Reps Committee to intervene in UNICAL crisis


By EricJames Ochigbo

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petition has pledged to intervene towards resolving the crisis at the University of Calabar.

The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Jerry Alagboso, said this at an investigative hearing on a petition filed by new employees of the university who had yet to receive salaries two years after.

Alagboso said that the committee would make contact with the Head of Service of the Federation, Budget Office and other stakeholders to resolve the matter.

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He urged the Vice-Chancellor to strive hard to ensure that the workers were paid and appealed to them to exercise patience for the process to be completed.

The employees had petitioned the committee over unpaid salaries.

Earlier, a spokesperson for the petitioners, Mr Ikpati Achibong told the committee that non of the newly recruited staff has received salaries after working for 27 months.

“Out of the 1,000 staff affected, some have completed documentation, while others were unable due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

According to him, at the resumption of work after the lockdown, it was time to elect a new vice-chancellor and once she came on board, she suspended the process.

“During a meeting with the vice-chancellor, she attributed the suspension to Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) process, but upon an inquiry from the agency, we were told that the process was stopped by the vice- chancellor.

“We pray that the committee will plead with the vice-chancellor to complete the process so that we can begin to receive our salaries,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Florence Obi, told the committee that she assumed office on Dec. 1, 2020.

She said that upon assumption of office, she discovered large number of new employees at the documentation unit and she directed that the documentation be done in batches.

“I later on got a report of a suspected job racketeering and I acted by suspending the process pending the outcome of an investigation. Although the report was not made public, a lot of public officers were indicted.

“Prior to my appointment, the university got approval to employ 1000 persons but over 2000 persons were employed.

“When the problem of non-payment of salaries came up, I contacted IPPIS and was told that university has deceived them. I discovered that the former management lied to IPPIS that it has approval from Budget Office and to captured new staff,” she said.

According to her, at it stands, the entire workforce in the university may not get salary as from September as a result of that over employment.

In his ruling, Alagboso commended the vice-chancellor for her efforts towards resolving the problem and adjourned hearing until July 14. (NAN)

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