UNICAL suspends bursar on alleged corruption

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Barely four weeks of assuming office, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Florence Banku Obi has directed the suspension of the university’s registrar on corruption allegations.

This is seen as a bid to arrest the spread of the malfeasance in the school.

The suspended Bursar, Mrs Beatrice Igwe is allegedly involved in financial misconduct.

Obi, had at her investiture speech early December, tagged the university a cesspool of corruption and avarice.

She said the university is having a reputational problem orchestrated by what she called the ‘’ugly spectre of a moral eclipse, under the gloomy climate of unbridled desire for immediate gratification, quick wealth, mediocrity and compromise of academic standards, sexual harassment, employment, admission and hostel racketeering”.

These vices, according to her, have indisputably stained the hard-earned reputation of the university which the entire community had collectively laboured to build over time, pointing out that she was committed to waging the war against corruption which she said was cardinal to the recovery of the soul and values of the university system.

”I am committed to putting in place robust strategies to prosecute this war, part of which shall include establishing a framework to protect the integrity of examinations and results, reinforcing the whistle-blowing system and introducing student assessment of lecturers” she said.

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In her unwavering commitment to zero tolerance for corruption, a new code of ethics for staff and students for information and guidance, collaboration with anti-graft agencies will be introduced, including a raft of other measures to apprehend and discipline culprits according to the law.

“As a psychologist, I am not oblivious of the fact that human beings are unpredictable, capricious and shady in character most of the time…I have garnered the experience, exposure, training, administrative skills to help me cope with situations and people’’, she said, and pledged to dedicate herself wholly and completely to the ‘onerous duty of pragmatic leadership, tough choices and sacrifices.’

For her, accountability, transparency, truth and courage are her watchwords and solicited for support and encouragement, by the way of advice or constructive criticism, in order tp enable her vision of the university materialize.

She regretted that contrary to exemplary university ethos, sycophancy and rumour mongering have assumed a larger-than-life character portending a grave danger to the soul of the institution.

The don lamented that the university has witnessed the corrosive dimensions of rumour mill, flattery and lies, much of which have destroyed relationships, undermined confidence and affected the quality of academic governance and governance.

“I want to state categorically and without mincing words that my administration will not tolerate sycophants, rumour mongers and peddlers of lies, as they are antithetical to the culture of excellence.

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“I am prepared to build, therefore, fiction will not replace facts; lies will not replace truth; nor science and enlightenment be dislodged superstition’’, Obi declared.

Obi, the first female vice chancellor, to preside over the 45 years old institution, stated that she is on a historic mission to do things differently from a new perspective, in order to reposition the institution.

She reiterated her vision during the campaign for the Vice Chancellorship, to ‘ re-position the university in line with global best practices to a foremost ivory tower for the blossoming of quality teaching and learning, research and community service, towards the production of quality graduates.”

In the mean time, the 11th vice-chancellor has approved the appointment of Mrs Atim Mensah, as the Acting Bursar of the institution.

UNICAL’s Registrar, Gabriel Egbe, in a statement said, ”The appointment of the acting Bursar follows the suspension of the incumbent Bursar, Mrs Beatrice Igwe for alleged misconduct currently being investigated in council.

“Mrs Atim Mensah, whose appointment took effect from December 22, 2020, is expected to be responsible to the Vice Chancellor for the day-to-day administration and control of the university.”

Egbe also disclosed that six new directorates have been created in the University Bursary by the vice chancellor, pointing out that the re-organisation of the bursary is in line with the Governing Council’s directive to unbundle the apex finance department for efficient service delivery.

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The newly created directorates and their heads, includes Budget, Planning and Control under the Leadership of Joseph Odu; Procurement and Supply, Joseph Egbenta; Staff and Management Services, Paul Agbor; and Final Accounts headed by Clement Otogo.

Others are Treasury/Fund Management and Bursar’s office which will be led by two acting Directors, Mrs Stella Ndukwe and Clment Bassey.

All appointments took effect from December 18, 2020 just as the Deputy Bursars will serve for a period of four years while the two Acting Directors which are Chief Accountants will serve for a period of two years and are all expected to report to the Bursar from time to time.

Mrs Igwe’s removal seen in some quarters as a result of the power tussle between the new vice chancellor and her predecessor, Professor Zana Akapgu.

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