The attention of the University Management has been drawn to the series of letters by Dr. M.L. Igbafen, released to the press, generally expressing disaffection and making some outright allegations, all having the effect of heating up the University system and sending wrong signals to the public about the state of affairs in the University.
Ordinarily, one would have ignored the spurious allegations of Dr Igbafen, (of which I am sure the press and general public are tired by now), but it is necessary to set the records straight as they do not portray the sentiments of the rest of the staff.
(1) Implementation of Government directives on some matters within the University.
Dr. Igbafen in a letter released to the press, on June 10 2020, accused the University Management of harassment and intimidation of leadership of staff unions and disrespect of trade unionism, by deploying a detachment of policemen to chase away Union (JAC) representatives on grounds that they (Union Representatives) harassed people at the gate and prevented them from duty, even for essential services.
In that statement to the press, he noted that it is an accepted fact that it is wrong and illegal for representatives of any union to harass people at the gate and prevent them from reporting for duty.
Some leaders of JAC had positioned themselves at the gate and were physically harassing and turning back staff on essential services from reporting for work. The University Management had called them for discussions and they had refused to honour the invitations, yet they had resorted to physically turning staff back at the gate.
The University Management invited the police to prevent the breakdown of Law and Order as is usual when peace is threatened. Nobody was chased away. No Union member was harassed.
In his usual virtuperous and venomous attitude to anything done by the Management, Dr. M.L. Igbafen rushed to the press to concoct a spurious allegation of harassment. No member of his union ASUU was present or involved. What is his locus standi for that allegation? He was merely acting out his avowed penchant for malice and disaffection. When was Dr. Igbafen appointed as the spokesman of non – teaching staff unions?
(2) Fake News by Nairaland
On 14th June 2020, a news blog on social media called NairaLand posted a damaging publication on their platform titled “More Facts About Obaseki Certificate Scandal” in which the author(s) alleged that the VC of AAU Prof. I.A. Onimawo granted an interview and said the certificate of Governor Obaseki from UI was fake, that Onimawo graduated in 1977 and that the Governor was lobbying the VC to accept him into the Alumni Association.
The Vice Chancellor immediately called a press conference on the 15th June and openly denounced the publication and debunked the allegation. This was widely circulated. The allegation was widely condemned as untrue, libelous and wicked and was a demonic attempt to offend the VC, the State Governor and the University.
A letter was sent to the management of Nairaland, wherein it was stated in unmistaken terms, the extreme reservation, displeasure and objection to the defamatory post, demanding the retraction of the post, the immediate removal from the net, the full disclosure of the names/addresses and relevant information about the person responsible for the publication. The letter also demanded an unreserved apology to the Vice Chancellor to be widely published on their platform and 2 other widely read tabloids. An investigative committee was set up to get to the root of the matter.
A report was made to the DSS, NCC, and the Police.
(3) Another Accusation by Dr. Igbafen
While the above incidents were going on, on June 22nd Dr. Igbafen wrote another letter, which he gave wide publicity, in which he insinuated that the Vice Chancellor has sponsored an incendiary comment to be made on the rebuttal story of the Vice Chancellor on the Nairaland Forum, which insinuated that “the leadership of ASUU, AAU and the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council cannot be exonerated from the whole controversy as an attempt to get at the Vice Chancellor”. Dr. Igbafen wrote further that the comment he is referring to has been removed from the Nairaland Forum. This implies that only Dr. Igbafen saw the comment as no other person has reported seeing it.
It was clear from the letter that he was attempting, once again, to further cause disaffection in the University by false claims and to exacerbate the effect of the fake post by creating another poisonous dimension. All Dr. Igbafen needed to do was to debunk the post he saw, which he claims has been removed, instead of maliciously pointing dirty fingers at the Vice Chancellor.
The VC’s response to the letter Dr. Igbafen wrote was to ask him to give peace a chance, to desist from further heating up the polity of the University, and desist from externalizing issues of the University by rushing to the press on every matter, creating the very onerous impression to the public that there is disharmony and unrest in the University, when in fact a vast majority of staff are going about their normal duties peacefully and achieving progress and prosperity for the University.
He appealed to Dr. Igbafen to provide evidence of that particular comment on the rebuttal story/press conference where the Vice Chancellor is said to have made the said disaffecting insinuation. The Vice Chancellor distanced himself from the comment and told Dr. Igbafen that he is going too far, and therefore enough is enough.
(4) Allegation of Threat to Life
It was indeed very shocking and embarrassing when on the same June 22nd Dr. Igbafen rushed again to the Press and circulated another letter he wrote to the Pro Chancellor titled “Threat to my Life and Personal Safety by the Vice Chancellor” (again externalizing University matters)
He said the VC threatened his person in a telephone conversation, and he now has a personal fear for the security of his life and that of his job.
The following facts must be brought to the attention of the University Community by way of information and clarification.
(a) Nobody has threatened the life, personal safety or job of Dr. M.L. Igbafen. There is a due process for tackling all issues. When a person contravenes any Law or corporate regulations, there is no amount of “crying of wolf” that will prevent the exercise of sanctions. The wheels of the Law may grind slowly at times, but they do grind and the disciplinary process involves a trial by peers. No one can be victimized. One may ask: since when did “enough is enough” become a threat to life? Is enough not enough?
(b) Dr. Igbafen is now well known to the press as one who seems to behave like a rabble rouser, who seeks to heat up an otherwise calm and harmonious polity. Most of the letters he writes are without recourse to the congress of the Union he is leading. He is hiding behind the guise of the Union to pursue a clandestine agenda for the destabilization of the University. He is not the only ASUU Branch Chairman in Nigeria. What ASUU stands for is far from what he exhibits. His methods are neither wise nor consultative. His opprobrious, confrontational, restive, distracting, unprogressive “wild wild west” irascible billy jingoism” are not ASUU style. Many members are embarrassed by his write- ups. However the University has managed his antics for years and this is not the time to threaten life or job. Due process will handle him.
(c) While this administration has remained focused and has brought progress and development to this University in leaps and bounds, Dr. M.L. Igbafen has continued to sow seeds of discord, disaffection, public mudslinging, press sensationalism, image depreciation and generation of negative centrifugal energies. He makes a lot of opprobrious noise in order to cover up his shortcomings. He rushes to the press, who are now tired of him, to try to paint a dreary picture of an otherwise first class University. Other counterparts of his are making great effort to protect their institutions and the corporate sanctity of the organizations that gives them life and fulfillment, but he is engaged in the direct opposite. He is a cross this administration has had to bear and we continue to record huge achievements despite his damaging antics.
The University Management hereby calls on all the staff and students of Ambrose Alli University to remain focused and refuse to be distracted by avowed detractors.
Our University is progressing in leaps and bounds due to the concerted, diligent and unrelenting commitment of the majority of staff.
We are not deceived to think that these detractors, mudslingers and warmongers will relent in the generation of negative energies. However, we are encouraged in the knowledge that light cannot be conquered by darkness.
The University Management assures the general public that there is peace, progress, development, advancement and spectacular breakthrough in Ambrose Alli University. The discordant tune of Dr. Igbafen in his cantankerous manner has not succeeded in breaking the ranks of the majority of hardworking staff.
Above is for the information of all staff and general public.
Edward U. Aihevba, FPISM, FNISM, FCAI MANUPA
Deputy Registrar, Information/Public Relations Officer