A succession crisis on Tuesday hit the fold of the Federal Polytechnic of Oil and Gas, Ekeowe, in Southern Ijaw local government area of Bayelsa State.
The development followed a protest letter written to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, by the aggrieved staff of the institution, rejecting the choice of the deputy Rector, Dr. Wauton Iwekumo, as the third substantive rector of the institution.
According to the aggrieved staff of the polytechnic, though the outgoing Rector, Dr. Timi Seiyaboh, as required by law is expected to submit three names of possible successors for interview and approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, the outgoing Rector, however, allegedly brought in Dr. Wauton Iwekumo from the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) in 2020 and got him appointed as Deputy Rector in order to allegedly perpetuate a cover–up of various cases of fraud in the institution.
The aggrieved staff in the petition dated July 16, 2021 and addressed to the Minister of Education, argued that the proposed choice of Dr. Iwekumo as the Rector was illegal and did not follow provided procedures and qualification as he has not used up to a year in the institution before his recommendation for the office of Rector.
In the petition, copies of which was made available to journalists in Yenagoa, the state capital, the aggrieved staff under the aegis of the Concerned Staff of the Federal Polytechnic Ekowe led by Comrade Robert Igali, stated that though the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) in particular and other staff and student unions of the polytechnic have waded in, their concern was to stop the practice of appointing lecturers (as succinctly captured in Section 8(2)(i) of the new Polytechnic Act 2019 as amended) from outside the polytechnic sector as Rectors, hence the person nominated was not qualified.
According to the petition, “It is common knowledge that the appointment of Rectors of polytechnics is usually initiated by the Governing Councils of the respective institutions, and recommendation of three candidates done for the approval of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. This process is usually predicated by strict adherence to all laws establishing the polytechnic as well as other relevant guidelines as provided by the Supervising Ministry in guaranteeing the credibility that should characterise the process.
“Contrarily, in outright disregard to the laid down procedures of Section 2.0 above, and to the greatest dismay of the polytechnic, the academia, interest groups and indeed public watchers, Dr. Timi Seiyaboh, the outgoing Rector of the institution, brought in Dr. Wauton Iwekumo from the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) in 2020 and got him appointed as Deputy Rector.
“This misdemeanor was perpetuated such that, as Dr. Seiyaboh exits the scene on Tuesday 27th July 2021, having completed a five-year tenure as Rector, the said Dr. Wauton Iwekumo will take over by hook or crook.
“This act was perfected with the listing of Dr. Iwekumo as the first candidate on the list recommended by the Governing Council for appointment as Rector. It may interest you to note that Dr. Iwekumo suspended his appointment as Associate Professor in the university from which he came, for the personal gains he had discussed with the outgoing Rector.The Federal Ministry of Education’s template in the advertisement for the position of Rector, as well as all guidelines on the appointment of Rector as stated in the Federal Polytechnics (Amended) Act 2019 had consistently stated that applicants MUST have spent a minimum of five years as Chief Lecturer in the polytechnic sector.
“This was cleverly omitted in this instance (see advert document from Polytechnic attached). Also find attached the score sheet of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) which, as you already know, is the agency that oversights Polytechnics and Colleges of Education. Very disturbing and sadly too, Dr. Wauton who had been a senior lecturer at the NDU, has never taught in the polytechnic and do not understand the peculiarity of the institution as such.
“It is pertinent to point out that the different positions in the academic staff cadre of polytechnics do not have equivalents in the university system, and vice versa. He has therefore NEVER being a Chief Lecturer in a polytechnic for a minimum five (5) years until he was illegally and fraudulently engaged by the outgoing Rector Dr. Timi Seiyaboh barely a year ago, in preparation for this evil plan of making Dr. Wauton his successor as Rector with a view to continuing his acts of large-scale misdemeanor.
“It is against the backdrop of the foregoing that we make this passionate and save-our-souls appeal to the Honourable Minister that he use his good office to save the already-drowning Federal Polytechnic Ekowe by appointing a Rector from amongst polytechnic lecturers with requisite qualification that have the minimum five years of teaching experience as Chief Lecturer in the polytechnic system as clearly stipulated in the Federal Polytechnics (Amended) Act 2019, as well as other relevant guidelines contained in the templates of your Ministry,” they stated.