Moved by the refusal of the management of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Francis Eze, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU) recently brokered by the Federal Government between the host communities and the institution as regards the Ochie-Ara(new town) land space which the university is currently holding on to,
scores of the youths of the host communities have staged a peaceful protest with the aim of drawing the attention of both the State and Federal Governments and the general public to their plight and marginalization by the university.
The protest which took place on Friday, May 7, weekend at the FUTO Senate building complex had the angry hosts of the university complaining bitterly of having little or no benefit from being hosts to the university.
Some of the placards displayed by the protesters as a way of sending their message across to the university’s management had the following written on them: FUTO should sign the MOU to perfect the excision of our land; Prof. Francis Eze’s evil gang-up against our Attorney, Chief Sam Anokam will not work; Prof. Francis Eze’s tenure is the worst ever; Prof. Francis Eze don’t profit with our land- leave it alone; compensation was not paid for our land for 38 years and FUTO cannot have it again; the Attorney of the host communities is Chief Sam Anokam and nobody else.
Speaking to newsmen who were on ground in the university, a spokesman of the protesters, Comrade Clarkson Ekeopara disclosed that they had decided to protest to inform the world of the highhandedness of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Francis Eze who they accused of making all moves to sideline the host communities and make them irrelevant in the university’s affairs.
Ekeopara accused the management of FUTO of taking from them the only inheritance their forefathers had left for them, adding that the university had consistently denied the host communities employment opportunities at the senior management level such as lecturing positions and others.
He called on the federal and state governments to intervene on the issue of the memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and compel the university to sign their own part to avoid problems with the host communities that have already signed their own part of the agreement.
The Federal University of Technology was further accused of attracting almost nothing to the host communities as they don’t have electricity, roads and other critical infrastructure that make life better.
Ekeopara also accused the university management of monopolizing the resources of their Otamiri river of which their activities led to the collapse of the link bridge between Ihiagwa and Obinze.
The spokesman concluded by urging the management of the university to leave the Ochie-Ara land space as contained in the MOU with the host communities which is backed by the federal government.