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Gov Otti urges Michael Okpara varsity mgt to be open-minded as it probes recent students protest

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We met N192.2bn debt, replayed some already – Gov Otti

Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, governor of Abia State, has charged management of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) to be open-minded in their investigation to ascertain the real cause of the recent protest by students of the institution, which led to the closure of the school.

Governor Otti said it was important that the panel set up by the university to investigate the student riot gets to the root of the problem in order to forestall future similar unrest.

He gave the charge while receiving management of the university, led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Maduebibisi Iwe, who visited him on Tuesday.

Governor Otti, according to a statement by Kazie Uko, his chief press secretary, noted that the academic distortion, a direct consequence of the school closure, was not healthy for the future of the younger generation, and promised to liaise with the management of the institution and other stakeholders to enable the resumption of full academic activities in the university.

“It is important that you get to the root of the matter. If the investigation panel does not do a thorough job you may not get to the root, and one of the ways to solve a problem is not to prejudge it. That (prejudging) will close your mind to every other suggestion.

“Let’s find out what exactly is the reason for the protest, I think it turned out violent. Let’s do a thorough investigation to know the root cause and deal with it from the root,” he advised.

The Governor, who also spoke on the agric business incubation centre which the university management said would soon be established in the school, directed the Commissioner for Agriculture, Professor Monica Ironkwe, and the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, to engage the institution on the way forward.

On the court case instituted against the university by the Abia State Internal Revenue Service two years ago on account of unremitted PAYE, Governor Otti assured that the matter would be settled amicably.

“There is no way, we as a government would take you to court. Since it is something that predated us we are going to look into it. There is nothing we cannot sit down and resolve,” he said.

Governor Otti also promised to engage the university and its border communities in resolving issues militating against the chances of the university getting the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for its land.

“If it is about issuing a Certificate of Occupancy, I can issue you the Certificate of Occupancy but that does not resolve the problem. Our government likes to engage with the people. We noticed that there was little or no noise when we took down close to 150 buildings on Ossah Road (in Umuahia) to expand that road. The reason is, we engaged with the people, we compensated them before we started the project,” the Governor explained.

He thanked the National Institute for Food Science and Technology, whose members were part of the university delegation, for its letter of appreciation on the successful hosting of a programme in Abia and nominating him as a trustee member.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Vice Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Professor Maduebibisi Iwe, requested the Governor to intervene in a court case instituted against the university by the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue, under the previous administration, over unremitted PAYE.

He also appealed to the Governor to expedite action on issuing the university a Certificate of Occupancy on its location, saying that it would help the school secure its property.

The Vice Chancellor, acknowledged the various efforts being made by the government in infrastructural development in the state and prompt payment of workers salaries, and congratulated the Governor for staying true to his promise and not relenting.

The Commissioner for Education, Prof. Uche Eme-Uche; Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr. Kenechukwu Nwosu; and Principal Secretary to the Governor and Chief Strategy Officer, Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, joined the Governor at the meeting.

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