The Federal College of Agriculture Ishiagu (FECAI) entrance was on Monday locked up by unions in the institution in a peaceful protest over allegations of embezzlement leveled against three staff of the institution.
The unions under the auspice of the Joint Union Action (JAC) had protesters numbering over 500 and accompanied by some interest groups of the host community. Together they locked the institution’s entrance gates, administrative office, and the provost lodge.
They displayed placards with inscriptions: “stooges have hijacked the provost’s duties”, “enough of corruption in FECAI”, “the provost and his cohorts must go”.
Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) FECAI branch Mr Bamidele Adekunle, alleged that the leadership of the Provost, Dr Wilfred Nwangwu has been hijacked by three ‘cohorts.
“They take management decisions, run the institution’s affairs, embezzling funds notably the N13million released by the Federal Government for sustainable agricultural programme to cushion the effects of COVID-19 lockdown,” he said.
He further stated that the situation had gone out of the provost’s hands as the unions have petitioned the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria over the activities of the staff who are on the junior cadre.
Meanwhile, the Senior Staff Association Chairman in the institution, Mr Chukwudi Ezebuiro, said such actions demean the legacies of the past leadership of the institution especially those of Nwangwu’s predecessor, Prof. Justina Mgbada.
“Relevant rules and regulations were strictly obeyed during Mgbada’s tenure in Nwangwu’s reign, inefficiency, corruption among others are the order of the day,” he said.
He noted that the unions have petitioned all relevant regulatory agencies including the police, and Department of State Security (DSS) while efforts are being made to also petitioned anti-graft agencies.
The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutes in the school, Mr Ahamefula Nkemdirim, said that until a substantive provost or capable acting provost is appointed, the institution’s gates will remain shut even if schools are re-opened after the COVID-19.
Reacting, the institution’s Provost, Dr Wilfred Nwangwu, in a telephone interview said that he will not comment because of the directives from the Executive Secretary of ARCN not to speak to the press.
However, the provost who later changed his mind, said the allegation of the staff overbearing attitude was ‘partially true’ as they always ignored his directives.
“They always did what they like as I directed the institution’s registrar to re-post them but he instead re-posted those who are actually working”.
He suggested that the three staff be re-posted as the solution for peace to reign.