…As host community assures to reconcile parties
By Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
BOTH teaching and non-teaching Staff of Uyo City Polytechnic, in Nduetong Oku community in Uyo local government area, Akwa Ibom State have shut down the school over the non-payment of 21 months salary arrears.
The main gate of the institution on Monday morning was locked while palm fronds were placed in front of the gate which signifies a traditional injunction.
Also placed on the school gate were placards with various inscriptions such as “We the staff of the Polytechnic we need our 21 months salary, “Etukudoh’s family honour agreement, pay our 21 months salary. “No payment no work; “We need smooth workforce, we have been fools for too long”, “Accept the agreement, we are crying in silence”.
According to a notice dated March 16, 2020, and pasted on the school gate, the Rector of the Polytechnic, Mrs Idem Iboro, directed staff and students of the institution to proceed on a two weeks break starting from the same date, pending when the issues will be resolved.
The notice reads, “This is to inform all staff (apart from those on essential duties) and students to proceed on a two weeks break starting from today, Monday 16/3/2020.
“We regret any inconvenience this may cause. We appeal to everyone to remain calm as the pending issues will be resolved amicably. Activities at Uyo City Polytechnic will resume fully on 30th March 2020,”
And when the Rector, was contacted, she simply said, “I came this morning and I saw the barricade, so I decided to put up the notice. I am still investigating the matter”.
Reacting, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication who told newsmen in confidence that the non-payment of 21 months salary to staff of the institution was as a result of the unresolved issues over the change of management of the institution.
“We are aggrieved because we have been owed for 21 months, and the issue has escalated to the point that we don’t even know who we are answerable to. The old management handed over to the new management on September 2, 2019.
“That was smoothly done, but along the line, the problem regarding the review of the agreement of the management of the school started this Monday morning as I was about to go to the office to sign the time book one of the staff told me that if I go inside the premises, they would beat me up.
Reacting, Marshal Effiong Vice Chairman of Nduetong Oku youth forum said, “Uyo City Polytechnic is mismanaged by the proprietors. They owe the staff 21 months salary and God sent Mr. Emmanuel Ekot to come and take over the school under an agreement. The man took over in September 2019 and started changing the face of the Polytechnic.
“He spent N46 million to renovate the school and after paying two months salary, the proprietors now came to say that the agreement was not properly signed, and called for a review of the agreement. Because of that Mr Ekot stopped his work in the school including taking care of staff welfare.
“The Chairman of the Village council , Mr. Enefiok Samuel informed the Clan Head of Oku, Etebom Enefiok Okpon of the incident and the Clan Head ordered the Chairman to put an injunction for peace to reign until the parties involved are called to say what actually happened”.
Contacted, Mr Enefiok Samuel, Chairman, Village Council, said the Management of the Polytechnic lamented how so many of the students who graduated from the school but have not been given clearance for the NYSC programme or have continued to be a nuisance in the community.
He assured of the community leader’s willingness to resolve the matter, stressing, “The community has agreed that if the school cannot honour the agreement, let them take the school away,”
When one of the proprietors, elder Enoobong Etukudo, was contacted, he declined to comment on the matter, saying he had to first meet with the Clan Head on the issue.