The academic activities of the faculty of Basic Medical Sciences and to a large extent clinical classes of the college of medicine at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), have suffered a setback following the Vice Chancellor’s refusal to pay some lecturers.
A source at the faculty of medicine, who pleaded anonymity told our reporter at Enugu, that the Vice chancellor, Prof Luke Anike, brought out a circular requesting stoppage of the salaries of adjunct and contract staff of the university at the end of each academic session. The circular directed that at the end of each academic session, usually in September, the salaries of all adjunct and contract staff in the Medical School be stopped.
Our investigation shows that adjunct and contract staff make up a good percentage of the university staff strength. The faculty of medical sciences does not observe semester system like other faculties as they continue to have lectures and exams even when other departments are on vacation.
Subsequent to the circular which was issued in 2017, all the adjunct and contract staff were not paid for the month of October to December in 2018 despite having worked tirelessly for the said period. The worst is that these lecturers would apply for renewal of their appointments on good time, yet the vice chancellor would keep the letters until January of the next year in order to withhold their salaries.
In most cases, the VC withholds their salaries for three months, from October to December. Following the withheld salaries, the lecturers protested and threatened to go on strike but the then Provost, college of Medicine, Prof. Ugochukwu who is currently the state commissioner for health appealed for continued services which they did.
Sequel to this development, the then Provost wrote a Memo to the Vice Chancellor explaining to him that lecturers in the faculty of Medical Sciences do not run semester system and as such, their renewal and salaries should be a continuum as long as the staff is available for his services and not found wanting. His appeal for release of their withheld salaries as usual, fell on his deaf ears and till today, none has been paid.
The VC has continued to withhold the salaries of these lecturers from 2018. This year, he has continued despite the appeals by the new provost, college of medicine, Prof. Ezeugwu Frank during one of the Faculty Board meetings.
As at filling this report, it was gathered that no one has received his or her letter of renewal of appointment and academic activities are stalled until these lecturers are sure that their three months salaries will not be withheld again.
One of the affected lecturers said, “the clause on the renewal letter is such that you seize to be a staff of the university at the end of September of every year. But we still teach, set exams and mark students scripts up to the last day of October, 2019 and at the end, the vice chancellor will seize our salaries and refuse to renew our appointments.”
Investigation shows that letters for renewal of appointments of these adjunct and contract staff for this year, were written since May/June, yet the VC hasn’t acted on them because he wants to withhold their salaries even when the state govt releases the University subvention.
This development calls for questions;
- Is Enugu state government aware that the salaries of adjunct and contract staff of the university are withheld for three months since 2018?
- Is the Accountant General of the state privy to this arrangement or is it the decision of only the Vice Chancellor?
- Since it is the state govt that releases the salaries of workers which cover that of adjunct and contract staff, what happens to the withdrew salaries? Is it returned to the coffers of the state govt?
The state Government should look into this issue so as to help the students whose lectures and exams are already affected by this policy that started last year. The delay in renewing the appointments makes these affected lectures not sure if they still have engagements with the university of which the examination scripts marked may not reflect the best scores.
One thing that is clear from our investigation is that the Vice Chancellor is not improving on anything, rather, his actions are retrogressive and inimical to academic excellence. His failure to listen to the Provosts who are men with impeccable character, administrators and disciplinarians calls for questioning.
Medical school should be separated from other faculties that run semester system. Regrettably too, the Dean, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Prof. Anibueze has on his own, given up the struggle after series of appeals and explanations.
This is a strange development which His Excellency, the executive Governor of Enugu state, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, with all his commitments to improve the standard of education in the state especially in the areas of prompt payment of salaries, will need to call the VC to order.
The governor has done so much by renovating the College of Medicine, upgrading its facilities and would want the best for both the Students and the staff.