Professor Stephen Okorodudu, the acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) has pledged to restore peace in the troubled university.
Okorodudu, in his maiden press briefing, said he had set up two committees to resolve the subsisting legal issues in the more than 59 different cases in various courts involving the university and address staff and students’ grievances.
The VC said though there could be genuine reasons to continue with the cases in courts, his consultations showed that the matters could be resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
“We shall explore ADR because of its inherent benefits of being less costly in monetary terms, less time consuming and guarantees quality reprieve for disputants. Let me, however, state that while the university will be ready to engage through the deployment of ADR, the other parties to the lingering legal entanglements should be ready to have these matters resolved on a win-win principle”, he said.
Okorodudu said that he was depressed about the current perception of the university, especially among key officials of the Federal Ministry of Education and the National University Commission (NUC) but that he was inspired by the enthusiasm of the management and other internal stakeholders to resolve the present challenges in the school.
“As a Sociologist, I am aware that conflict is ubiquitous in human society. However, the basis for the life-threatening contestations in this university to the extent that after over four decades of existence, we could not even ensure a seamless transition from one substantive administration to another is not only unfortunate, but has dealt a cruel blow to the reputation of our university”, he said.
He said he reached out to all the former vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors for advice and all of them encouraged him to work hard to bring peace to the institution.
“Although this is a change of administration, it is only a change of a kind because the policies, rules and regulations and the statute that established the university have not changed. However, what I can promise is a transparent and collective style in the application of rules of engagement.
“Under my leadership, I shall rely on the committee system to guide decisions and policies. Fundamentally, I will be fair and run an inclusive administration that will leverage on and draw strength from competent and capable senior staff with vast experiences and who shall in turn mentor others.
“The directive principle of this administration that I am privileged to shall be that all policies and actions of the management of the University of Port Harcourt will be taken only when we are convinced that it is in the best interest of the university.”
Okorodudu said as an erstwhile student union activist and Secretary, UNIPORT ASUU, he would place priority on staff welfare both in terms of promotions and other entitlements adding that he would protect and promote the interests of students but is against any negative behaviour.
“I will maintain zero tolerance against negative tendencies that are deliberately intended to threaten the peace, safety of lives and properties and stability of the university.”