Inyali Peter, Calabar

Dr. Joseph Ekpang
The Chairman of Directorate of Media Relations, University of Calabar, Calabar (UNICAL), Dr. Joseph Ekpang has said that the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Zana Akpagu will not be distracted by any amount of "sponsored frivolous and misleading blackmail on social media" against him.

Ekpang who was reacting to series of what he described as "wicked and malicious" social media posts against the VC by some Cross Riverians noted that he is waxing stronger and more committed to ending corruption in UNICAL.

He said that "although such people would have been best ignored but the reaction became neccesary to set the records staright and correct the impression of those who may have fallen to their antics in believing the campaign of calumny against the VC".

He added that what is going on now is a typical case of corruption fighting back as not so many people are in support of the strong stance of the VC anti-sorting and zero tolerance for indiscipline policies.

On issue of over employment, he said that, it was unfortunate that young people who ordinarily should commend what Zana is doing in the area of employment have allowed themselves to be used to blackmail him.

According to him, "There's nothing new to react because even from the tone of their write ups you will realise that they are some people in the system who have vowed to ensure that UNICAL don't grow; those are the people after the VC.

"People have made a lot of noise about employment. This Vice Chancellor has created new faculties, departments and programs; if the university doesn't employ, where do they expect us to get the manpower to run them? 

"Let me tell you something, the VC has appeared before the ICPC and Federal Character Commission on this issue of over employment and came out clean"

He continued that "There was the allegation by the former bursar that the university cannot meet up the N38.2 million emolument of new staff, but our financial analysis of dead, retired, dismissed staff and those on transfer of services saved the institution N35 million. This implies that, the university has not incurred any substantial additional cost from the employment people are talking about.

"The only offence Zana has committed against those sponsoring blackmail against him is that before now, the N35 million saved would have been shared on a dinner table. So what Zana is facing now is a case of corruption fighting back but I can assure you that he is not deterred".

Speaking on why staff have not received their full salaries over the past one year, he said that "This issue is not peculiar to UNICAL and those writing against him know the truth. Last year around February, the federal government slashed salaries of staff of tertiary institutions by 50% but protest by unions, led government to reviewing it to 90%. It has remained like that until recently when the government released intervention funds. Even then, only about four federal universities are able to pay complete salaries".

While explaining the decision of the management to introduce full payment or no exams policy, Ekpang said that "Students are even losing admission in some universities because of school fee but in this case we're saying that if you don't pay, you won't sit for exams. 

"In UNIUYO for instance, they have a portal for fee payment and once the time for fee payment elapses the portal will be shutdown meaning that those who don't pay would have to forfeit their admission. So this thing is not a UNICAL affair but we're just trying to implement what other universities have started but in a more friendly way.

"Because of the harsh economic situation the country is going through, the allocation from the federal government has dropped astronomically and our IGR is not too encouraging either. So if students don't pay school fee how do we expect government to increase subvention? How can the university function? There's nowhere in the word that school fee is free.

"So instead of sponsoring lies and misleading information about the university, all relevant stakeholders must advocate for increased funding for the university and other tertiary institutions and in fact the education ector generally in Nigeria".

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