Opinion: CRUTECH VC, Prof. Anthony Owan-Enoh has failed his students ‎

by Simon Utsu

Without beating around the bush, I’ll like to state in categorical terms that I’m highly disappointed in the Vice Chancellor‎ of the Cross River state University of Technology. This was an institution that was started during the Donald Duke administration (from the old PolyCal), which grew in strength under successive (University) administrations but seems to have gone into an administrative relapse under Professor Anthony Owan-Enoh, one of the famous Owan-Enoh brothers. My grouse with him at the moment is borne out of the fact that he has abandoned over seven CRUTECH lecturers of Cross River origin to their fates in the United Kingdom.

What actually happened is this: These young vibrant lecturer-students were sent to the UK to study for their PhDs by the university in collaboration with the TETFUND scheme circa 2013. TETFUND usually pays upfront, the entire school fees for the duration of the program into the University’s account. They also mandate the University to immediately transfer the money in its entirety to the scholars overseas account. But what did Professor Anthony in his wisdom do? I learnt that he left the money in the school’s Nigerian account (to grow???) under the guise that scholars often absconded without completing their programs once they were paid the bulk monies at once- hence, he decided to be paying yearly (three instalments). The right thing to do if the VC was grappling with trust issues would have been to establish contact with their various foreign schools like the PTDF and NDDC do and pay the equivalent of the tuition into the school’s account. Then keep the living expense remainder in Nigeria and transfer to them annually as he so wished. Professor Anthony Owan-Enoh with all his years of exposure to the global academia can easily establish contact with any school in the UK and come to such an agreement- or even a more flexible one but he failed to do so and now that it has backfired, he has abandoned the students and wants them to bear the brunt of his incompetence.

The backfire: Due to the current ‎economic crisis, the Naira lost its value to the pound by almost half. What that implies is, the money kept by the VC in Nigeria could only cater to 2 years tuition as the Naira has lost so much value and now over seven cross Riverians are left gasping for financial breath in the UK. Anyone who has studied in the UK can relate to what I’m saying- because unlike Canada or the US where you can easily get a scholarship due to the huge endowment funds that the universities there have, the UK’s economy thrives on educational tourism. I’ve gathered authoritatively that the stranded students have been ‘threatened’ by both the University and the UK border agency to either pay up or risk forfeiture of their almost completed programs and deportation respectively. I also gathered that they reached out to Professor Anthony Owan-Enoh and he told them he couldn’t do anything. Quite outrageous, I must say! His poor handling from the onset messed those students up and now he’s telling them to sort themselves out? Where does he expect students under a no-work bond to get money to feed and cater to their daily needs, talk more of 7 million Naira each to pay up their outstanding tuitions? I expected him as an administrator, a father and grandfather to spring into action asap at a time like this and activate damage control! An active VC would have easily reached out to the state’s scholarship board and/or the University’s private sector partners of the university to assist him in regularising this shortfall but Professor Anthony Owan-Enoh has left the hapless students to their individual and collective fates. I’m so disappointed because before now, I used to be a big fan of the Owan-Enoh clan. From Ransome(pioneer Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission) to the vibrant and homely Senator John who I had an interesting phone conversation with about the state of infrastructure in Cross River few months back.

I also expect Governor Ben Ayade who is an emeritus Professor to show interest in the plight of these stranded children of the state. I learnt that about a week ago, he stopped his convoy somewhere along Marian Road, came down from his SUV with his brother Frank and acted a ‘small movie’. I was told that he pointed at a spot close to the Marian market and started telling Frank how he plans to duplicate a wonder-bridge he recently saw in Singapore around that spot even as he gesticulated dramatically- to which Frank nodded frantically in unison or so I heard. Your Excellency, by virtue of your position, you’re our father in the state. I can authoritatively tell you on behalf of your over 2 million children that we don’t need that Singaporean bridge in Calabar- at least not now as they’re more pressing needs- investing in human capital being one of them and that’s why I’m imploring that you to intervene in the case of these CRUTECH students. Besides, I’m sure you know the foundation of Singaporean politics and governance was laid on sound education? If you go through the resume of their current leader, his vice and his cabinet members, you will find out that they’re very educated and exposed. Someone shared a document of their qualifications online whilst making a comparison couple of years back and I was wowed! It was made up of 1st class Harvard and Stanford graduates, Oxbridge graduates, MSc and PhD holders from Ivy league and Russell group Universities. So instead of replicating the physical infrastructure you saw there Sir, first replicate the mental infrastructure that is obtainable in Singapore by coming to the aide of the several CRUTECH students stranded abroad. That in fact is the Singaporean dream and is what made them move in leaps and bounds into first world status.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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