Otuoke community shuts down Federal University over employment, admission

The members of the Otuoke community in Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa, on Thursday took to the streets and barricaded the entrance to the Federal University in the area.

The community was protesting the university’s non-implementation of the employment and admission quota due to it.

Otuoke is the home town of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The protesters, carrying placards and singing solidarity songs, marched to the entrance of the university and blocked the access road to it, forcing the school authorities to suspend the on-going end of semester examinations.

The university was subsequently shut down.

“We have watched the way things are going and we are not satisfied with the conduct of the Vice Chancellor and Registrar of the institution. It is our view that they should be relieved of their positions to allow the university to grow,” a member of the community, James Samuel said.

Reacting to the development, Mobolaji Aluko, the Vice Chancellor of the university said that he and the Registrar of the institution had engaged the aggrieved community representatives in a dialogue.

Mr. Aluko said that the contentious issues had been significantly resolved while the disrupted examinations would continue on Friday.

“The Registrar and I had a long meeting with a number of the community’s representatives on their three issues of concern. (Firstly,) the non-existence of an MOU between the community and the University; we have explained that the final draft from the side of the University was submitted to the King almost four months ago now, after extensive consultations with the Community. It is now left to the Community to respond.

“A list of 319 Otuoke community members was submitted for immediate employment earlier this year. It came without application letters or CVs/resume. A demand that they all be employed was deemed impossible by the University, as applicants would have to be interviewed first – consistent with due process and specific needs of the university, as well as budgetary constraints. Currently, the University has 1,040 students and 1,300 staffs, a stark imbalance.

“On the insufficient number of students admitted in the 2014/2015 exercise, the University has explained that only 269 so far out of about 550 students total who are to be admitted, have been published. And more members of the Otuoke community are included in the next batch to be submitted to JAMB for clearance,” Mr. Aluko said.

Meanwhile, operatives of the Joint Task Force, JTF, dispersed the protesters to restore normalcy and allow free flow of traffic in and out of the community.

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