How Dr. Blessing Ijioma has insisted on continuing in office beyond all age requirements.
A visitor to the college situated along Orlu road, in the heart of Owerri Will first be greeted by this banner “appealing” to the college community to “support the provost to complete her tenure”
Dr. Blessing Ijioma is the Provost of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, a position she has held for almost a decade.
She was appointed provost in 2009/10 academic session and reappointed in 2014 to serve a fresh tenure of four years which ought to terminate in 2018, as her indicated in her letter to the council.
Two clear facts stare in the face of the continued stay in office of Dr. Mrs Blessing Ijioma in office and they are biological age and age of service.
Blessing Ijioma was employed at the old Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri in 1977, when the institution was state owned. Thus, by August 2017, she would have put in 40 years of service, and by that August, she would turn 65 and due, by biological age, for retirement.
Now, if followed legally, Dr. Ijioma ought to have left service in 2013, when she completed the mandatory 35 years of service and ought to retire. Again, according to the extent rules and memos available, as issued from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation, she was age barred from being reappointed in 2014 as she was already 60 years, as against the required 59 years limit.
As at today, rather than honorably stepping aside, Dr. Ijioma has resorted to all manner of unethical means and attempting to influence all authorities and maneuver her way into continuing in office till 2018.
A circular issued from the office of the head of service, dated 20th July, 2016, and signed by Mrs. Winifred Oyo-ita, the Head of Service indicates that the tenure policy that Dr. Ijioma is clinging to had been suspended but Dr. Ijioma presented a circular dated 27th July 2009, preceding her very appointment, and deceived the Governing council of the institution into allowing her to retire from service and continue to run her term as a political appointee. Unconfirmed reports say the council members were also monetarily induced to this effect.
A coalition of the four house unions in the institution (COEASU, SSUCOEN, NASU, and NAAT) had on 7th of July, 2017 issued an ultimatum to the council rejecting the “approval for the completion of tenure” given to the provost, as council is not her employer and has no power to grant such. The 21 day Ultimatum issued indicates that the unions intend embarking on strike action at its expiration.
The unions have so far issued further warnings to the council which have been ignored, the union leaders are being hounded by security agents and they are now at large. Their only crime is that they insist that the right thing should be done. The unions are due to appear before the National Assembly, in the Senate, for a hearing on the petitions of financial misappropriation levelled against the provost.