The Governing Council and Management of the Niger Delta University (NDU) have thrown its weight behind the Bayelsa State Government’s ongoing public service reforms, describing the move as well intentioned and good for the state.
Chairman of the Council, Prof. Steve Azaiki made the declaration, while speaking with newsmen on Tuesday, shortly after a meeting between Bayelsa State Governor, Honourable Seriake Dickson and the Governing Boards of state-owned tertiary institutions in Government House, Yenagoa.
Prof Azaiki, who expressed the NDU Governing Council’s readiness to implement the government’s policy of sanitizing the public service, noted that, the practice where the University solely depended on the state government to fund its over bloated workforce was unsustainable.
A press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Francis Ottah-Agbo stressed that, the NDU Governing Board Chairman, absolved Governor Dickson of any blames in the current shake-up in the University, where about 1,700 workers have been earmarked for redeployment, retirement and outright disengagement.
According to him, it was the leadership of the University that listed the affected staff following the outcome of a discreet verification to make for more efficiency, better service delivery as well as create space for the employment of young qualified people, particularly Bayelsans.
His words, “The amount of money that Government has been giving to NDU is not sustainable. Suppose oil price falls or there are issues of governance or politics. Anything can happen and then the University will collapse. So, we need to look inwards and see how we can come up with a sustainable figure.
“We are going to look at the list again especially in the case of NDU. We provided to the government, 1700 non-academic staff that we think should be redeployed or should be disengaged by the institution to make sure that the policy of government is effective.
“However, one of the key things the Governor said in the meeting, is that, there could be need for us to reabsorb most of these people. So, Council will meet and review the list, and we will come up with a solution on how best we can help our own people.
“After all, some of them are due for retirement, some are incompetent while others are facing disciplinary actions. So, we will make separate recommendations for all the cases because I believe that the Governor is ready to accommodate Bayelsans in our system. So there is no need for people to take laws into their hands.”
While, urging labour unions to show understanding and play by the rules of engagement, Prof Azaiki warned students and lecturers to shun social vices such as cultism and sexual harassment.
He insisted that, the University would not only expel or sack anyone found culpable, but also work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure the prosecution of such persons.
Also speaking, the Acting Vice Chancellor of NDU, Prof Samuel Edoumiekumo described the rumours making the rounds that, the University has increased its school fees, as malicious, blatant lies and the height of blackmail.
According to the Vice Chancellor, returning students in Management and social sciences, education are paying N35, 000, while their counterparts in the medical sciences pay N45, 000 as against the N230, 000 and N250.000 reported in the media.
While calling on parents and guardians, as well as the general public to ignore the rumours, he urged all concerned to visit the institution’s website, ndufees.com, to avail themselves of the official fee structure of the University.
Edoumiekumo, who restated the university management’s resolve to implement the rules and regulations as enshrined in the students’ handbook, pointed out that, any student who failed to pay his or her fees within the stipulated period of payment would be sanctioned accordingly.
On his part, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Students Affairs, Mr. Austin Adigio said the governor has created a new platform to foster a stronger students-government relationship to enable him interact more closely with students on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
He reaffirmed the present administration’s commitment to building the state for posterity through education and stressed the need for students to remain law abiding, as the government would not hesitate to deal decisively with anyone caught fomenting trouble to scuttle the academic calendar of any institution in the state.