By Egufe Yafugborhi
PORT HARCOURT – NEWLY appointed Acting Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Rivers State, Prof Stephen Okodudu says he is depressed over the enormity of inherited challenges amidst presidential mandate to restore peace to the varsity.
Okodudu, unveiling his roadmap to achieve the mandate handed to him by President Mohammadu Buhari, said he felt depressed on assumption of duty with 59 inherited litigations within outside Rivers and commonplace sense of insecurity in UNIPORT in the estimation of critical stakeholders.
The VC said from consultation with the Ministers of Education, the Executive Secretary National Universities Commission (NUC), internal stakeholders and host Aluu community, he has deduced that his key mandate is to “Restore Peace to UNIPORT”
He said, “To tell ourselves the truth, I have never seen UNIPORT in such a difficult time as we are in now. From interactions with the education ministry, NUC and even internal stakeholders, they have a very poor impression about us and our University. I am simply depressed about this realization.
“While I am not concerned about who was right or wrong, I know of a fact that this is not what/who we are as a University. From Handover note of immediate past VC, as at 12th June 2020, UNIPORT has 59 different cases in various Courts within and outside Rivers”.
“While there might be genuine reasons to continue these cases in Courts, my consultations so far reveal that there is a generally felt need that we can resolve most, if not all the legal issues, through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
“Conflict is ubiquitous in human society, but the basis for the life-threatening contestations in UNIPORT, to the extent that after over four decades of existence, we could not even ensure a seamless transition from one substantive administration to another is not only unfortunate but has dealt cruel blow to the reputation of UNIPORT.”
He said, “I shall rely on the Committee system to guide decisions and policies towards resolving all matters, including those with legal implications. I shall immediately constitute the Committees on Subsisting and that on Resolving Staff and Students’ grievances in the University.
“The primary purpose is to steer the University in the direction where scarce financial and other resources are not dissipated on avoidable encumbrances. When the membership is constituted, the Committees shall be expected to submit Reports in one month.”
Okodudu pledged to carry everyone along, appealing for cooperation of all UNIPORT stakeholders, urging constructive criticisms in improving ranking of the varsity while declaring “zero-tolerance against deliberate negative tendencies to threaten peace and the stability of the University.”