the critically needed man power.

In addition to this, before Agi's petition, the university had two sets of accreditation exercises and during the last one, 37 programs were under scrutiny. Hence, there was the unavailable need to make up for the deficiencies in the area of staff/students ratio to avoid loosing accreditation.

Nevertheless, with  the level of mortality rate among staff, retirements, transfer of service amongst others, the university need to constantly regenerate itself by occasionally replacing dead and retired staff.

Contrary to claims by Agi that the university cannot meet up the N38.2 million emolument of new staff, findings revealed that UNICAL financial analysis of dead, retired, dismissed staff and those on transfer of services saved the institution N35 million. This implies that, the university has not incurred any substantial additional cost from the employment Agi petitioned the VC about.

It is very unfortunate that Agi, rather than commend the VC for improving the employment figures and indexes despite the growing unemployment rate decided to feed the public with obnoxious information concocted to incte the university community and the general public against the VC for his well conceived ideas. 

Today, UNICAL is the highest employer of labour in Cross River state. The state is not blessed in terms of having industries, factories and other multi million organizations to create jobs for Cross Riverians. But it's appalling a young Cross Riverian who has benefited so much from the institution could petition the VC for engaging teeming unemployed youths.

Now that he has returned to the labour market like many who he fought against their engagement, would he gather the courage to apply for any job again after fighting that young people like him should remain on the street? Only time shall tell.
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