With the election of Professor Zana Akpagu, as the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, and with the termination of the Professor Epoke administration as the 9th Vice Chancellor of the institution on the 30th of November 2015, it is pertinent to have a second look at the administration of the exiting ebullient Vice Chancellor.
Professor Epoke has recorded much achievement as the Vice Chancellor of the University in the area of academic excellence, as evident in the recent graduation of ten (10) first class students in the last convocation of the University, a feat which has not been recorded in the institution before his tenure.
Epoke has also tried in putting things in place to ensure that some of the programs in the University that had partial or half accreditation were granted full accreditation by the NUC and other regulatory bodies.
He has also succeeded in digitalizing many units of the University system, especially the account unit, thus terminating several avenues for looting by groups and individuals from the University funds.
The regular mobilization and issuance of certificates to graduates of the institution before NYSC is also a major achievement by the Professor Epoke administration.
Epoke has done a little on infrastructure, but not as much as the Professor Bassey Asuquo’s administration, but kudos must be given to him for the construction of the CES building, the building which has given the CES students a sense of belonging.
Despite all these tremendous achievements by the Epoke administration, one will not forget in a haste the August, 2011 incident in the institution, which sent the University home for more than six months, the incident which came at the inception of the administration.
One cannot also forget in haste the recent incident of alleged rape in the Faculty of Law, the incident which has dented the image of the University among the public and outside the country, and other various sexual assault cases recorded in the University.
It was in Epoke’s administration that acceptance fee was introduce for the first year students initially, and subsequently, the pre-degree students inclusive, making UNICAL, the only University in Nigeria collecting acceptance fee from Pre-degree students who are not sure of admission.
This singular act of the administration has derived uncountable condemnations from far and wide, but little or no attention has been paid by the management.
Shortly after the riot of 2011, the Epoke administration introduced what was tagged ‘Development Fee.’ The fee according to the administration then was to be used and replace all the damaged properties during the riot, but surprisingly, the fee has been re-occurring in the fee schedule of students all these years, but yet the administration has little or nothing to show for it.
Before assumption of office by Professor Epoke, UNICAL had two football pitches (The Abraham Ordia Stadium, and the Hogan Bassey Pavilion). Suddenly the administration came up with the idea of converting the Hogan Bassey pavilion to a car park, thereby leaving UNICAL with just one pitch.
The other side of the story is that the car park project has long been abandoned by the administration and the administration is coming to an end.
Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was said to have invited Professor James Epoke for interaction and interrogation.
Though the report of the interaction and interrogation is yet to be made public by the Commission, Epoke has become the first UNICAL Vice Chancellor to be invited by the EFCC.
Though the invitation has been alleged to be linked to financial embezzlement and misappropriation of funds by the administration, only the report by the Commission will really tell the reasons for the invitation.
Though I am not trying to judge anybody, but there is need to have a second look at the Professor Epoke administration as it draws the curtain.
Ekemini Raymond is a CrossRiverWatch reporter and Alumni of UNICAL
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