By Victor Igwe
A rumoured withdrawal of the university status recently granted Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri and others last Monday sparked off a tumultuous but peaceful protest by both staff and students of the new university.
However, reacting barely 24 hours later, the Imo State government denied any such move, accusing opponents of the federal government and those it described as “those who lost elections” of inciting the university community by spreading the blatant falsehood.
The protest which began in the campus soon spread to the major Orlu-Owerri Road on which the university is located causing traffic gridlock which cost the police much effort to control.
An official of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Students’ Union Government (SUG) president who addressed the students appealed to president Buhari not to approve the move with one placard reading; “we should not go back to Egypt”.
But each of them alluded to alleged recommendations to the president to withdraw the university status earlier accorded to the institution nor did they indicate that the other similar institutions simultaneously promoted to universities faced the same alleged fate.
The university’s, Deputy Vice Chancellor was said to be away to Abuja at the time of the protest and our reporter said the institution’s Public Relations Officer who freely mixed with journalists at the time firmly refused to speak on the matter.