THE WHINING OF A RABID DOG: AMBROSE ALLI UNIVERSITY’S RESPONSE TO PROFESSOR FRED ESUMEH’S ILL-CONCEIVED PRESS CONFERENCE
The attention of the Management of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, has been drawn to the press conference held Monday 15th August, 2022, by the Coordinator of the Benin Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Fred Esumeh, in which, among other things, he attacked the University Management, the Special Intervention Team (SIT), the Edo State Government and questioned the administrative structure and processes of the University. Professor Esumeh also condemned the conduct of the 2020/2021 Second Semester examinations in the University, cast aspersions on the integrity of the certificates from the University, and, above all, threatened to petition regulatory and professional bodies. The most laughable was declaring the 2020/2021 Second Semester examinations in the University illegal, and saying his union would not recognise it! Esumeh’s magisterial airs, unbridled arrogance and constant reference to “industrial crisis” in Ambrose Alli University is not only bizarre, but also irritating especially when viewed against the reality on the ground.
Ordinarily, Management would not be joining words with a “slow poison” anarchist and a failed strike prosecutor like Professor Esumeh, but it is compelled to do so in the public interest and in the interest of stakeholders, alumni and all the well-wishers of the University. Remarkably, Professor Esumeh, who has proven to be a very bitter academic with a deeply troubled spirit, should be pitied, because this is a man who is unsure of what the future holds for him in Ambrose Alli University as an academic having failed a simple biometric exercise conducted by the Edo State Government for all University staff and is now haunted by a deep, unassailable trepidation. Esumeh is virtually a commander without his troops, having long since been abandoned by men and women of good conscience who have taken their destinies in their hands and returned to work in Ambrose Alli University in defiance of the unneeded strike forced upon the University. This is what irks him; this is why he must fight desperately and dirty, but fruitlessly, to retain his relevance in the activist space. The solidarity rally he hosted to win public opinion against the University Management, the SIT and the Edo State Government with ASUU national in Ekpoma in early July this year failed woefully. The dirty fight Esumeh is now engaged in to discredit the very university that produced him and brought him the little “recognition” he is now abusing, and his call for the non-recognition of her certificates should, therefore, be seen in proper perspective.
The facts of the case
ASUU, AAU joined the national strike on February 14th, 2022, against the appeals of Management to have a rethink. We still had 5-6 weeks before the commencement of the Second Semester 2021/2022 academic session examinations then. In fact, the continuous assessment tests were scheduled for the second week of February, 2022 before the strike commenced. At that time, it was expected that all serious academics in the University (including even the “unserious” ones) would have sufficiently taught the courses assigned to them for not less than six weeks. However, in deference to ASUU, Management sent the students home via a circular dated 18th March, 2022, but continued to appeal to the union leaders to have a rethink because of our peculiarities. Even when there appeared to be no headway in negotiations at the national level, Management, nevertheless, made efforts to pay some months of outstanding salaries after consultations with ASUU Exco. It further met with other academic staff of good conscience and recalled the students to campus for academic activities. An adjusted academic calendar approved on behalf of Senate, was released through a circular, ref: AAU/REG/CIR.G.100/Vol.VIII/49 and dated 26th May, 2022, announcing the commencement of the Second Semester lectures (note, lectures, not examinations). Amidst aggressive propaganda by ASUU and its agents that AAU resumption was “a hoax”, the postponed continuous assessment test as a result of the ASUU strike, took place between Monday 20th June and Saturday 25th June, 2022, almost a month after the resumption of academic activities in the University for the Second Semester. The Second Semester lectures themselves ended on Thursday 30th June, 2022 with the commencement of examinations on Monday 4th July, 2022 starting with GST and ENT courses. Between 30th May, 2022 and 30th June, 2022 when the Second Semester examinations commenced, the committed, honest and dedicated lecturers engaged their students in revision classes in preparation for the examinations. It should be put on record that more men and women of conscience among ASUU members returned to work following the suspension of union activities in all tertiary institutions by the Edo State Government in a Special Announcement of June 8, 2022, conveying the decision of Exco.
Contrary to the lies being bandied in the public space by Professor Esumeh and his cohorts, only courses that were taught were examined in the Second Semester. The University Management issued clear directives to that effect and followed through with monitoring. Professor Esumeh should tell the whole world if, for example, the courses allocated to him in the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, were examined. He has preferred to live a lie, turning truth on its head. While many of his so-called “ASUU strongmen and women,” in the name of prosecuting a “national” strike, withheld the outstanding results of their students and stopped them from graduating, they also made sure their textbooks were not on strike with them as they surreptitiously ferried these books to class reps to help them market at exorbitant prices. (This band of mindless and exploitative characters were consequently queried by Management). It was ironical that some of the academics who insisted they were on strike sent their own children who school in the University to write examinations in courses taught by their colleagues with good conscience whom they labelled slaves. Professor Esumeh should have taken pains to not only dissuade them from writing these examinations “since they were not taught” or, better still, inquire from these children of his colleagues why they did not protest “since they were not taught.”
For the avoidance of doubt, Management never forced examinations on students. The atmosphere on the entire campus is peaceful and bustles with full academic activities. It is a far cry from the “crisis” situation Professor Esumeh painted. Professor Esumeh has not come to terms with the fact that having initially propagated lies that no academic activity was taking place in the University, examinations could be conducted with the full cooperation of lecturers they thought they had in their grips. Therefore, the examinations must be discredited, all to give a lie to the main lie that ASUU AAU members are still on strike. He must please his masters that he is still in control of the “AAU Stronghold” as Zonal Coordinator! Talk of personal ego over the public interest!
Sadly for him, students are happy with Management and grateful that they have completed the 2020/2021 academic session and commenced the 2021/2022 in spite of the odds that were placed on their path by a small band of academic terrorists and principalities led by Professor Esumeh. All statutory meetings have been holding despite “ASUU’s” insistence that members should stay at home and not attend. In fact, the more the directives are issued nowadays the more they are ignored and the academic union has grown ashamed and weary of issuing queries to the growing band of altruistic members they call “traitors”. They have also cleaned up all available resources and are now calling for donations to fight more battles they know they will never win. Remarkably, to ensure that students from the few remaining departments where lecturers insist they are still on strike do not suffer unjustly, the University has filled some vacancies and commenced more recruitment.
In his devious attempts to run down the examinations, Professor Esumeh raised a spurious allegation of “mass failure” in courses he alleged were “not taught” and how, in order to ameliorate this situation, there has been “upgrading”. This allegation shows that Professor Esumeh has for months and years been collecting salaries from the system without any idea of how it is run; what a shame! We are now in the 2021/2022 academic session. Most examinations for the 2020/2021 academic session have been concluded. The last results released by the university were for the 2019/2020 academic session. These results were uploaded to the result portal by the respective Heads of Department or their appointed officers after due consideration by the various Departmental Boards and Faculty Boards of Studies. The University Management has no role to play in these processes, other than providing the portal platforms. Professor Esumeh is hereby challenged to show evidence and list the courses that had “mass failure” and the ones that were “upgraded”. It will also be necessary for him to tell the world the person or persons who did the alleged “upgrading”. This challenge is being thrown because, to the best of our knowledge, examination results have neither been considered nor final results released in any of the courses examined in the first and second semesters of the 2020/2021 academic session, the Computer Based Examinations inclusive. In fact, lecturers are still marking!
Professor Esumeh should be told in unequivocal terms that his evil attempt to malign and de-market a university he has been a part of and that made him a professor is not a mark of altruism, heroism, patriotism or sanctimony, but the product of acute visionlessness. In his threat to draw the ire of professional and regulatory bodies against the University, Professor Esumeh forgot that Clinical lecturers from the College of Medicine, for instance, were never on strike as they are not ASUU members. The activities of these lecturers who operated from the confines of the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital were never disrupted for once by ASUU because they had no right or reason to do so. All other professional courses in the University followed due process in the teaching and conduct of examinations, with representatives of these professional bodies present to supervise these examinations. So we encourage Professor Esumeh, the writer of petitions, to go ahead and do his petitions!
As he reels over his failure to continue to make AAU, Ekpoma, an ASUU “stronghold” in order to secure visibility at ASUU national, let him be told that the argument that some lecturers whom he implied did not teach their students even from the beginning of the Second Semester of 2020/2021 when there had been no strike is self-indicting for academics who claim to be purveyors of “high academic standards” and anti-academic fraud. To have received salaries and not taught their students even when there had been no strike at the time is the height of reckless irresponsibility.
Professor Esumeh should be told in plain terms that his laughable campaign of attempted self-redemption, now turned into self-immolation, launched by his cabal of failed strike prosecutors in the University bolstered by shameless renegades from sister universities sharing ignorance and ignominy together in the name of solidarity, has been left behind, cold and badly bloodied at the train station by the developmental strides of the present University Administration. Buoyed by vile temper, bitter revenge, a wounded spirit, failed expectations, pretend altruism, cracked visions and reeling in the throes of a nasty, shameful defeat, these soldiers of misfortune have clearly lost touch with reality and have, instead, preferred to live in an alternate universe.
While they whine like rabid dogs, they should be reminded that majority of the resilient students of Ambrose Alli University have completed their final and other levels examinations, Oath-taking and induction ceremony for graduands of the department of Nursing took place on the 14th of August, 2022 at the International Conference Centre in the University, and the SUG elections were successfully and peacefully conducted during the middle of the second semester examinations through e-voting, which proves to all doubting individuals that AAUE has commenced full academic activities since 26th May, 2022. June salaries have just been paid to workers who returned to work.
The NUC, various professional bodies and the general public, should be well informed about the goings-on in Ambrose Alli University and ignore the warped, distorted, bitter and vengeful narrative spewing from the tongues of principalities and powers whose dominance of the academic, political and social space has come to an end.
The crusade of this small self-serving cabal of academic staff in the University who have held sway for years, leading a band of gullible lecturers, forming de facto University managements, disrupting academic calendars, fighting for crumbs from every administration and becoming virulent when ignored, using strikes as weapons of mass destruction and promoting their egos as ASUU Zonal and national leaders, holding on to passions that are detrimental to the interests of AAUE students, their parents, guardians, society and the survival of the University, is now over.
On the issue of “Controversial and Inconclusive Biometrics”, let it be stated that the last biometric screening exercise has been concluded by the Special Intervention Team and report submitted to His Excellency, the Visitor to the University. The present University Management is aware of the implications of the result of the biometric exercise for some of our colleagues like Professor. Esumeh and his gullible disciples, especially in the light of the National Industrial Court judgement. The University Management had before now tried to seek a soft-landing for those who failed the biometric exercise. After the various attempts at running down the University by Professor Esumeh and his cohorts, the University Management may have to abandon these efforts because they definitely will not add value to Ambrose Alli University.
As for Professor Fred Esumeh the self-opinionated rabble-rouser, this last-ditch effort should teach him some hard lessons: that he is not the redemption he thinks he is; he NEVER will; that the strike he led in AAU, like the biometric verification court case he spearheaded because of the many deficiencies of himself and his fellow principalities, failed woefully because his tactics had become so wearisomely predictable. For now, he should be licking his wounds and counting his losses and go on whining like a bull with a sore horn, a badly beaten dissenter, bathing his battered ego in the tragic stream.
Information and Public Relations Unit,
Vice Chancellor’s Office,
Ambrose Alli University,
Ekpoma, Edo State, NIGERIA.
August 17th, 2022.