The greatest trouble with history is that it casts stubborn, hard shadows! George Santayana, a Spanish-American Philosopher, and Writer, once observed this when he wrote: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". This is profound. It is also ecclesiastical and prophetic. In its modern parallelism, it bears direct congruence to what is playing out today in the University of Calabar against the spirited efforts of the Vice-Chancellor of the Institution, Prof. Florence Banku Obi, and her Administration to tear apart the hydra-headed monster of corruption and other misdemeanors in the University.

Never in the history of the over 50 years of second-generation Institution has the University witnessed such a massive transformation as it is currently ongoing. A transformation no one has ever dared to attempt. A transformation that the first female Vice-Chancellor and 11th in the roll has brought. This is a transformation many have in radical terms described as an "academic revolution for excellence". She has dared the odds and established a standard regardless of whose ox is gored. But the big question is, would she survive it? The answer is more like a dangerously heavy pregnant snake, but we hope it's in affirmative. 

Upon assumption of office as VC, like other good-spirited Leaders who are ready to work and redefine the academic system, Prof. Obi made her vision clear and simple: "to combat corruption and other short practices and to enhance academic excellence in the institution". 

To achieve the above set goals, the VC has among others, stopped the compulsory sales of textbooks to students by lecturers in their offices or through their agents___all books are to be displayed and sold at the University bookshop. She also introduced the serialization and customization of examination papers which makes it impossible for anyone to reproduce the University examination booklets and go unnoticed. Being committed to ensuring academic excellence, the VC established the Quality Assurance Directorate which is saddled with the responsibility to combat examination fraud. By now, while it is true that the issue of sorting has not been completely eliminated, you can agree with me that it has been drastically reduced. Prof. Obi has also tamed corruption in the Institution through a strategic directive scrapping out the idea of having 'examination officers' hence, vesting the responsibility of uploading students' results on the individual lecturers, which must be done within a few weeks after the examination. This was the major area where corruption and other short practices were taking place. However, lecturers are no longer given the opportunity to bank students' results to extort and exploit them, while on the other hand, students are now compelled to read their books if they must pass. Most importantly, the Vice Chancellor has maintained an open-door administration that gives every willing staff and student of the institution to have free access to her at any time. No serious-minded students of the institution that doesn't have the VC's only contact today, safe for those who willingly wish not to. This is a vision the current administration of Prof. Florence Banku Obi has remained unapologetically committed to from inception among others. 

However, as a lucrative industry where many have been feeding fat and the current administration has taken it away from them for sanity, they are not happy and are ready to fight dirty. This is part of the corruption fighting back. We are not surprised. We much expected it, but may God vindicate the righteous.  

S.M. Anyanwu Esq, the petitioner is acting out a script. It is an old script. Faced with an overload of official corruption, sexual harassment, abuse of office, and other weighty allegations leveled against him, the sleaze in a proxy fightback is crying murder and splashing mud on the Institution and its Leadership. This is expected and the public need not lose any sleep over it. It would be uncharitable to beat a child and also forbid him from crying. The salacious Lecturer has an inalienable right to cry, except that his lachrymal efforts should be properly directed.

On Monday 18th September 2023, the social space was awashed with a spurious and ridiculous publication of purported allegations against  Professor Florence Banku Obi, Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar. It was Nuhu Ribadu, the first head of Nigeria’s premier anticorruption agency who famously made the observation that partly headlines this rejoinder. Corruption indeed has a way of lashing back at its traducers once it is unraveled and threatened in order to escape the just and equitable punishment that it duly deserves by the laws of the land. 

What is the competence of the suspended Dean of Law in questioning who was employed, how and when he/she was employed when he's under investigation for alleged official corruption, highhandedness, sexual harassment, and other misdemeanors? I recall, and most Nigerians will remember that Prof. Ndifon, after his first ordeal, was elected as Dean of Faculty of Law in December 2020 which he assumed office in January 2021. Even if the so-called allegation that the Vice Chancellor gave employment to her biological daughter in December 2021 and backdated the appointment to December 2019 is of any relevance, at what point did the Dean know about this? If the so-called petition is not in bad faith, why did the petitioner have to wait until Prof. Ndifon is under investigation before the sudden realization that the Vice Chancellor's daughter was not coming to work? As one who is first responsible to the Dean of the Faculty, is there any evidence that the Dean at any point queried the alleged erring staff or wrote to any higher authority before his current woes? 

It is evident that the institution is once again on a tumultuous route of a desperate, rapacious, and exposed Lecturer bounding the University and its leadership. The embattled law dean is testing the grounds while others may follow shortly. It is a programmed distraction and deliberate onslaught on the image and integrity of the Vice Chancellor and the Institution. He has good company in some media outlets and law firms making wild claims about the Vice Chancellor and her family. They have their paymasters and their agenda is similar: give a dog a bad name to hang it.

Now, where do all these shenanigans lead us to? Cold surrender? It is often said that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. Vigilance? Yes! The public needs to be more vigilant and circumspect at this time. The fight against corruption cannot and should not be expected to be a gentleman’s war. Corruption is an industry and its players are experienced actors.

 In our local parlance, It is often said that a drowning man sees a broomstick as an imminent iroko tree to clinch on for safety. This is not different from Ndifon's situation now. 

Unimaginably, one was rather taken aback by one of the claims that the Vice Chancellor's daughter, Ms. Queeneth Bankpang Agbe had bought a property worth N44 million in Abuja, herein giving the impression that the Vice Chancellor bought the N44 million house using her daughter as a coverup. While the Federal Capital Territory is often perceived as one of the best places to live in Nigeria, I am still flabbergasted perhaps, how befitting the N44 million house will be for a Vice Chancellor after her tenure. 

For the benefit of the unsuspecting public, Queeneth Bankpang Agbe who is the Vice Chancellor’s last child is a refined Lawyer who was in the Nigerian Law School between 2007-2008 after she meritoriously bagged an LLB from Madonna University. In 2009, barely one year after her call to the Nigerian Barr, she earned a certificate in Professional Mediation, Reconciliation, and Arbitration. 

As if that wasn't enough, Ms. Queeneth with her large appetite for knowledge left  to the United Kingdom for her PreMasters degree and her Masters degree where she acquired an LLM(Master's) in Law with specialization in Telecommunications and Maritime Law from the University of Hertfordshire between 2009-2012. 

Unlike some young folks who will prefer to fold their hands and depend solely on their well-to-do parents, Queeneth worked in the UK before returning to Nigeria to join the legal silt, Afe Babalola & Co. as a Senior Partner/Associate. 

Later, Ms. Queeneth joined Baze University as Lecturer 11 before she was subsequently appointed as Special Assistant, Legal by distinguished Senator John Owan Enoh. With great determination for success, she became the Company Secretary of MYSTROSE, an international oil company. As a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Ms. Queeneth Bankpang is currently a Principal Partner and founder of QBA Solicitors. 

It is not enough for us to see the tantrums, saber rattling, and name-calling of the Vice Chancellor by these microscopic few, Prof. Florence Banku Obi and her beloved children are very hard-working fellows. Obi has painstakingly built all her children to an enviable height of independence that they can acquire anything of their choice today without necessarily getting any support from their mother. A little background check on her family will definitely allay your doubts. Her first son is a Deputy Director in NUC, second son is a third-term member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, third son is an Army Major. Those who have failed to properly groom theirs, while taking delight in ravaging other people's innocent children can now hide their faces in deep shame.

Therefore, those who have suddenly become anti-graft crusaders because of the weighty allegations leveled against them in the University of Calabar should face those issues rather than crying wolf and chasing wild geese. 

Finally, it is instructive to state that, every issue should be weighed on its merits. Those with corruption scandals, questionable character, and disciplinary questions to answer should face those issues squarely as there are in the Institution. Blackmailers should be seen for who they are, and be tackled more frontally.

Comr. Onigah Joseph - is a proud Alumnus of the University of Calabar and a Calabar-based Public Relations practitioner.

*Pst Bill Francis Bill Prof Obi Adopted son Ceo Billionaire Bill Media Team and Blog*

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post