Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Delta State, Dr Josephine Anene-Okeakwa, has reiterated her resolve to rid the College of untoward vices and reposition it to pursue the core mandate establishing the institution and make it a citadel of teaching and learning towards attaining academic excellence.
Dr Anene-Okeakwa said this while speaking with newsmen who visited her office to clarify issues surrounding a recent publication by an online medium, accusing her of dissolving the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit of the College (ACTU) (an ICPC-watchdog in tertiary institutions) and suspending its chairman for exposing some sharp practices involving a senior lecturer in the College, dismissed the allegations as false and unfounded.
According to the Provost, “This is a lie from the pit of hell, I have never interfered in anything concerning any Panel of Enquiry’s assignments. There are limits to what a Provost can do in a College setting; the Council has much more powers to take some punitive measures against senior staff who go overboard.
“As Provost, I have no power to disband ACTU, and I know very well the limit of my powers. It may interest you to know that I am a product of the system. I have been in Management for years as Head of Department, Dean of School, Deputy Provost, Governing Council Member, and now Provost. So I have garnered enough experience to know how the system operates, the powers and limitations of the Provost.
“I couldn’t have dissolved ACTU and as a matter of fact, I did not. The truth is that Governing Council of the College in a meeting held recently looked into the petitions and reports arising from and against ACTU. Council in its wisdom took steps to refocus the body on its core mandate. You may wish to interact with ACTU Chairman and members. Please go and hear from them directly.”
In an attempt to get reactions from staff with regards to the administration of the College, some of them attested to the fact that Dr Anene-Okeakwa has been exceptional in leadership and administration.
Those who gave their opinions on conditions of anonymity affirmed that certain academic members of the College are not happy with her excellent record of progress in academic and infrastructural developments, and so bent on tarnishing her image to render her achievements worthless.
They even gave an instance when she had to discipline her own son who is a staff of the College over a trivial matter, confirming the popular assertion that she is a thorough disciplinarian.
Several attempts were made to speak to ACTU Chairman, Mr Samuel Ilabor for his own side of the story but proved abortive as he didn’t pick calls put across to him through his mobile phone.
However, a member of ACTU who pleaded anonymity said, “Things have not been going well in ACTU for some time now. As I speak with you many of us have resigned as ACTU members because the Chairman practically turned ACTU into a weapon of blackmail and Vendetta.
“Most times he cajoles us into helping to settle his personal scores with staff of the College, instigating malicious petitions and stage-managed investigations. On moral grounds, Mr Ilabor is not fit to serve as ACTU Chairman because he was Vice Chairman in our Staff Multipurpose Cooperative Society for eight years. His regime is being investigated by EFCC/ICPC for fraudulent embezzlement, diversion/misappropriation of over #150million.
“Mr Ilabor was Chairman of Land Committee and we were told in Congress that the bulk of fraud was perpetrated in Land transactions, apart of Loan of over #5million he fraudulently obtained using his wife as proxy! You can see where ACTU problem started. The Chairman was using us to fight his battles! When we realized this we all resigned on moral grounds.
“The last stroke that broke Carmel’s back was his latest campaign of calumny and vendetta against Dr O. E. Okonta a highly reputable Chief Lecturer and Governing Council Member. Mr Ilabor dragged ACTU into his personal squabbles with Dr Okonta over School of Science Deanship politics and College Staff Cooperative politics. All Ilabor’s allegations and petitions against Dr Okonta using fictitious names turned out to be fabricated, malicious, all tainted in bad blood. How can we continue in a noble body like ACTU with a character like Mr Ilabor as Chairman, a serial blackmailer?”
On whether the Provost dissolved ACTU as published online, another ACTU member who also didn’t want her name on print for fear of harassment and intimidation said it was mere propaganda they were all there at the Meeting of ACTU with Governing Council.
According to her, “We were invited following reports and petitions emanating from and against ACTU. ACTU Chairman had instigated an amorphous petition against Dr Okonta and purportedly carried out a Kangaroo investigation submitted to Governing Council. At the Meeting, the Provost did not even comment on the matter.
“So I wonder where the allegation that Provost dissolved ACTU emanated from. The ACTU members themselves promptly disowned Ilabor’s report against Dr Okonta having discovered it was all malicious, baseless, vindictive. We pleaded with Council to pardon us because we were misled and manipulated as a weapon of vendetta against Dr Okonta.
“There and then ACTU members realized they had derailed substantially; instead of pursuing its core mandate as anti-graft agency and watchdog against corruption, they veered into partisanship. It was at this point that the Provost lent her voice pleading with Council to pardon the flagrant violation of extant College/Public service rules and code of conduct caused by Mr Ilabor.”