Nnaya Eziyi, Umuahia
The governing council of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), has absolved the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Francis Otunta of blame in the recent disengagement of over 400 of its staff.
Pro-chancellor and the chairman of the council, Rt Hon Muhammadu Zayyana stated this in an address he delivered at the 8th convocation and silver jubilee anniversary ceremony of the University, near Umuahia, the Abia state capital
He said the laid-off staff were over bloated workforce, which the present management of the University inherited from the former administration, saying they had became a heavy financial strain on its lean resources.
According to the one time commissioner and Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly, the affected staff, the media, and other stakeholders in the system had given different interpretations to the painful decision.
He said: “Painful as the decision could have been, the council believed that it would not only improve staff productivity, but would as well serve as a basis for the present and future management to apply due diligence in recruiting new workforce.”
Zayyana noted that the council believed that all well-meaning individuals and groups with stakes in the system would appreciate that it took the decision in the best interest of the University as no rational employer could overstaff itself.
The Sarkin Gobir Gwadabawa, however maintained that the council recognised the fact that the University was growing rapidly and therefore had need for adequate manpower to run its existing expanding programmes.
“To this end, management will work in tandem with the council to examine how to re-engage some of the affected staff in due course, while due diligence must be accorded to areas of need and relevance of credentials,” he noted.
In his address on the occasion, the vice chancellor said the University under his leadership would deliver on its mandate, adding that the management was working hard with the council to increase its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base.
“Today, the University is not only celebrating its 8th convocation ceremony, but also the Silver Jubilee. Silver denotes the twenty fifth in a series , especially annual series. That means, this is the twenty-fifth year of the University’s existence,” he added.
Other high points of the occasion was award of a posthumous Doctorate Degree of Science on the former Premier of defunct Eastern Region, who the University is named after, the late Dr. Michael Okpara and a Doctor of Business Administration award on Prof. Joe Irukwu.