The vacant position
The appointment of asubstantive Registrar for the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Orumba North LocalGovernmentArea of Anambra state, may have plunged the institution into large scale crisis, as some staff and the former Acting Registrar, Mr. Obini Onuchukwu, have been accused of presenting questionable Higher National Diploma(HND)certificates from the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) Enugu. According to Godson Okeoma, memberof theGoverning Council SelectionBoardof thePolytechnic, theprocesswasfree, fairand intandem with the laid down provisions for the screening and appointment of a substantive Registrar.
Okeoma, a building professional, however, expresseddismayover the observations and findings of the selection board in respect of a former Acting Registrar of the institution, who was also vying for the top job. According to him, “the conduct of theinterviewwastransparently done and no candidate had any advantageovertheothers. AndImust quickly add that it strictly followed the content of the advertorial for the job in terms of qualifications for the position.” Okeoma insisted that the only misgivings he and several other members of the Selection Board had was in the case of a particularcandidatewhoappeared to enjoy the patronage and protection of an influential member of the Board. “To our dismay he was allowed to be. interviewed but some others who didn’t meet upwith the qualificationsasstipulated by theadvertorial like him were turned back on grounds of such deficiencies. “To be very specific the advertorial requiredthatforonetoapplyhemust have acquired a minimum of seventeen years cognate experience in a tertiary institution and I think it was more than seventeen years.
“But a particular candidate, Mr.Obini Onuchukwu, had as at thetimeof application, onlyeleven years and at the time of interview, he was twelve years in service. “So it was clear that by that advertorial he was not qualified to be interviewed but he was given the undue preference may be because he hadacted, even though he wasn’t qualified to act. Okeoma continued: “Now, that was the case of his qualification in terms of length of service. The same person, we equally observed, paraded a certificate which clearly stated that he graduated from Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu on the 25th of July 1998. “But prior to that I had privileged information of a document he filed at Aguata High Court in a suit he instituted against me as former Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the secretary of the union, Mr. Ime Okon, and the processes he filed there on oath contained notification of result of same HND, same Mass Communication, same print option, sameIMTbutat differentdates other than what the certificate bears now. The date of the collection of this latterresultwasApril 26th1999, instead of 1998. “Not minding that the date of collection of the certificate was August 1999, thisimpliesthathecollectedthe result six months before writing the examination.”
He explained further, “So now, that was an anomaly and so from that privileged information I had, it was established that he had that certificate on two different dates spanning over two different years. “I raised the issue for his assessment. And if he said it was the certificate of HND 1999 notification of result, we would discard the other result. “At the end of the day the committeeresolvedthatwe were not doing certificate verification and instead of dismissinghimatthatpoint, hewasstillallowedhimtogoonwith the interview.” Okeoma went on, “The following day he came up with another document bearing ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and addressed to nobody but purportedly written from the same IMT this time around bearing another date, I think 17th of September 2021 or so. I can no longer remember exactly unless I refer to documents. “However, what made that particular document strange was that there were typographical errors in the earlier notification of the result. One wonders how somebody who graduated in 1999 was presented notification of results at 2017, more thanthirteenyearsorthereabout; he hasn’t collected the certificate from IMT Enugu, which is one hour drive from Awka. “So, that ‘To Whom It May Concern’ document established that there were typographical errors made in the notification of result to the effect that actually, Mr Obini Onuchukwu graduated from IMT Mass Communication, Print Option, in August 1998 instead of 1999, as erroneously carried in the previous notification of result. “It went further to state that the ‘To Whom It May Concern’ letter superseded the previous document to the effect that he graduated in August 1998 instead of 1999 and by stating that they had invalidated the July 25th 1998 date.
Plethora of documents
“In summary, the plethora of documents seem to establish that MrObiniOnuchukwuhadhisHND MassCommunication, PrintOption from IMT on three different dates spanning over two years. “So it baffles me that such a person still wants to be the Registrar of the Polytechnic; and he is telling us, using some officers of the Federal Character Commission, to come and appoint him Registrar of the Polytechnic, even when he was beaten at the interview by a more experienced officer and by a wide margin.” Okeoma recalled that the same person was equally a staff of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) but came to the Federal Polytechnic, Oko in 2010 on secondment.
“It still appears hazy how his status as a staff on secondment was transmuted to transfer of service. “If he should be a staff of the Polytechnic and yet he is throwing stones, I don’t know what he intends to achieve.” He confirmed that Onuchukwu presented some papers in respect of histransfer butnoted thathedid not present them to the panel. He posited further, “I now talk as somebody who has what he submitted to the court and they all had court stamps, as having been certified under oath. He swore under oath that he transferred his service. TheGoverningCouncilmaywishto verifythisandascertainthe circumstances of his transfer. But in his reaction Onuchukwu described the conduct and outcome of the interview as lopsided and a premeditated plot to ensure that he doesn’t get confirmed as a substan-tive Registrar of the institution. “Let me start by expressing my disappointment that a member of the screening committee would go to the media to talk about the credentials and personality of a candidate in a negative light and the implication is that before now, he never planned for that candidate to succeed. “Secondlyandunfortunately, that the person in question, Mr. Godson Okeoma was a part of that interview session, was an error. “I say so because Okeoma Godson was supposed to commence his disengagement leave that is his retirement leave on the 1st of April 2022 and a letter was written to him by the personnel to hand over everything in his custody to the next in commandbeforeproceedingonthat retirement and proceeding on other compulsorytrainingandretraining he has to embark upon to prepare him for retirement. “In other words he ought not to have been part of the panel. If the Rector being the Chief Executive neededhisservices, heshouldbethe one to invite him. But we know that no staff is indispensable and as you are retiringwe expectyouto prepare someone to stand in your place and if you do not have such a person you have failed because we expect you to mentor someone coming after you.
How long will it take
“But because of some irregularities and anomalies in the exercise, Okeoma Godson was allowed to be part of the interview without anybody questioning it. “To the issue proper, about the credentials, it is very disappointing anddisheartening thatatthemiddle of the interview when candidates have all been notified to make themselves available for the interview an impostor raised the issue of documentationmeaningthatthejobthat was supposed to be done during the screening was not done . “It is not in the powers of a member of a committee to decide whether a document is fake or real. What happenedtofairhearing? Whathappenedtothepaneldoingtheduediligence of going to investigate where the documents emanated from to verifyif indeedit is genuine orfake?
“However, responding to the question, I don’t have fake documentsandmydocumentsaregenuine and I come from a family that has a great reputation and I cannot for any reason or amount of money or for any position shun or compromise our integrity. “I secured admission into IMT Enugu and by the time I was leaving the Polytechnic in 1998 and 1999 , the session was FOR 1998/1999 academic session, I was issued a statement of result dated 1999. “We concluded our projects and finished our examination in 1998 and crossed into 1999 January or February. WeleftforNational Youth Service Corps NYSC in early 1999 and I was issued with my HND statement of result. “Immediately I finished my youth service, I secured a job with that statement of result and all of my life I have used that statement of result in everything I had always pursued . “I have secured a job and I wasn’t looking for any other job and doing some other little jobs and studies so I had no need or need to go and collect my certificate and there has not been any reason to provide my certificate until last year 2021 when we made application for the position of Registrar and that was when I went to IMT Enugu to get my certificate. “So when I went to IMT to secure my certificate; of course you have to present your statement of result and the Polytechnic said that they will not honor the statement of result. So when I got there, at the Exams and Records unit, I presented my statement of result and they looked at it and said haa! Why is it bearing 1999? and I said were you not the people that issued me the statement of result? “So they went to my file and also discoveredthesamethinginmyfile that they wrote 1999 when it was supposed to be 1998 as well as my certificate.
“Theyinvestigatedandfoundout that it was a typographical error thatinsteadof thetypisttyping 1998 he typed 1999 and however there is no other difference, the aggregate score, the course of study, the name and everything remained the same. “That is not enough to say that it is a forged document or certificate. So they retrieved that 1999 and issuedmewithanapology, thecorrect version which I had forwarded to you and it is verifiable and anybody whoisconcernedcangototheinstitution, IMT Enugu, just a few minutes drive away to find out if it is a forged result.
Secondly when I gained admission into IMT, I studied Mass Communication so I don’t have mathematics and I was offered admission and I read throughout and in 2011, I wanted to do my Masters in Information Technology at the Federal University of Technology (FUTO) Owerri and they requested me to produce my WAEC result and I did but they refused to grant me administration because I did not pass Mathematics.