The National Association of Nigerian Students on Sunday faulted the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Owerri zone over the call for the resignation of the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Professor Nnenna Oti.

The PUNCH had on Friday reported that the zonal branch of  ASUU  in a press briefing called for the immediate resignation of Oti following allegations of “corrupt practices and anti-union activities.”

Earlier, the academic union and Otti were engaged in a media war following the appointment of a former minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami as a Professor of Cybersecurity at FUTO. The national leadership of ASUU had kicked against the appointment tagging it a “fraudfersorship” and had suspended Oti from union activities.

Oti had since dragged ASUU to court following her suspension.

But NANS in a statement signed by the Vice President, Ezenagu Victor said it was appalled at ASUU’s call for Otti’s resignation following “unverified allegations of corruption.”

The statement reads, “It has become expedient, albeit with dismay, to address the unbecoming attitude of the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of University. The latest of which is the derogatory headline of the dailies wherein the Union Zonal Leaders allegedly demanded the resignation of the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Owerri for alleged corruption.

“Our attention was drawn to the headlines because the Vice Chancellor of FUTO, Prof. N.N. Oti, is a mentor to many of us. Particularly our female folks who were shocked to the marrow reading such headlines about the woman who has personified integrity, honesty, and transparency. Sequel to this, NANS has been able to carry out an investigation by interacting with both students and staff of the institution”.

Speaking further in the statement, the NANS leader noted that the preliminary investigations it conducted revealed that the actions that were taken by the ASUU leadership were political.

“Although we were not able to have any discussion with members of FUTO Management as they said part of the issue we wish to inquire about is in court. Our finding has shown that the lies spewed by those who gave that press release in the national dailies were not only unfounded but also malicious and wicked! On the contrary, testimonial evidence garnered by the NANS points to the fact that the action of the ASUU leaders is a mere political vendetta wherein these Union Leaders are acting by proxy”.

NANS posited that “the attack on her person has been so vehement basically because of her gender, emerging as the Vice Chancellor of the University, as well as her transparency during the national assignment and in the discharge of her duties as Vice-Chancellor.

“Those who lost to her during the contest for VCship, as well as those who could not use her to achieve their ungodly aims during the national assignment, have resulted in using highly corrupt Union Leaders in ASUU to grind their axe with the woman and to make the University ungovernable. Despite all of these, Oti has remained a mother with a long-suffering heart of forgiveness and has refused to join them in any public or private display of arrogance.”

Ezenagu, thus reaffirmed that “we, the National Association of Nigerian Students, wish to draw the attention of the ASUU in particular and the public in general, that those fighting the Vice Chancellor of FUTO by proxy are obviously threatening peace and tranquility in the University.

“We are already informed that the disturbance is aimed at causing industrial action at the University so as to bring her to disrepute at the expense of students learning. It should be well noted that all industrial disputes have major side effects on students who suffer untold hardship during and after such disputes.

“This includes, but not limited to waste of their precious time. Amounting to the students spending longer years in the University, as well as a waste of their resources as universities end up having them pay more school fees; particularly for the postgraduate students who pay for the number of years they spend irrespective of the strike that has never been of their making”.

The Association highlighted that “in retrospect, we wish to remind ASUU that our students are still struggling to come off the payment of their rent, losses of their source of income and opportunities that begged for their certificates, arising from the last eight months industrial disputes.

“We are aware that ASUU NEC has not been able to manage its house effectively, nor mend fences with its members at the local branch level in FUTO. Our interaction with several members of staff at FUTO confirmed our fears that the national body is using a suspended set of executives as a pawn to destabilize and disrupt the smooth running of academics, as well as the peace enjoyed in the university”.

He further stated that NANS female students in the school are already mobilizing their colleagues in other universities all over Nigeria for a mother of all protest against the intimidation of the female Vice-Chancellor just because of her gender.

“This is because up till now, not one person has been able to provide evidence whatsoever to buttress the assertion of corruption against Oti. On the contrary, she has proven to be an incorruptible woman in all ramifications.”