When the Holy Bible declares that the heart of man is desperately wicked, who would have imagined that such doctrinal revelation could be redefined and taken to a new low by those who physically appear in the cloak of academics but in reality are the very definitions of sadists, traducers, shadow chasers, rabble rousers, chatterboxes, negative propagandists, spin masters and Pull-Him-Down Syndrome?
Well, if you are astonished, astounded and at a loss trying to imagine where such people could possibly exist, the truth is that a small enclave of such elements have found a safe haven in Kogi State University.
They are the academic version of the axis of evil whose stock in trade and whose penchant for seeing nothing good in those with intimidating credentials has become an incurable second nature. It is therefore not surprising that as seasoned academics, student unions, socio-cultural organisations, political organisations, reputable diplomats, accomplished personalities at both individual and corporate levels and all men of goodwill spread across the country are busy celebrating the well-deserved nomination of Prof. Stephen Ikani Ocheni as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, these elements turned up with their evil machinations by cooking and circulating frivolous stories on hearing the laudable announcement by the Federal Government.
Their intention is to throw mud at the impeccable credentials of Prof. Ocheni and create doubts in the minds of well-meaning people. Their spurious, sweeping and unprovable allegations have made their way into the staple of some hurriedly-created mushroom online “news” portals.
And knowing their way, they should be somewhere right now plotting to spread their bag of imaginations to other media organisations in and around the country.
Now, the question is “knowing who they are as elements without iota of credibility, do they really need response?” The answer is YES and NO. For the teeming populace who are already in touch with the commanding height and unblemished records of Prof. Ocheni as an accomplished public servant and distinguished academic, the answer is NO. But for Nigerians spread across the country who are not abreast of the true height of the nominee and might be misguided into accepting even an iota of such web of lies and deceits, the answer is YES.
It is for the sake of such good Nigerians who are the targets of these agents of darkness, and particularly the distinguished members of Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before whom the nominee will appear for confirmation hearing, that the truth about the salient issues raised in respect of his academic status and professorial appointment are here put forward for assimilation and documentation. For the purpose of clarity and coherence, the issues raised and characters of those behind them are addressed under three broad headings thus:
THAT PROFESSOR OCHENI DOES NOT HOLD A PHD DEGREE
This is the most fundamental of the claims put up by the axis of evil; and it is a fallacy from the pit of hell. Here are the facts in this regard.
That Professor Ocheni (then Dr. Ocheni) duly obtained his PhD certificate from the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 2004 and he attached a copy of same to his resume in his application for appointment as Professor in Kogi State University. This much is corroborated in The News report thus: Contrary to the fears of ASUU, Ocheni displays a PhD certificate in Pub Admin/ Local Government (Financial Management) from UNN.
That the credentials, including the PhD certificate were considered satisfactory by a prima facie panel of interviewees (the membership of which included 4 Professors) that orally examined him before making recommendations for the appointment.
That these small enclaves operating under the cover of ASUU led by one Dr. S. O Ukwuteno who was pursuing a personal agenda and taking undue advantage of his position then as Chairman ASUU, KSU Branch, wrote a letter to the University authority calling for the reversal of the appointment on the ground that the appointee had no PhD as claimed.
That the University on receipt of the ASUU correspondence sent a verification and confirmation request dated 4th February, 2014, to the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and that UNN replied via a letter dated 12th February, 2014 signed by the then Secretary to the School of Post Graduate Studies Dr (Mrs) M. E. Odukwe and addressed to the KSU Registrar confirming that Dr. Stephen Ocheni actually obtained a PhD of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka with effect from March, 2004.
That those who held the ASUU-KSU hostage within the period were still not satisfied and in an action akin to having parallel authority in the University, manipulated the Congress into agreeing to set up an investigation panel to verify the PhD status of Professor S.I. Ocheni.
That the panel, instead of contacting the University of Nigeria, Nsukka which Prof. Ocheni claimed awarded him the PhD, claimed to have relied on the University’s 34th Convocation Ceremony Order of Proceedings, a mere programme of events at any convocation ceremony, and concluded that Prof. Ocheni obtained a Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) which they claimed was what they found in the Proceedings without any clarification from the issuing authority (UNN). This was a clear indication that the committee was constituted to blackmail and act the script designed by the axis of evil.
That since the Prof. Omada led Committee failed to do proper investigation before turning in the misleading report, the Congress resolved that the matter be laid to rest to avoid exposing the Union to the risk of litigation; and it was a unanimous resolution at that Congress.
That surprisingly, members of Congress were shocked to see a resolution written differently and manipulated on the appointment of Dr. S. I. Ocheni as a substantive Professor, Exco was directed to carry out a thorough investigation to un-earth his actual qualifications – this manipulation and misrepresentation of resolution sparked a very sharp division among ASUU members leading some concerned members to write a letter to the Chairman dated 2nd February, 2014 signed by 14 members calling on him to properly write and re – circulate the right resolution to avoid losing trust of members and also demanded minutes of the congress to clear the misconception, but both were never made available.
That when it was obvious that reliance on Order of Proceedings as means of verification as contained in the shoddy Committee report was an untenable conclusion, the then Chairman (Dr. Ukwuteno) wrote to UNN under the caption Request For Information On The Status Of The Degree Awarded To Stephen Ikani Ocheni dated 30th May, 2014; five months after Kogi State University had confirmed same.
That the Secretary of the School of Post Graduate Studies of UNN acted on Dr. Ukwutenos letter on the 1st July, 2014 with a comment to the UNN Registrar which reads, “Please inform the writer that the candidate was duly awarded PhD degree of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka with effect from March, 2004”; it means the PhD status was affirmed and a reply sent to Dr. Ukwuteno which he invariably never disclosed to ASUU-KSU Congress because he was acting in bad faith.
That due to his leadership ineptitude and series of attempts to manipulate members of the Congress, Dr. Ukwuteno was overwhelmingly voted out as Chairman in an election conducted on 15th October, 2014 won by the Secretary that served under him, Dr Abdullahi M. Yusuf.
That on assumption of office, the new Chairman, Dr. Y. M. Abdullahi wrote to the University of Nigeria Nsukka (precisely on 22nd January, 2015 and addressed to the UNN Registrar under the caption Request For Information On The Status Of The Degree Awarded To Stephen Ikani Ocheni) seeking confirmation of the PhD status of Prof. Ocheni, Dr. Abdullahi personally delivered the correspondence in company of the then Branch Vice-Chairman (now Acting Chairman), Dr. Gbenga Aina and Branch Secretary, Dr. Mathew Abula.
That the University of Nigeria Nsukka affirmed via a reply dated 28th January, 2015 and signed by Deputy Registrar/Secretary School of Postgraduate Studies, T. Ugwueze that Ocheni obtained a PhD from the University with effect from March 2004. The letter also confirmed earlier correspondence on same to the Registrar of Kogi State University. Again, there is corroboration in The News report, which the “axis of evil” used to spread their falsehood.
From the foregoing, it is clear that three correspondences from the University of Nigeria Nsukka affirming the PhD status of Prof. Ocheni were received in Kogi State University. The first was addressed to the Registrar of the institution based on request, the second was addressed to Dr. Ukwuteno (then branch Chairman of ASUU) still on request, and the third was addressed to Dr. Abdullahi (who succeeded Dr. Ukwuteno as Chairman) and still on request. With all these quantum of affirmations, the question that should be on the lips of well-meaning people is what do these dark elements really want?” While there may be some other motives best known to them, what is very clear here however is that they are out on a mission to destroy an innocent person and constitute themselves as alternative authority to Governing Council of Kogi State University, Anyigba, their own employer.
THAT OCHENIS APPOINTMENT AS PROFESSOR WAS INAPPROPRIATE ON GROUND OF DEGREES OBTAINED, TEACHING EXPERIENCE AND ARTICLES PUBLISHED
This claim is laughable as it could only originate from people notorious for raising false alarms. Nevertheless, the facts have to be advanced for the sake of posterity. The issue of the degrees obtained by Prof. S.I. Ocheni has been clearly addressed especially as it relates to his PhD status. But since they are making reference to Degrees, it is clear that they are indirectly raising issues in respect of Bachelor and Masters Degrees.
At this point, it is important to stress that Prof. Ocheni has never claimed he holds a Bachelor degree of any University. He holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) obtained from Federal Polytechnic, Idah; a Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) and Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Enugu State University of Science and Technology. It is also inferred from his Curriculum Vitae that in addition to his MBA, the UNN offered him an M.Sc/PhD admission. This is however, in addition to his academic MBA (MBA with thesis) since he does not hold an executive MBA as claimed by the agents of darkness.
Meanwhile, it has already been established that Prof.Ocheni successfully completed the M.Sc/PhD programme leading to the award of PhD Financial Management in 2004. So what kind of degrees are these agents of darkness looking for? Perhaps, they are looking for the types that exist in their wildest imaginations and which suit their malicious aims.
On the other issues raised in respect of the appropriateness of the appointment, it is tough to know what kind of parameter defines appropriate in the thinking of the Axis of Evil. But if appropriate goes with its conventional meaning in respect of appointments into Nigerian universities, then members of the public are invited to consider the procedures followed and the personalities involved in the appointment of Prof. Ocheni and draw conclusion themselves.
Here we go:
That on receipt of the application of then Dr. S. I. Ocheni for appointment as Professor, the then Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Hassan S. Isah, forwarded the application to the then Dean of the Faculty for his comment.
That based on the positive recommendation from the Dean and cogent accreditation needs in the Department of Accounting, the Vice-Chancellor constituted a prima facie panel headed by then Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), himself a Professor and three other Professors to interview then Dr. Ocheni and one Dr. Iwarere, by taking into cognizance their credentials and determine their suitability or otherwise for the appointments as Professor and Reader respectively.
That the panel after scrutinising Dr. Ocheni’s credentials and examining him orally recommended that he should be appointed as Professor subject to external assessment of his publications.
That the then Vice-Chancellor on the ground of the Committees recommendation, and following the existing rules, appointed Dr. Ocheni as Senior Lecturer pending the external assessment of his publications.
That following the rules guiding professorial appointment, the then Dr. Ochenis publications were sent to three different assessors who were Professors of vast experiences and teaching in three different Universities (Federal, State and Private) in the country for assessment.
That all the three assessors carried out their duties and affirmed the publications as worthy of professorial appointment.
That the then Vice-Chancellor, following the rules forwarded the assessment reports to the Appointment and Promotion Committee for consideration.
That the Appointment and Promotion Committee after a careful study of the assessment reports recommended to Council for confirmation of Dr. Ocheni as Professor of Public Sector Accounting of Kogi State University, Anyigba.
That Council, at its Regular Meetings in May 2014 and following the recommendation of the Appointment and Promotion Committee, confirmed the appointment of Stephen Ikani Ocheni as Professor of Public Sector Accounting of the University.
That the personalities involved in the appointment of Professor Ocheni right from the oral interview stage through the assessment of publications to the final stage of Council confirmation included many Professors (drawn from other universities across the country), seasoned universities administrators, legal luminaries, technocrats from relevant ministries and representatives of the National Universities Commission (NUC); all with clouts, experience, integrity and discipline required to detect procedural weaknesses and deficiency in credentials and advise appropriately.
That the same dark elements, even with the full knowledge of the caliber of personalities and thoroughness of stages involved in the appointment had still written series of petitions to the same Council to revert itself even when they had no evidence other than their spurious claims, and that Council had taken pains to reply them on each occasion on the needlessness of their ill-conceived mission.
That dissatisfied, they had approached the then Secretary to the Kogi State Government (himself a Professor and former Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria), Professor Olugbemiro Jegede to help them actualize their evil intention; but the erudite scholar told them in no uncertain terms that the appointment was in order.
That the “axis of evil” would not have any of such wise counsel as they proceeded to the then State House of Assembly Committee on Education where they still hit brick wall for lack of substance.
That the same axis of evil even without the authorization of the branch Congress took their mission to the national body of the ASUU which at a point was misled into directing the branch Congress to ensure that the appointment was reversed; but Congress with full knowledge of information at her disposal on the issue only resolved to carry out a holistic verification and review of credentials and appointments of all her members at a meeting held on 5th May, 2015. The resolution of the said Congress which was attended by one hundred and twenty seven (127) members including all the past Branch Chairmen and the then ASUU Zonal Coordinator, Nsukka Zone, Dr. Josiah Atabor reads thus:
Congress resolved that there should be a comprehensive investigation of staff appointments, qualifications, publications and promotions, since inception with a view to ascertaining the relevance of qualifications, appropriateness of placement and genuiness of publications for fairness and sanity.
But this was scuttled by the axis of evil spearheaded by one of their ring leaders who was part of the decision (his identity will come shortly) because he, like others have skeletons in his cupboard.
That on the issue of authorship of journal articles, there is no rule that delimits the number of publications that should be co-authored and the number that should be based on single authorship; neither does any rule spell out the ceiling to the number of times to co-publish with particular set of authors – in fact, universities advocate co-authorship as a way of encouraging mentorship, diversity of inputs and thoroughness of findings.
That in terms of quality or genuineness of the publications claimed by Prof. Ocheni, more than eighty percent of about 44 articles he published in international journals so far are available online for confirmation; just google Stephen Ocheni articles and you would have all you need to confirm.
That the same Prof. Ocheni, in spite of the persecution by the axis of evil was overwhelmingly elected Dean of Faculty of Management Sciences and re-elected on the expiration of his first term of two years by members of ASUU in his Faculty, a term he has been serving before his announcement as ministerial nominee.
Incidentally, the same man who ASUU found worthy and appointed as chairman of the ASUU KSU 2014 Electoral Committee was also the Chairman of the Electoral Committee that brought on board Prof. Ocheni as Dean. The germane question here therefore is on which ASUU platform is the axis of evil fighting the man of honour and integrity; is it the ASUU whose members conducted election and overwhelmingly elected Prof. Ocheni as their Dean twice or the ASUU of the conception of the axis of evil?.
In view of the foregoing, it should be clear to all persons of good faith that these dark elements have no other mission than a spirited attempt to soil the integrity and impeccable public records of Prof. Stephen Ikani Ocheni and as well disparaging the integrity of the Governing Council with the overall intent of ridiculing the national and international standing of Kogi State University. It is therefore imperative for Nigerians to know who they are and what they are up to in their records as individuals or group for guidance.
It is important to note that those who have attempted to raise dusts about Prof. Ocheni’s credentials are one Dr. S.O. Ademiluka of the Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities and one Dr. S.O. Ukwuteno of the Faculty of Agriculture, neither of who is a Professor; and yet they claim to know more than the Professors who did their jobs with due regard to due process and on the premise of their long standing and impeccable experiences.
That when the Congress of ASUU resolved to take a holistic approach in verifying the academic documents of all her members as against selective approach being pursued, Dr Ademiluka, stood against it and ensured the resolution never saw the light of the day by hiding under a flimsy and untenable reason; this is because he knew that the measure will expose their hollow and dubious academic records.
That the same Dr. Ademiluka who was once ‘dismissed’ as a lecturer from the University of Ilorin was compassionately rehabilitated by Kogi State University pending the outcome of litigations in respect of his dismissal and those of others which was terminated at the Supreme Court. Please note that Dr. Ademiluka never questioned his improper appointment by then Governing Council of Kogi State University, which employed him then even as a dismissed staff against extant rules as he is challenging the decision of the same Governing Council and Senate on matters within their exclusive jurisdictions.
That Dr. Ukwuteno and Dr. Ademiluka cannot lay claim to research published in international or Impact Factor Journals for reference, cannot boast of tangible conferences and seminars attended and cannot boast of being involved in painstaking research and stimulating critical discourse within Nigeria and elsewhere for the past seven (7) years; yet they are fighting a man who is an embodiment of international research and accomplishments.
That a click of Google button will clearly expose Drs. Ademiluka and Ukwuteno as academically unproductive, as you can hardly find results of their research exploits published in any reputable outlets (local or international) for contributions to knowledge and development in the last seven (7) years. The only notable exceptions credited to their names are numerous Court cases here and there. Please Google and see!
It is sad and unfortunate that the commanding records and towering height of Professor Stephen Ikani Ocheni which is a reference point for the young and the old who are in search of exemplary con