Why Professors Are Excited With Agi's Removal By Inyali Peter

Mr. Peter Agi, UNICAL Ex-Bursar
While a few people who are not very familiar with the details of why the Management and Governing Council of the University of Calabar, Calabar axed Peter Agi as Bursar, the excitement of Professors in the university have been overwhelming, investigation has revealed. This may not be unconnected to the harsh treatment they suffered in the hands of the former bursar.

In African context, it's almost sacrilegious for people to celebrate the downfall of others. But in the case of Agi, the feelings among the top academics of the university have been that of great excitement rather than pity or sympathy. 

Curious to uncover the reason behind this unusual development, findings shows that throughout Agi's reign, he showed little or no respect to people who have attained the highest academic ranks. When he was not directly insulting them, he is cutting down on well considered approvals already made by the Vice Chancellor for them.

No doubt, by administrative ranking, the bursar is higher than Professors. But in academics which is the real essence of the university's existence, the rank of a Professor is second to non. It command unquestionable and unprecedented respect. In fact, Professors are to a university what political parties are to politicians. 

In a political setting, any politician who decides to disrespect or abuse the party leadership is bound to have problems. In most cases, such person would either be removed from office, suspended from the party or troubled. A good example is the many trials hanging on the neck of the Senate President, Senator Burkola Saraki who undermined the party in the build up to the national assembly elections.

While the allegations of corruption leveled against him (Saraki) may be true or false, his CCB trial among others are the prices he's paying for undermining the party. 

More so, just like no politician can aspire to a position in Nigeria without a political party, that's how much a university cannot grow smoothly without Professors,hence they are treated like first class citizens and the conscience of any academic institution that they are.

But in his usual bravado, Agi subjected Professors and other senior staff of the university to some undescribable inundating situations. Many of them slept under open roof, decayed and dilapidated apartments as a result of the Ex-Bursar denial to release funds approved for repairs of their official apartment. 

Even when approvals are given, Agi most times cut them down or will refuse to mobilize the contractors. A typical example is the case of Prof. Ogunjimi Olusegun. The Professor had in an emotional letter addressed to the vice chancellor pleaded with the school authority to consider rehabilitating his official residential apartment (A3/12, State Housing Estate). He described the stage of his apartment in an emotional tone as "a nightmare and the worst since I took over the residence".

Understanding the situation, the Vice Chancellor promptly approved the request and the university tender board awarded the contract. But to everybody's greatest bewilderment, Agi refused to release funds for the repairs leaving the Professor stranded and embarrassed. When asked to explain, as usual, he couldn't offer any satisfactory explanation.

Prof. Olusegun is an example of many other senior staff who suffered this inhumane treatment in the hands of a man who was their students. In some cases that he (Agi) decides to release funds, he release what is grossly below what was approved thereby making is difficult and impossible for contractors to finish the work as at when due or leave the rehabilitation half way.

The University ASUU had described this in a petition to the investigation panel as " Mindless arrogance and unconscionable rudeness to Professors, functionaries, colleagues and staff". ASUU quarrelled that the Ex-Bursar's self-importance was quite legendary. 

ASUU noted that the Union lost count to reports of his rudeness to, insults heaped on and indignity meted to Heads of Departments, Deans of Facilities, Directors and other functionaries including Professors which to them is unforgivable. 

Agi was deservedly accused in the letter of famously condescending, overbearing and dismissive in his attitude to staff who approach him to seek information about their legitimate entitlements, irrespective of their status. 

His display generally deeply affected morale among committed university functionaries, lead to deep resentment among Professors and the generality of staff and created unease, unnecessary anger and tension in the institution.

This explain why some senior staff of the university have insisted that even if the current VC, Prof. Zana Akpagu halt his development strides or were to do nothing for the university, his courage to sacrifice his friendship with Agi to protect the soul of the institution is the greatest achievement any VC would have attained. 

A Professor who spoke in confidence said that, "I was personally a victim of his arrogance; don't forget he used to be my student. Degrees are awarded in Character and learning, how the university managed to award him degree to include character I don't know. By my rating, Agi would have been awarded degree only in learning because he's very intelligent, you can't take that away from him.

"We're happy that he was sacked. As you can see now, everything is working smoothly despite the artificial internal wrangling which we suspect him seriously of sponsoring. Today, the residential apartments of most of us are under rehabilitation. This wouldn't have happened, not smoothly like we see now with Agi as the bursar. So we're happy and we will continue to be grateful to our courageous Vice Chancellor".

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