Lecturers and students of Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Delta State, have accused the institution's Provost, Josephine Anene-Okakwa of nepotism, corruption, highhandedness as well as using the Department of State Services (DSS) to intimidate staff members she sees as enemies, among other allegations.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, a lecturer who spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear of victimisation by the Provost, said the institution was being run like a private estate.
According to the source, workers live in perpetual fear because they are allegedly treated like slaves by the Provost.
"The institution has not had it so bad like this since its establishment. Since the appointment of Josephine Anene-Okakwa as Provost, corruption, fraudulent practices, intimidation, nepotism, ethnic hatred, oppression, highhandedness, victimisation, and indiscriminate queries have become a daily affair in the institution. The Urhobos, Isokos, Ijaws of Delta state, and other ethnic groups suffer the most in her hands.
"The Provost is from Delta North and I am also from her senatorial district but the way and manner she runs the school and treats people, especially from other ethnic groups, is appalling. Her level of corruption is unbeatable. If lecturers from Delta North err, they are verbally warned and forgiven. But if lecturers from other ethnic groups err, panels will be set up and queries, suspensions, and undemocratic punishments will be meted out."
Speaking in the same vein, an employee of the institution who said he had suffered in the hands of the Provost in the past, chided her, saying gradually, the Provost had succeeded in pocketing the college through connivance and by giving gratifications to some persons in the college and higher authorities.
"I was a victim sometime in the past. Even one of our staff members, Ameh Joseph, suffered the same too. He got a series of threats and was even sacked after revealing corrupt activities and looting going on in the Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba. Joseph was the head of the physical planning division of the college. He was fired last May by the super Provost, Anene-Okakwa, following his petition to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
"Even now, another senior lecturer is passing through almost the same fate in the hands of the Provost. Mrs. Beatrice Orife, the former Head of Department, General Studies, in the past 28 years, has served the college meritorious and the Provost wants to dent the lecturer's good records of service to her fatherland just because she is an Isoko woman and against her draconian policies and corrupt leadership.
"Orife has been a member of the college's TETFUND committee, a member of the college sports commission, member of the staff union and member of the NCCE accreditation committee among others. In June 2019, she applied for PhD sponsorship through TETFUND to go to the USA to study Afro-America literature and to date, the application form is missing between the Provost and TETFUND desk officer in the college who is from Igbodo.
"The conspiracy to permanently subdue her through every given opportunity was made manifest when the management started suggesting that she should go to the UK to study Afro-America literature. This is also a way of frustrating her from getting PhD and never have the opportunity to progress in her academic career. This is to further subjugate her in the system.
"The Provost has outwardly and on several occasions expressed hatred and prejudice against people of different ethnic extractions, especially the Isokos, and never wanted them to be in any position of authority in the college. Mrs. Orife has risen to the position of a principal lecturer and would be chief lecturer any moment which is a position of a potential dean and provost, but the Provost in her character would never want to see Mrs. Orife, an Isoko woman in that position.
"Mrs. Orife, has received series of punishments on frivolous offences from the Provost, she was removed from the position of HOD and will not hold any position of responsibility for the period of four years and as we speak her three months salaries is been confiscated by the Provost."
Also speaking to our correspondent, a Head of Department (HOD), who spoke on condition of anonymity, called what's going on in the institution a 'reign of cabals', where some staff members are above the law and more important than others.
The source said, "Mrs. Osita Lokoyi, who is the director of education technology and the dean of education, Mrs. Diabuah Juliana, both chief lecturers in the department of general studies, conspired and committed gross academic misconduct of secretly moderating an examination question and this issue was presented to the academic board and no panel was set up. They were only given a private verbal warning.
"Another academic staff, a chief lecturer, Uche Wemebu, and one-time college desk officer of TETFUND committee embezzled eight hundred and fifty thousand naira TETFUND money. The panel set up recommended dismissal but the Provost converted it to a warning. Today the lecturer is the dean of sciences. The acting HOD of general studies, Johnson Chukwuma, was caught mutilating general studies mathematics, a course he does not teach and no disciplinary action was taken against him.
"These academic staff members are from Anioma, the same ethnic group as the provost. The provost's son, Emeka Anene, a clerical staff member in the automobile department has not been coming to work since the mother assumed office as the provost and has been receiving salaries."
A cross-section of students who for security reasons, according to them, spoke on condition of anonymity, also accused the Provost of incompetence, nepotism, and highhandedness.
A final student who simply identified herself as Nkem described what is happening in the institution as a 'mere 'boardroom politics'.
She described Mrs. Orife as one of the best English lecturer ever produced by the institution, adding that the Provost was playing ethnic politics and show of wickedness.
"Our Provost is only being jealous and intimidated by Orife's rising academic profile.
"Anene Okakwa is synonymous with corruption, nepotism, intimidation, and ethnicity hatred. Just two weeks ago, the Provost hired the services of the DSS officers and began to intimidate Mrs. Orife. She was invited to DSS headquarters Asaba, last Monday by 11:00 am and was released by 6:00 pm, Wednesday," the source said.
It was also alleged that the provost tried to intimidate and issue threats to the lecturer to drop all petitions against her or be ready to be dealt with by the DSS.
"The Provost has committed a lot of atrocities in the institution. She's the only chief executive who generates IGR from the academic staff. She collects N20, 000 each from academic staff to be trained for a period of three months in computer literacy for the purpose of promotion and using the college facility, the ICT centre. The Provost is good at taking academic staff members for a ride and bringing them down to enhance her position in the office.
"Since her assumption in office, no any Itshekiri, Isoko, Urhobo, and the Ijaw nation has been allowed to hold any position of responsibility and she has not demonstrated any administrative competency and quality to lead the college. Do you know that the Provost's accommodation is consolidated in her salary but still, she armed-twisted the institution to be paying for her accommodation in Asaba?" Another source said.
When contacted on the allegations, the Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Delta State, Josephine Anene-Okakwa, denied all the allegations levelled against her, saying apart from few individuals who are fighting her and bent on tarnishing her image, she is loved by all.
"I am a disciplinarian, and of course when I see things going wrong in my school, I must act to correct them. I have resolved so many cases between staff members and prevented some from going to court and they are happy. Just one or two individuals who want to be Provost at all costs are those causing problems in the school. One threatened and confronted me and you know how the country is security-wise so I had to take the matter to the DSS," she said.