The newly appointed Provost of Abia State College of Education, Technical, Arochukwu (ASCETA), Prof. Vincent Onwe, is in trouble following his decision to pay half the salary of some staff from the full subsidy released by the state government.
Some staff received as little as 17,000 Naira as their January salary, notwithstanding the fact that Abia State Governor. Alex Otti released his full salary to Prof. Onwe to pay the staff.
Information available to this newspaper indicated that some top government functionaries have started to bombard the Provost with inquiries about why he decided to derail the policy of the administration regarding prompt payment of salaries to Abia workers since May 29, 2023.
Before Dr. Alex Otti took over as governor, the staff of ASCETA were being owed 34-month salaries, with the staff dying piecemeal as a result of starvation and a lack of funds for medical care.
But since May 2023, their salaries have been regular until last month when the new Provost who took over in October last year decided to pay them half salary even after receiving the full subvention.
Further investigation, however, revealed that the Provost was under pressure to recover some money released to the affected staff in 2019 by Tetfund to attend an International conference, which they did not.
According to an insider, the affected staff received between N1.6m and N1.3m each for the conference which they refused to attend, but rather pocketed the money.
The immediate past Provost of the College, Dr. Philips Nto, didn’t succumb to the pressure as he continued to pay staff their salaries as released by the government.
However, in a curious twist of events, the Chairman of the academic staff union of the college,Comrade Kevin Egesi, who is a kinsman of the Provost, persuaded the management to begin the deduction so as to give the impression that Dr. Philips Nto caused the problems.
Prof. Onwe, who had severally complained that he had no money to run the institution after the payment of salaries, implemented the decision, leading to an uproar in the College.
Currently, some aggrieved staff, including those who are on scholarship by Tetfund and have not been paid salaries since November last year, have petitioned Gov. Alex Otti to prevail on the Provost to restore their salaries.
According to the petitioners, Provost Onwe should be made to account for the deducted salaries of staff since he took over, including those he yanked off from the payroll.
They averred that the payment of half their salaries to them by the provost was a negation of the desire of Dr. Alex Otti to ensure that all workers and pensioners in the state received their salaries and pensions promptly.
They called on the governor to call the Provost to order before he ruins the institution through his unfriendly and reckless worker policies.
They wondered why Provost Onwe should rush to deduct the money, whereas previous Provosts did not, including similar institutions in Abia State.
When contacted, the registrar of the college, Mr. Ikechukwu Odoemenam, said he was not competent to speak on the issues raised.
Several calls and messages put across to Prof. Onwe by our reporter were not answered.