Provost appointment inflames protest in Plateau college
Protesting workers of the Plateau State College of Health Technology, Pankshin, under the auspices of the Joint Union of Plateau State Owned Tertiary Institutions on Thursday shut down the health institution.
The PUNCH learnt that the protest which started on Wednesday resumed on Thursday morning as the workers barricaded the gate and prevented vehicles from going in or leaving the campus.
The situation was said to have grounded activities at the campus and left the students stranded.
Many of the students who had waited in vain for their classes in the morning were seen returning home when The PUNCH correspondent visited the institution around 1:30 pm on Thursday.
The aggrieved workers were also seen marching through the campus to the gate carrying placards with different inscriptions some of which read “College of Health Technology, Pankshin is not a welfare ground for politicians”, “The Council position on provost appointment must be respected”, “College of Health Pankshin, Oil well for Plateau state Government functionaries”, “Appointment of Dr Prince Fwanje: Lalong’s legacy project?”,”Our pension is for life”, The law governing College of Health Technology, Pankshin must be respected”, “Casual and Temporary workers: No allowances over 40 months and no appointment”, among others.
Addressing the workers, the Chairman of the Joint Union of Plateau state Tertiary Owned Tertiary Institution, Gokir Fwenshinen Ayuba, accused Governor Simon Lalong-led administration of working to destroy the health institution without regard to the law governing the college
Ayuba who insisted that the workers would not accept the re-appointment of the college provost, Dr Prince Fwanje, vowed to continue with the protest until their demands were met.
The union leader said “We are saying it loud to the hearing of the community here in Pankshin and to the hearing of the government that enough is enough. We are tired of the current leadership in the College of Health Technology Pankshin. This administration has stayed for four years and there has not been any reasonable development in the institution. What we have had is only an increment in school fees every year and we have not seen anything that has been done with it.
“As workers of this institution, we are saying that if the government has sympathy for us and for this noble institution which is the oldest College of Health Technology in Nigeria and the West African sub-region, then it must come to our aid because the college is looking more of a pre-primary school and we can’t continue this way. We want to grow and we want the government to intervene in this matter so that we can get leaders who will come and develop the health institution. By the time we allow leaders to keep coming and milking from the institution’s little resources and just be going like that, then our problem will continue. We want a precedent to be set now so that henceforth, any leader who is coming here must know that he must be up and doing.”
The Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union in the institution, James Lohnan, who also decried the attitude of the government on the matter added “As a union, we met with the State Commissioner for Higher Education on the need for a due process to be followed in the appointment of another Provost for the college this time around because the 2003 law of the college which was gazetted in 2005 stipulates in Part 4 Section 12 (2 and 3) that:
“There shall be a provost for the college who shall be appointed from within the college by the governor on the advice of the council or that the governor on the advice of the council may appoint the provost from outside the college if no person within the college is qualified to be so appointed.
“We left from the meeting with the Commissioner with an assurance that they will comply with the law only for us to hear an announcement that the same person who is an outsider and whose leadership is unhelpful to the college has been reappointed as the college provost in contravention to the law
“We are saying that his reappointment is unacceptable to the workers because his appointment was against the recommendation of the governing council and moreover, we have qualified and capable persons within the institution who will head the college. So we, want the government to respect the law”
The PUNCH reports that the Plateau state Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Bernard Matur, had last week announced the reappointment of Dr. Prince Fwanje as the Provost of the college following the expiration of his four-year tenure in the first instance.
When contacted to speak on the worker’s protest, the commissioner and the newly appointed Provost could not be reached at the time of filling this report as their phones were switched off.