Labour unions at the Federal College of Agriculture, Ishiagu, Ebonyi State on Monday staged a peaceful protest at the institution’s premises.
A News Agency of Nigeria correspondent who was the scene of the protest reports that the unions under the aegis of the Joint Action Union occupied the entrance gates to prevent movement in and out of the university.
The protesters, numbering more than 500, were joined by some interest groups from the host community.
The non-violent protest saw the protesters displaying placards with inscriptions such as: “Stooges have hijacked the provost’s duties”, “Enough of corruption in FECAI” and “Provost and his cohorts must go.”
Bamidele Adekunle, Chairman of the institution’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, said the administration of Dr. Wilfred Nwangwu, the Provost, had been hijacked by three “cronies”.
Adekunle alleged that the impostors took management decisions and ran the institution.
He added: “These people have been embezzling huge funds of the institution.
“The N13 million released by the Federal Government for sustainable agricultural programme to cushion the effects of COVID-19 lockdown cannot be accounted for.
“The Provost has failed to handle the situation and we have duly petitioned the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria over this.
“The three staff who run the institution are in the junior cadre and see to the posting and re-posting of staff, while allotting official vehicles to themselves.”
Chukwudi Ezebuiro, Chairman of the institution’s Senior Staff Association, said the actions of the provost and his “cohorts” were eroding the legacies of the past heads of the institution
“During Prof. Justina Mgbada’s tenure, relevant rules and regulations were strictly adhered to, but since Nwangwu took over in January, inefficiency, corruption among others have become prevalent.
“In addition to petitioning, we wrote to the relevant supervisory agencies.
“We had also petitioned the Police, Department of State Services and are in the process of petitioning the anti-graft agencies.”
Ahamefula Nkemdirim, Chairman of the institution’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutes, said the institution’s gates would remain shut even if schools were re-opened after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Nkemdirim said: “We will lock the gates and offices until a substantive provost is appointed for the institution or a capable acting provost is appointed.
“The most intriguing action taken by these individuals is the re-posting of the Director of FECAI ventures, the institution’s main source of internally generated revenue, for refusing to connive with them to destroy the institution.”
When NAN contacted the institution’s Provost, Nwangwu, on telephone, he initially declined to speak.
He had said he was under the instruction of the Executive Secretary of ARCN not to speak to the media.
He later told NAN that the allegation of over-bearing influence on him by some staff members of the institution was “partially true”.
He said the trio always ignored his directives.
He said: “I directed the institution’s registrar to re-post them but he instead reposted those that were actually doing the work.
“I want the three staff members to be re-posted out so than I can have peace.”