By Oginyi Ruth
The Ebonyi Government has stated that the public hearing of the committee set up by Governor David Umahi over the retrenchment of several Ebonyi State University (EBSU) staff, has no political undertones.
The staff were recently retrenched by the university’s management over cases of age and certificates falsification and duplication among other reasons.
The public concerns which followed the decision made the Ebonyi State governor to set up a committee over the issue with the main opposition party in the state declaring that it would re-instate the staff if it wins the elections.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Onwe, stated this during the inaugural public hearing of the committee, urging the public to disregard such insinuations.
Onwe noted that the committee was set up about a fortnight ago and was even compelled to seek for an extension of time, in order to achieve the required results.
“The opposition can bring heavens to any section of Ebonyi but it will definitely lose the general elections in the state.
“The governor’s re-election is guaranteed and we don’t need gimmicks to achieve the victory,” he said.
The commissioner noted that though he will not preempt the proceedings of the committee, it would look objectively at all presentations submitted by the affected staff at the hearing.
“We saw the thoroughness at which the university did what it did but have also seen the human impact, objective, impartial and compassionate report submitted to the state governor.
“The governor saw the necessity to set up this committee so that no one would feel poorly treated because that is not his style,” he said.
He noted that the state Executive Council (EXCO) pays serious attention to the university, its staff and welfare, as the governor invited the university’s top management staff to explain the basis for the staff’s disengagement.
“In the course of the interaction, it became obvious the figure of 300 disengaged staff being brandied about in the print and social media, was exaggerated.
“The EXCO understands that the university constituted an audit committee to conduct a comprehensive staff audit which produced a report approved by its governing council on Sept.19, 2018.
“The EXCO also understood that the audit committee was properly constituted and comprised of deans, directors and principal officers who interviewed all the staff that were later disengaged,” he said.
Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, the university’s Vice Chancellor, noted that the university acted on the submission of its staff audit committee in disengaging the affected staff.
“The appointment letters of staff state that they can be disengaged if found guilty of any misconduct and such is the contract between employees and employers,” he said.
Chairman of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) of the university, Mr. Emmanuel Obo noted that the union called-off its industrial action on the governor’s request and pledge to constitute a committee to look-into the matter.
“We are not arguing with the university’s governing council but to state that due process was not followed in the disengagement while requesting or its review,” he said.
The affected staff took turns in stating their cases while submitting relevant written submissions to the committee.