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OPINION : CRUTECH VCship : My findings By Inyali Peter

In the past few days, I've read some quite surprising and shocking remarks about the vacant Vice Chancellorship position in Cross River State only owned University, Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH.

Most shocking of all the arguments of course are those advanced by the Southern Senatorial District of Cross River. Many of the commentators who have voiced their opinions have argued that, since the Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade is from Obudu (North) and University of Calabar VC, Prof. Zana Akpagu also Obudu, the position should be zoned to the south.

As illogical as it sounds, they have managed to make their arguments get some attention on social media. I give them kodus for building such public opinion but the reality is that the positions of Unical VC and Governor have never  been factors that determine how key positions are shared among the three Senatorial Districts. 

Having been part of CRUTECH at different levels in the past eleven years, I strongly believe that I'm very qualified to talk about issues like this! 

CRUTECH was established in 2002 by the administration of Mr. Donald Duke. Prof. Kelvin Ogon Etta  from the Central Senatorial District was appointed by the then administration as the pioneer Vice Chancellor. After serving his tenure, Prof. Ikpi Ekanem Braide succeeded him! She was succeeded by Prof. Eneobong Enobong from the South Senatorial District. The immediate past VC, Prof. Anthony Owan Enoh took over from Prof. Eneobong in 2013.

No point to talk much about the tenures of Professors Ikpi and Ettah as CRUTECH VCs because the University was at its formative years during their tenures. However, it's instructive to add that after their tenures, the sentiments of zoning played key role in the appointments of VCs that followed.

After the tenure of Prof. Ikpi,  during the processes leading to the appointment of Prof. Eneobong, the argument of zoning was seriously advanced. After he served his tenure, same sentiments played in the appointment of his successor, Prof. Owan-Enoh.

Now, for those who are using the Unical VC position to advance their argument on why the north shouldn't produce the next VC, it's pertinent to note that it's not the state Governor that appoints VC for Unical. Unical is a federal institution which has the President as the visitor while the Governor is the visitor to CRUTECH.

Nevertheless, it was only Donald Duke that appointed a VC for CRUTECH from another Senatorial District outside his. Prof. Ikpi that served as VC during part of former Governor Liyel Imoke's administration is from central just like Imoke. After her tenure, Imoke appointed another person from central, Prof. Owan-Enoh as VC!

Also, for those who will want to include Unical in the argument, they should be reminded that when Prof. Asuqou, who had elongated tenure of six years was Unical VC, Prof. Enobong, both from South was CRUTECH VC. Also, at the time Prof. Owan-Enoh was appointed CRUTECH VC, Prof. James Epoke was VC of Unical. Prof. Prof. Epoke is not just from central, he's also from Abi where the then Governor, Mr. Imoke hails from. 

The implication of this is that central at a time under Imoke produced the Governor, Unical and CRUTECH VCs. So there's precedence to what they're today condemning.

Besides, if nobody quarrelled this before why should people do now when you even consider that the north is the most marginalised Senatorial District in the state? Is it a crime for the north to benefit what central had benefited? Are those advancing this arguments lack sense of history or they're just being mischievous?.

On Ayade's alleged Obudu agenda

Another perspective that seems to be gaining so much attention on social media is the ignorant opinion that Governor Ben Ayade is playing Obudu card in the appointment of the new VC in CRUTECH. One thing I've noticed about Nigeria social media users is that majority of the people are allergic to facts as such they derive marginal utility in spreading falsehood.

In the past few days, I've been talking to power brokers in CRUTECH have gathered that it has been a consensus agreement between the governing council and the unions in CRUTECH that the north, being the only Senatorial District that's yet to produce VC since the establishment of the University should produce the next one!

Similarly, three months to the expiration of the tenure of the outgone VC, the governing council
of the institution wrote to the Govervnor for approval to commence the process of appointing a new VC but because of the politics of 2019, the Governor directed that the tenure of the outgone VC which expired in February should be extended. The council obliged and extended the tenure by two months.

The initial thinking of the council members was however that the Governor would give approval for the process to commence within the two months. For some unforseen circumstances, this never happened. Last week, there was attempt to extend the tenure of the outgone again but it failed. The council in its wisdom decided to appoint the Deputy VC, administration, Prof. Ingwu as Acting VC for two months again to have time to appoint a substantive VC. 

The appointment was however reversed when it was decided that anybody who assumed the VCship in acting capacity would not be qualified to contest to be appointed as a substantive one. This is because the Governor according to different sources want a level playing ground for everybody Interested.

During interviews for VCship, the incumbent is awarded about 30-40 marks while the remaining one is given based on other factors like experience, performance etc in the interview. This means that, if the VC has Interest in anybody candidate, even if his interest score as low as 20 in the overall interview which is conducted by the governing council, he can decide to donate his entire points to the person and make he or she the highest scorer in the interview.

Now this is the truth. Contrary to insinuations that the Governor is too keen making Prof. Ingwu VC because he's from Obudu, he has given two directives which suggest that he's more interested in giving everybody Interested a level playing field than foisting anybody on CRUTECH.

First, he directed that anybody in acting capacity shouldn't contest. He also directed that if he's interested in the position , his appointment Acting VC be reversed so that he won't become one of the judges in his own case. That's, the statutory points at the disposal of the VC which the Acting VC would have awarded himself if he was to contest have been played out! 

If actually the Govervnor was working to foist him as insinuated, he would have allowed the appointment as Acting VC which would have given him age above others to subsist. But the new twist means that, as Acting VC, it's either his appointment was reversed or he risked being disqualified because the Govervnor couldn't afford to allow him the luxury of remaining in power which by implication means that he would have had about 30 points sleeping somewhere waiting for him.

Findings have also shown that the real people rooting for Prof. Ingwu from Obudu are members of ASUU, CRUTECH branch.  They are said to be mounting pressure on the governing council and the Govervnor to appoint him as the new VC.

Thier argument is that CRUTECH has grown to a level were a staff of the University should be appointed as VC. Almost all the previous VCs came from other universities but now they are saying that one of their own should be made the VC!

Prof. Ingwu is favoured by the unions and top power brokers in the University owing to the fact that, of the three Professors in CRUTECH who are full staff and from the north, one is not qualified by number of years as Professor, the other has almost clocked retirement age, leaving him as the only Professor from the north and who is on a permanent employment with CRUTECH.

Now, if he applies when it's advertised, perform well in the interview and subsequently appointed, those shouting Obudu, Obudu today shouldn't hold the Governor responsible.

My Personal Opinion

Personally, I'm of the opinion that the VC position should go to the north however, not necessarily Obudu. 

My reason is that, one of the essence of the federal character which we the common people call zoning is to ensure that power should touch every part of Nigeria. The implication of the power reaching everywhere is that it's generally believed that when someone is in power, there should moderately be implementation of the cliche that "charity begins at home"!

Being that, Obudu, one of the local governments in north has benefited from the highest position zoned to the area, as our brothers keeper, a competent hands from another local government be appointed the next VC! They're Professors from the north who have been part of CRUTECH for over a decade although not as full staff.

Positions zoned to the north have been shared under the old Ogoja and Old Obudu brotherly agreement. If the Old Obudu is keeping the Governor, then our brothers from the old Ogoja should be considered to also benefit from this latest one zoned to the area

My position, however is an appeal to the Governor who is the only person that has the power to decide who's best to head CRUTECH.

Before concluding this article, it's worthy of note to state that contrary to remarks by some people that Govervnor Ayade doesn't really care about CRUTECH, the truth remains that there's no administration which has financed the institution like his administration since the inception of the University. 

In 2017, I personally wrote an article complaining about the welfare of the staff of the institution which is my alma mater but today, I'm very impressed with what the Governor has done, is doing and will continue to do, God willing!

Under the Ayade administration, staff welfare has been given serious attention. The University subvention has been increased from N169 million to over N200 million to enable the management pay salary. And for the first time in the history of the institution, staff of the University are enjoying their earned allowances which comes with their salaries every month!

He has donated vehicles to the management as well as students. There's improved security on campus now amongst other things.

So, it's untrue that the Governor doesn't care about CRUTECH. He wants the best for the institution which is why we should support him to ensure the right thing is done in appointing the right person as VC!

Inyali Peter is a graduate of CRUTECH and the National Publc Relations Officer of the institution'' alimna association!

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