Nalova Lyonga killed free speech in UB
– Prof. James Abangma
The recent retirement of the erstwhile vice chancellor of the University of Buea has raised hopes as well as confusion in the university community. In this interview with The Median the president of the National Union of Teachers of Higher Education, SYNES-UB chapter, Professor Abangma James Arrey, says the outgoing VC killed the voices of lecturers and students. He was interviewed By Boris Esono in Buea
@What was your reaction to the appointment of Prof. Horace Ngomo Manga as VC and retirement of Dr. Nalova Lyonga?
|Professor Abangma James Arrey; NUTHE, Buea chapter president.|
@If you are to rate the achievements of the outgoing VC, where will you put her?
When she took over, she brought a lot of hardship to the university community such as asking taxis not to enter the campus with the fake justification that taxis entering the campus were bringing arms and other harmful instruments to school. The pretext made her to ban taxis promising to replace them with buses to carry students to their lecture halls. This particular decision of hers has provoked a lot of difficulties as students and lecturers have to trek from the main gate to their different lecture halls. Then she went ahead to kill the voices of students as well as lecturers. Because she was not good in administration she felt that the easiest way to impose her policies was to use force. Some of her forceful measures included; bringing the police to school and using the governor to terrorize people. Thus she exhibited poor governance throughout her reign.
@She had a lot of weaknesses from your view, but can you think of any area where she was really strong?
Well, she exhibited a lot of emotions on the issue of online registration and online publication of results. But I can barely access anything good from her efforts. Before her coming, it was pretty easy to browse here but now it is very challenging. I can barely give her a pass for listening to the online cry.
@What are some of the challenges lecturers have faced under the reign of Dr. Nalova Lyonga and how do you wish the new VC tackles them?
The first issue remains the refusal of taxis from entering the campus which is causing a lot of difficulties and her inability to dialogue with people. I think the new VC has to embrace those challenges and chart a new way forward. The Nalova spirit was such that you only had to fight to over things; there was no room for negotiation. And this marred her reign and accounted for the widespread celebrations that greeted her retirement.
@Did you personally rejoice when you heard she was leaving?
No! I don’t care who comes because as the president of SYNES-Buea chapter, I follow the wishes of lecturers. I accept anybody appointed. If the person comes and his posture is one of conflict, we embrace him that way. But if the person is good at governance, the person will easily learn and understand what lecturers and students want to be done for them.
@This academic year has really been challenging and most of the courses have barely reached course coverage of 50%. As a staff representative, what will you tell the new VC?
If the course coverage of any course was less than 50%, the course was not offered in the semester exams. So any course offered in the exams had more than 50% coverage.
@But Sir you have to bear with me that most of the courses were not covered and the lecturers are just covering up for them.
Yes! Because we live in a period of crisis and everything was done any way. You realize this is a period of Anglophone resistance and most of the students are also resisting coming to school.
@Talking of Anglophone resistance, you suspended the strike when your colleagues were still behind bars, why so?
Yes our colleagues are in jail but we are still negotiating with the government. Even some of our students, especially political science students are also in jail and we are negotiating for their release. We called off the strike so that we could be negotiating while on the ground. The negotiations are still ongoing and on the 12th July, we will be meeting the government officials for further negotiations. We also suspended the strike to avoid negotiating from exile. Also some of our colleagues were already going to class and so we wanted to create uniformity in our stance as lecturers.
@What is your message to students?
Students should know that everything has a time and as we are resisting, we should know at what level we should negotiate. We are making negotiations for our students, lecturers and our people and we take in cognizance the wishes of all persons involved. We wanted to minimize loses as we resisted, reason why we called off the strike. But students who are not ready to minimize loses can decide to forfeit the academic year.