July 12, 2017

Why we suspended 400 workers — MOUAU

By Anayo Okoli

UMUAHIA — THE leadership of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, MOUAU, said the over 400 workers suspended last week were temporary workers whose contract has elapsed.

Besides, the leadership of the university also alleged that some of the suspended workers were abinitio not qualified to be engaged.

It also alleged that the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Hillary Edoga, illegally engaged the temporary workers without council’s approval though there was already a vice chancellor designate that would replace him.

Some of the employments, the university said, were rumoured to have been offered for exchange for other selfish things.

Briefing journalists, Monday, the university’s spokesperson, Mrs. Adanma Odefa, made efforts to defend the action of the Prof. Francis Otunta-led management in suspending the workers, and accused the former vice chancellor of knowingly employing the workers when he knew there were no funds to pay them in order to create problems for his successor.

According to Odefa, the former vice chancellor employed the over 400 workers “between November 2015 and February 2016 even when he knew there was already a vice chancellor designate and no funds to pay such number of staff.”

She explained that employees in federal university are hired on temporary basis and have to undergo “regularization,” saying failure to be regularized within a period of one year “leads to the elapsing of the contract as they are employed as contract staff.

“If the university had the need for that number of staff (400), which constitutes over 12 per cent of the entire staff strength, it should have advertised for such positions and there should have been council’s approval.”

“With the former Vice Chancellor employing such staff what the university ended up with was bloated staff strength; an example is that ICT laboratory which can be manned by four people, ended up with staff of over 25 which led to the institute having a lot of unqualified and redundant staff”.

Odefa said that their appointment actually elapsed in early June but the university bent backward to retain them and allow them to get June pay and for the new Council to meet and take decision on their matter.

“However based on a humanitarian ground, we decided to bear the burden of carrying them despite the heavy load they had become pending when the council comes up with its decision on the matter”.