BY ATIA TILARIOUS AZOHNWI
Professor James Arrey Abangma, President of the University of Buea (UB) chapter of the National Union of Teachers in Higher Education (SYNES), says they “remain committed to the institutions of the State in quest for the welfare” of their members.
Taking to Facebook on September 17, Prof. Abangma came back on some of the issues he addressed in an interview published in The Post on July 13, 2020, which interview was “unfortunately distorted and published on social media platforms by some bloggers”.
Contrary to claims that they had issued an ultimatum for the Head of State to pardon some sanctioned UB lecturers, Prof. Abangma clarifies that SYNES-UB rather appealed to President Paul Biya to pardon two of theirs sanctioned in June for alleged wrongdoing.
He said the appeal for pardon is a legal provision which was made within the period of three months as stipulated by law.
“…That action on the case of the members sanctioned is carried out by the national executive of SYNES with SYNES-UB chapter acting as facilitator; that under such context, all options are on the table; and that the legal bench of SYNES is charged with such responsibility,” Abangma clarified.
The varsity don regrets that his interview was distorted to give the impression that they are in battle with the State.
“Mimi Mefo Info that carried the same story after my interview with The Post reported a distorted version. In its report it stated that: Members of SYNES are victimized in the university; That a commission was set up to assess the action of the Head of State; that SYNES (UB chapter) has given the President of Republic a period of three months to grant the dismissed lecturers pardon to order for their reintegration; and that I granted her a telephone interview,” the professor bemoaned.
He adds that: “I never granted an interview to Mimi Mefo Info.
“Members of SYNES (UB chapter) are not victimized by the administration of the university. The Vice-Chancellor [Professor Ngomo Horace Manga] operates an open-door policy and SYNES is a strong partner in the university governance. SYNES leadership knocks on the door of the Vice-Chancellor’s office on any burning issue and we have had many occasions working with him. This does not cancel the fact that we have differences concerning the sanctions on our members;
“We cannot be appealing to the Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education to intercede for our members to be granted presidential pardon, and at the same time issuing an ultimatum to the President of the Republic.
“We pray that this distorted version of the interview on social media would not jeopardize our efforts for the request made for the Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education to intercede for us in the request for Presidential Pardon. We remain committed to the institutions of the State in quest for the welfare of our members.”
The SUN recalls that in July, the National Union of Teachers in Higher Education (SYNES) pleaded with the Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education to intercede on their behalf for the Head of State, President Paul Biya to pardon two of theirs sanctioned in June for alleged wrongdoing.
Dr. Martin Ndeh Sango and Dr. Aloysius Nyuymengka Ngalim, were last June punished for failing to participate in re-sit examinations at the end of the previous academic year.
Indeed, Decree N°2020/317 of June 22, 2020 dismissed Dr. Sango Martin Ndeh from the higher education corps. The then lecturer at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Buea was sent packing, without suspension of his pension rights, “for attempting to obstruct the smooth conduct of re-sit examinations organised in the said faculty during the 2018/2019 academic year and for repeatedly committing acts likely to impede the normal and smooth functioning of the faculty.”
Although President Biya dismissed Dr. Sango based on the minutes of a Disciplinary Board held at the University of Buea on March 25, 2020, and on the recommendation of the Minister of Higher Education, members of SYNES Buea Chapter are of the opinion that their colleagues were victimised based on their unionism. Dr. Sango had said he could not make it to campus during the resit exams of 2018/2019 owing to the insecurity that had enveloped Mile 16 Buea where he lives. He is said to have notified his hierarchy of the situation.
While Dr. Sango served as Vice President of SYNES Buea Chapter before his dismissal, Dr. Ngalim was said to be a bona fide member of the lecturers union before the sanctions fell on him.
In an interview published in The Post on July 13, 2020, Prof. James Arrey Abangma, SYNES Buea Chapter President appealed that President Biya uses his good conscience to pardon the axed lecturers.
“All options are on the table, but for now, within the period of three months, all what we seek is Presidential pardon. For now, everything is being done to seek for Presidential pardon, and we cannot seek Presidential pardon and then start making cases or flexing muscles. But when every other thing fails, all avenues will be exploited, to see into it that our members are reinstated. A case is with the National Executive Bureau of SYNES, but SYNES Buea is just a facilitator,” Prof. Abangma is quoted as saying.
He recalls that SYNES came into existence with the support of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, and they will leave no stone unturned to ensure that SYNES members are not arbitrarily relieved of their duty like Dr. Sango and Dr. Ngalim.
“We will have to stretch to the limit of elasticity to see to it that our colleagues are reinstated,” said Abangma.
Prof. Abangma told The Post that the National Executive Bureau of SYNES has put in place a judicial bench, to carry out investigations, whose findings will be authoritatively used to state the reason behind the heavy sanctions meted on members of SYNES.
Hear him: “A team of eminent law professors will have to work with Common Law lawyers to follow a Presidential pardon and we hope the Head of State, H.E. President Paul Biya, will actually consider our case, because, these colleagues have been doing everything possible for schools to continue during these difficult times. They staked their lives, and their liberties, and I don’t think they should be treated shabbily in this manner.”
The SUN remembers that on March 24, 2017, Prof. Abangma and Dr. Sango, respectively President and Vice President of SYNES-UB, announced the suspension of a lecturers’ strike in order to break the then deadlock in the Anglophone crisis.
They had taken the decision to allow government show good faith by releasing their arrested colleagues, students and implementing the various agreements reached at during the Adhoc Committee meetings of 2016 and January 2017.