Hundreds of protesters from President Goodluck Jonathan’s hometown of Otuoke in Ogbia local government area, Bayelsa State, last Thursday barricaded the entrance to the Federal University located in the town. The protesters accused the university’s administration of failing to implement the employment and admission quota reserved for indigenes of the town. They added that the university had not met other social responsibility obligations due the community. A student in lab coat at the university

Sources from the community and the university disclosed that heavily armed soldiers deployed to protect the residence of President Goodluck Jonathan were mobilized to disperse the protesters and ensure that traffic to and from the university was not impeded for long.

A community source revealed that the protesters carried placards and sang solidarity songs as they marched to the entrance of the university where they blocked the access road.

A lecturer at the university said the protests forced the institution to close down, adding that ongoing semester exams were suspended. He also alleged that some youths among the protesters threatened students and university staff who tried to film their protests at the entrance of the university.

“As a community, we are concerned about the non-compliance of the university with the community’s employment and admission quotas,” said a source in the community told our reporter earlier today.

James Samuel, another member of the community, added, “We have watched the way things are going and we are not satisfied with the conduct of the Vice Chancellor and Registrar of the institution.

“It is our view that they should be relieved of their positions to allow the university to grow.”

The university’s Vice Chancellor, Mobolaji Aluko, said that he had led principal officers of the institution to hold a long meeting with representatives of the aggrieved community in order to resolve any areas of dispute. Mr. Aluko, a PhD in chemical engineering, said that the contentious issues had been significantly resolved. He added that the disrupted exams had been rescheduled.

“The Registrar and I had a long meeting with a number of the community's representatives on their three issues of concern,” said the VC. According to him, three issues are, “Non-existence of an MOU between the University and the community. We have explained that the final draft from the side of the University was submitted to the King almost four months ago now, after extensive consultations with the community. It is now left to the community to respond.

“A list of 319 [indigenes of the] Otuoke community was submitted for immediate employment earlier this year. It came without application letters or CVs/resume.

“A demand that they all be employed was deemed impossible by the University, as applicants would have to be interviewed first consistent with due process and specific needs of the university, as well as budgetary constraints.

“Currently, the University has 1040 students and 1300 staff, a stark imbalance.

“On the Insufficient number of students admitted in the 2014/2015 exercise, the University has explained that only 269 so far out of about 550 students total to be admitted have been published.

“And more members of the Otuoke community are included in the next batch to be submitted to [the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board] JAMB for clearance.”

A source at the university said tension had existed between administrators and some members of the community who randomly submit lists of people they want hired as workers or admitted as students without due process. Our correspondent learned that such incessant demands led to the scheduling of a meeting with the traditional ruler of the town. A source said the king was unable to attend the meeting because he had just returned from Germany where he underwent brain surgery.


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