-Conversation with Lecturer who Published his Resignation – Part 3-
Having seen the Part 1 and Part 2 of this story, how would authorities of Cross River State College of Education, Akamkpa, react to Comrade Anthony Bissong Attah’s letter of resignation? How would that College react to LinCornellah blog’s publication of a conversation with him?
Surely, such questions would be on the minds of our numerous readers. Well, so far, the College has neither publicly reacted to that open letter of resignation nor reacted to this blog’s publication of a conversation with Mr Attah.
This may not be unconnected with the fact that the College is currently on vacation. So far, my attempt to get the reaction of the school’s Director of Academic Planning has proved abortive as he explained that he has not been officially authorized to speak with me on the issue.
It would be recalled that Mr Attah leveled allegations of malpractice against the Director of Academic Planning. He also made allegations against the management of that college as well as executive members of the institution’s academic staff union.
I would make further attempts to get the reaction of the college through its spokesperson.
In the meantime, here is the concluding Part 3 of that conversation:
Your letter of resignation alleged that the academic staff union of that college is rascally. What proof do you have of this?
When I resigned, I dropped my resignation letter on our union’s Whatsapp page. I also exited from the Whatsapp page. But through other friends, I get details about comments there. I recall that the Deputy Chairman of that union commented on my Facebook page, reminding me that when I was given a job as a lecturer, I didn’t advertise it on the social media. He asked why I am advertising my resignation letter in the social media. He was cautioning me. I responded that if it is against the law, I am ready to face the consequence. But it is not against the law.
The union is even the most annoying part of this entire scenario. Ordinarily, one would expect the union to be the last hope of the college by coming up to challenge Management to rise up to their responsibilities. But the union is terribly corrupt. One of the things you need to know that caused me some challenges in the college is that early last year, precisely on 26th January, I formed a group called the ‘The Progressives’.
The group is the enlightened wing of the college, especially among the young academic staff. We tag ourselves as aggrieved lecturers in the college. They made me their leader and I started mentoring a lot of them. Usually, the challenge in the college is that when you raise any issue against Management, they threaten to sack you. But my resignation has now turned things against them. They now understand that the job we are doing is not the end of life. Some of us are offering services, not just for money.
When ‘The Progressives’ came up, we started challenging certain practices in the college, especially using our union officers. You can imagine that for almost four years, the current union has not rendered any statement of account. Until some months back, The Progressives wrote a letter to the union’s current chairman, asking him to resign, demanding among other things, a statement of account from the union.
That was the only time they bowed to our pressure to read a statement of account. This statement of account was given since September 2017. We had copies of the account to go and study. But till now, they have not invited us back to discuss it.
The reaction of people by mere seeing that letter from ‘The Progressives’ made them to know that any day we meet, we would pass a vote of no confidence on leaders of the union. For more than three years, they have collected more than 20 million naira of our dues. But they have not executed any project. The records are there. They couldn’t hide it. So, they had to capture it in their statement of account. But there was no breakdown. They had to simply say, ‘We used 2 million to host retired lecturers’.
How many lecturers retire in a year? When you buy a fridge of 30 something thousand naira for 2 or 3 people and you inflate as 2 million naira used for retired lecturers, what is that? The essence of the next meeting was to look into their expenditure. But they have been evading that.
In the union, whenever we have meetings, they hardly allow me to talk. This is because each time I raise my hand, it is to raise a pertinent question. Until The Progressives came up, we were all moving as cowards in an academic environment. We were total cowards. In our congresses, only about 4 or 5 Chief Lecturers would speak and the rest of us say ‘Amen’ and we move on.
So, when we woke up and started asking questions, they became uncomfortable. We demonstrated the fact that we could change things by voting one of us as a Governing Council Member in March 2017. Since then, the college has not been the same. A lot of things have happened that have kept a lot of people on their toes.
How did your formation of ‘The Progressives’ pose a challenge to you?
At a point, a lot of threats started coming in my direction. People say I am the most vocal voice, which is true. I think that among the few people that are living up to standard by God’s grace, they believe that there is just no how that you can accuse me of any unwholesome practice. I believe that I would have been sacked if I was found wanting. Sincerely, I would have been sacked.
Even if they have used students to tempt me here and there, they would not find anything. I teach and dash students money. I tell them that ‘now that I even dash you money, I wonder the heart and the guts that you would have to come and approach me with money’. I kept telling them that, ‘If you attempt to bribe me, I would fail you. You can go and tell Management why I failed you’.
I believe that more should be done in terms of enlightening the society about the rot in academic environments.
What Message do you have to like-minded Lecturers who may applaud your resignation but are still holding on to their jobs?
Even as a lecturer, I was occasionally going beyond the curriculum of my lectures. Some days, I teach them entrepreneurship. I do it pro bono. I think that our educational system should give more accommodation to entrepreneurship. As an individual, I am privileged to have more than 20 things that I can do to earn a living. I don’t celebrate the glory of certificates.
As a businessman, I believe that even a Ph.D cannot guarantee you a loan from anywhere. So, we should all embrace entrepreneurship. That can strengthen our resolve to live above the expectations of society. I can be a farmer.
This month, I am going to the farm. Let’s play down the glory of the white collar system. Like I keep telling my students, this white collar system is a colonial heritage. Until the coming of the Europeans, Africans were doing very well on their own. The Europeans stopped that entire process or reduced it and introduced their own system. That is why we are enslaved. Lecturers should go beyond their academic proficiency to embrace entrepreneurship.
One of the places that Nigerians or individuals need to go into right now, is agriculture. There is no certificate that prohibits anybody from farming. All you need is enough entrepreneurship skills and enough financial education.
How much time would Lecturers have for Lecturing if they diversity and become entrepreneurial?
Unfortunately, people are also saying that one of the jobs that gives enough time is academics. People are even asking why I resigned when I have enough time to do other things in combination with lecturing. I keep telling people that if you want to do the job thoroughly, there is really no time. But they are complementary services.
As an academic, you can go into printing. There is no academic staff that shouldn’t have something to do with printing. You can start on a lower scale. The problem we have is that we take loans because we have the leverage. But we take such loans to fund liabilities.
When you obtain a loan to buy a jeep and you are maintaining the jeep from your loan, it makes you more impoverished. People should forget about their degrees. Nobody takes this from them. But they should arm themselves with extra skills that can give them money.
For instance, I can educate people on how to earn a living outside their jobs for free. Some people have houses. You can have a small poultry, fish farm or snail farm in your house. There are so many things that you can do and have fun and funds, while doing your core job.
I believe that when academic staff get to that level, they would be able to stand their grounds. God talks about blessing us. The blessing is the work of our hands, not civil service.
When we are too involved in the civil service or totally committed to the civil service
without doing anything with our hands, God has nothing to bless.
So, people should imbibe extra activities that can put food on their table.
– Comrade Anthony Bissong Attah
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah