Angry protesters have disrupted academic activities at the Federal University located in Otuoke, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s hometown in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Hundreds of protesters were said to have caused a stir today when they blocked the road and barricaded the entrance to the university over alleged marginalisation of indigenes in employment into key positions in the institution.
The aggrieved persons caused traffic gridlock during the demonstration, which reportedly started at about 7:30am.
It was gathered that the action, which was led by the institution’s chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, lasted for about three hours.
The protester were armed with placards of different inscriptions such as, “Bayelsans cannot be marginalised in our own lands”, “we want fair representation, Bayelsans are qualified”, “FUO na our oil well, Gbam!”, “it is our time, Bayelsans say”.
They clapped, danced and demanded an attention from the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Accra Jaja.
The protesters said they were bothered about the recent appointment of the institution’s Chief Legal Adviser, saying it failed the due process test.
They insisted that the action of the university was a deliberate attempt to marginalise the indigenes and further under develop the people of the region.
Jaja, who addressed the protesters in the company of senior employees of the institution and security operatives appealed to the protesters to calm down.
The Chairman of SSANU, Mr. Kalizibe Joseph, said the recent appointment of a new legal adviser was not in tandem with the laid down procedure for recruitment.
He asked the management to withdraw the appointment, follow due process, by first of all advertising the vacancy on a national daily to allow interested individuals to compete for the position.
He said: “SSANU is a watchdog. The vice-chancellor had earlier said there is a shortfall in the institution allocation, which has made the institution unable to pay full salaries to workers.
“We also agreed that anything employment should be put on hold pending when the institution’s finances will improve. But we were surprised on this new appointment.
“Besides before the institution must employ, they are to first of all advertise, to give fair opportunity to all interested applicants who will also be subjected to interviews. But these processes were not followed. We are therefore calling for the immediate termination of this appointment, as it does not represent equity and fairness.
“I am also using this medium to call on the Chairman of Council, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, to stop holding council meetings in her parlour in Abuja, but rather do the right thing by holding meetings in the institution”.
Also speaking, the National Legal Adviser, IYC, Mr. Tare Porri, said IYC would continue to demand control of all resources located in Ijaw territory, saying Ijaws would never play a second fiddle in the country.
“This action was a deliberate attempt by the Chairman of the council, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki to send Ijaw people parking from the university by singlehandedly imposing her brother against due process as the institution chief legal adviser.
“All the principal positions in the school are occupied by foreigners except the office of the VC and a dean, who are Ijaw people but not indigenes. There are more than one million qualified Ijaw people that can hold that legal adviser position and a person from the north is not better off”, he said.
He reminded the VC that the 2015 Presidential elections were lost simply because former President Jonathan was an Ijaw man, adding that there was no federal institution in the country that had Ijaw people in critical positions.
Jaja promised to revisit the decision taken and pleaded with all the protesters to give him a week to properly address the issue.