Delta State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has expressed delight at the steady pace of development going on at the Federal College of Education (Technical) Asaba, Delta State.
This concern was expressed by the Chairman of the Union, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu when some members of the State Working Committee paid an unscheduled visit to the Provost, to ascertain the level of development and other sundry issues at the College.
Ikeogwu commended the Provost, Dr (Mrs) Josephine Anene-Okeakwa for the incremental progress the institution has recorded since Dr Ignatius Ezoem left as Provost, maintaining that she had really fitted into the big shoes left by her predecessor.
He wondered why anybody would want to smear the reputation of the College Provost, whom he said had from every available record distinguished herself in terms of inclusive administration, transparency and accountability.
The number one journalist in the State, however, admonished practising journalists to desist from being used as agents of distractions by fifth columnists within the institution to destabilize the good works of the Provost and tarnish the image of the College.
He nonetheless, commended some members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Delta State Council who painstakingly visited the institution to verify the authenticity of a petition wherein the Provost was alleged to be shielding a staff of the institution under investigation by a panel she set up.
The Chairman who expressed satisfaction with the defence and explanation of the Provost, when she denied ever shielding any staff, reminded journalists that the era of jungle journalism has gone.
Appreciating the NUJ for coming to get clarification from her and some management staff (Deputy Provost, Registrar, Bursar and another), the Provost expressed joy that at least there are professionals who do not engage in ‘media crucification’ before hearing the truth.
According to her on the issue at stake, “I feel bad that some persons for reasons best known to them could drag my name unnecessarily in the media. I am a bonafide daughter of Asaba, so I cannot disgrace my community where this College is situated. Again, I was appointed by the Federal Government because I scored the highest number of marks during the screening and I was found capable for this job as Provost.
“To the best of my ability, I have done this job honestly and sincerely. I am open to everybody in the College not just as a boss or colleague but as a mother. In all I do, I put God first, my conscience will not allow me to take side on any matter I know is true. I will always stand by the truth and ensure that justice is delivered.
“The issue is about a petition against a Chief Lecturer in the school, Mr Okonta bordering on entry cadre. I was not the one who employed him. I was made to understand that he was employed as an Analyst, but as at then, there were no computers in the school, so he was seconded to be lecturing in the school of business.
“The person we are talking about has been studying since he got engaged in the College to the effect that he obtained his Master’s Degree and then PhD. All his credentials are in his file, nothing has changed except that the petitioner was insisting that he had 3rd class in his degree at the point of entry. But they never mentioned that he has also gone to upgrade himself. He had always been in the business of lecturing and when the College left the era of typewriter and procured computers, he was made the Head of ICT of the institution. Through him as a Departmental Head, the College got various accreditations. Such a person is not a neophyte or incompetent in the system.
“However, when the petition was written challenging his entry cadre into the College. I called him as administratively demanded of my office and gave him a query to that effect, which he responded to. I then set up a panel where Mr Samuel Ilabor who is the Chairman of ACTU is a member. The petition was also forwarded to ACTU Chairman.
“After coming up with their report, which is from the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU), the report was supposed to go through a process, but that was not done as the Committee sent a petition directly to ICPC in Abuja. ACTU has no power to hire and fire, they are a Management Committee that deals with ICPC. It was after their report had gone to Abuja, not even Benin which is our zone that they had a rethink and submitted a copy to me, and I minuted it to the management from where it should go to the Council for decision-making.
“I can only deal with matters affecting staff from level 1-9, anything from there and above, it is the Council that handles that. They couldn’t wait for this process, they sent their petition to the media and started dragging my name and picture in their untrue story.
“I didn’t shield Mr Okonta, even though we know this whole thing is happening because of the cooperative election which didn’t go down well with the other faction. Mr Okonta was the Electoral Committee Chairman and for obvious reasons didn’t play ball as expected. And the people voted their choice because of the subsisting fraud case against the then incumbent group.
“They just want to smear my name in this matter. I feel disappointed that as a result of election matters, they are taking laws into their hands to destroy the name of the organisation where they earn their livelihood, to the effect that they were using fictitious names, one Dr Isitua Ifeanyi Obi to write petitions with phone numbers of a Hausa man and another ignorant staff who is in the Netherlands on sabbaticals.
“So, I thank you for hearing our side of the story from me and other management staff. I have nothing to hide, I run a collective administration. Things that I don’t know about are the things they are using against me, but the God that I serve has continued to vindicate me,” said Anene-Okeakwa.