Prof. Andrew Efemini of the Department of Philosophy, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) has called on concerned authorities to intervene on his alleged victimisation by management of the institution.
Efemini told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt on Wednesday that he had contemplated committing suicide on account of his “unlawful” suspension by the university.
The university don said that he was given three months statutory suspension and that his suspension had lingered for five months without pay.
“I want Nigerians to know that I am now a destitute, and suffering from health challenges caused by my unlawful suspension from UNIPORT that has now lingered for five months.
“I have informed the university in writing that as a diabetic and hypertensive patient that my life is threatened by cut of my salary over my alleged incitement of students.
“My health condition has further deteriorated as I cannot afford to buy drugs to attend to my health. I now live at the mercy of friends and well-wishers.
“I have contemplated suicide severally with a suicide message for the Nigerian people on how a Professor or anybody at that should not be treated,” he said.
Efemini said he was being persecuted for his stance against management of UNIPORT for their alleged anti-student policies.
He said that management accused him of inciting students to protest hike of non-statutory charges leading to his arrest and detention by the police.
The outspoken lecturer said that he did not sponsor students to embark on protest, but had only urged management to dialogue with the students.
“The issue is that we needed the university to dialogue and find a compromise with students rather than sweeping the matter under the carpet.
“I have written letters and have been appealing to them for five months now to recall me; as I no longer have money to attend to my deteriorating health,” he said.
Efemini said he needed at least N50, 000 monthly to buy insulin alone and that this excludes cost to run his family, urging Nigerians to come to his aid.
Reacting, Dr Williams Wodi, UNIPORT’s Deputy Register, Information, said the university had been shut due to ongoing national strike by both teaching and non-teaching staff.
He said that there were currently no administrative and secretarial structure in place to address Efemini’s case and other cases in the university.
“I agree with him completely that suspension by statutory definition would last for three months but what has happened is that non- teaching staff withdrew their services.
“So, we are not able to hold statutory university meetings, including Senate meetings; inaugural lectures and convocation while matriculation has been cancelled.
“Prof. Efemini is not the only person suspended. There are two other professors in that category. So, he couldn’t claim that he was victimised because the university is under lock and key,” he said.
Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologist (NAAT) embarked on strike in December.
UNIPORT management had in 2015, adopted a policy which made tuition fee a prerequisite for student’s participation in examination, a policy which compelled defaulting students to repeat a whole academic session.
The students later went on a violent protest demanding the withdrawal of the policy, which they argued, was unfair to poor students.