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Monday, 04 March 2024 12:36

[OPINION] Policing institutional meritocracy and justice in Enugu State - Jude Eze

In today's political landscape, it is a rarity to find a leader who upholds the principles of meritocracy, justice, and fairness in the governance of a state. However, in Enugu State, Governor Peter Mbah has (so far) demonstrated an uncommon affinity for these ideals in his approach to appointments and his handling of administrative issues. His emphasis on selecting commissioners and cabinet members based on merit rather than political connections or considerations has set a new standard for governance in the state. Additionally, his objective handling of the recent complaints brought by the management of Enugu State College of Education Technical (ESCET) showcases his commitment to upholding justice, even if it means making difficult decisions.
 
The Governor's inclination to meritocracy is exemplified in his approach to appointments. Unlike many political leaders who succumb to pressures from politicians and stakeholders, he has shown a refreshing disregard for such sentiments. A glaring proof of this point is his selection of Hon. Aka Eze Aka as the Commissioner for Information and Communication. It resonates his dedication to merit-based appointments.
 
Hon. Aka's appointment, along with other commissioners and cabinet members, was strictly based on merit. Gov. Mbah recognized his exemplary track record, expertise, and commitment to public service. This approach has resulted in a diverse and competent team of individuals who are genuinely passionate about driving positive change in Enugu State.
 
Mbah's adherence to meritocracy not only boosts the efficiency and effectiveness of his administration but also inspires faith and trust in the government's ability to deliver results. By focusing on selecting capable individuals rather than playing politics, he has sent a powerful message to the people of Enugu State that their welfare and progress matter above all else.
 
Interestingly enough, this extends beyond the realm of appointments. In a recent incident involving ESCET, the Governor displayed firm objectivity in dealing with the matter. Instead of yielding to external pressures or personal biases, he allowed an Investigative Committee to thoroughly examine the issue and make recommendations, assuring a fair and unbiased approach.
 
His fearless approach in easing off those found guilty showcases his commitment to justice without fear or favoritism. This action underscores his belief that everyone, regardless of their position or affiliations, must be held accountable for their actions. In a time when corruption and impunity are persistent challenges, Mbah's handling of the ESCET issue sends a strong message that those involved in wrongdoing will face consequences, regardless of their status.
 
For those who are not aware of the situation which Gov. Mbah quelled in the institution, a little explanation will suffice.
 
Recall that in recent times, the Enugu State College of Education Technical has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. This unfortunate situation has been due to the unjust and malicious attacks on the Provost of the school, Dr. Stella Ekwueme, and it is high time to set the record straight.
 
The Provost has been a beacon of hope and progress for the school since her appointment. Her commitment to excellence and her love for the advancement of the institution have been nothing short of remarkable. Under her leadership, ESCET has witnessed unprecedented growth and development, with improvements in infrastructure, academic programs, and overall staff and student welfare. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed, and she has gained the respect and admiration of the entire ESCET community.
 
However, amidst all the progress and achievements, Dr. Ekwueme has been the target of a malicious and relentless smear campaign allegedly orchestrated by the erstwhile Registrar of the school. The immediate past Registrar, who was rightfully sacked for his untoward actions in office, and also for maligning the Provost, has refused to accept the consequences of his actions and has since been on a vindictive mission to tarnish her good name and reputation.
 
The unjust attacks have taken a toll on her personally and have also caused unnecessary distraction and disruption within the school. It is clear that the former Registrar's sole objective is to discredit her and undermine the progress made under her leadership. His actions have not only been detrimental to the reputation of ESCET but have also posed a threat to the stability of the institution.
 
It is important to note that the decision to sack the Registrar was not made lightly. An independent panel of enquiry was set up to investigate the allegations against him, and after a thorough and impartial assessment of the evidence, it was determined that he had indeed engaged in misconduct and breach of trust. The panel's recommendation for his dismissal was an indisputable pointer to the gravity of his actions and a necessary step to redress and uphold the integrity of ESCET.
 
Since his dismissal, the Registrar has continued to wage a malicious campaign against the Provost, fabricating false allegations and spreading baseless rumors in an attempt to taint her reputation. It is clear that his actions are driven by personal vendetta and a refusal to accept responsibility for his own wrongdoings.
 
In the face of such attacks, the ESCET community has stood firmly in solidarity with the Provost and rejects his malicious smear campaign.
 
It is also important for the Enugu State government and relevant authorities to take a stand against the malicious actions of the dismissed Registrar and to ensure that the Provost is protected from further unjust attacks. It is crucial that the integrity and reputation of ESCET are preserved and that those who seek to undermine the progress of the institution are held accountable for their actions.
 
In another interesting development, two weeks ago, it came to light that the College has taken the bold step of terminating the services of at least 95 staff members due to alleged irregularities in their recruitment process. This development has understandably caused tension and unrest among the affected employees. While it is indeed disheartening to witness job loss, it is important to acknowledge that Gov. Mbah's commitment to maintaining transparency, fairness, and accountability within institutions of the State should never be compromised. It is our duty as responsible citizens to support efforts aimed at upholding these values, even when they result in difficult consequences.
 
Government bodies must adhere to strict employment protocols and ensure that recruitment processes remain fair and unbiased. In light of this, it is crucial to address the criticism levied against the State government for the dismissal of these staff members. It is unjust and short-sighted to undermine their actions solely due to the prevailing economic hardships experienced countrywide. Mbah's government don't seem to operate on emotions; it inclines more on principles that are paramount to upholding the rule of law and maintaining credibility.
 
The irregular recruitment leading to the termination of the 95 ESCET staff members is a clear violation of established employment regulations. In adhering to these protocols, the current government in Enugu shows its determination to maintaining standards and fostering a system that prioritizes meritocracy and equal opportunity. By holding institutions accountable for their actions, it ensures that the trust placed in them by the public is not compromised.
 
Undoubtedly, the economic situation in the country is dire, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the lives of citizens. However, it is vital to remember that the responsibility of the government extends beyond merely appeasing the public sentiment. Mbah at his inauguration was placed under oath of office and tasked with protecting the integrity of institutions, ensuring that they operate within legal boundaries, and upholding the principles of fairness and justice. And it doesn't look like he will betray it.
 
May daylight spare us!
 
✍️ Jude Eze.
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