N60m debt crisis rocks Tansian varsity

…its my N60m or nothing – Ezeonwuka, major financier
…we’re handicapped – VC
By Nwabueze Okonkwo


The dispute over the ownership of Tansian University, a gigantic private owned christian university with two campuses at Oba and Umunya in Anambra State may consume  the institution named after the blessed Michael Iwene Tansi, if adequate steps are not taken to handle the situation.

The crisis which started shortly after the approval, licensing and certification of the university in 2007 by the federal government, through the National Universities Commission,  NUC, is currently trying to grind the institution to a halt, unless funds are sourced urgently to settle the accumulated debts it is owing, particularly the N60 million being owed to Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, a major financier of the university.

At the centre of it are two major stakeholders of the institution, its former Pro Chancellor, late Msgr Prof John Bosco Akam,  a Catholic Priest, now late and Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, financier and donor of the land and structures which served and still serving as a take off campus of the institution at Oba.

Already, the tongues of both the students, academic and non academic staff of the institution are wagging as their fate are hanging in the balance in case NUC hammer befalls the university and consumed it if the authorities failed to settle the N60 million debt owed to Ezeonwuka which he claimed to be an accumulation of his yearly honorarium.

Specifically, Ezeonwuka is demanding the total sum of N60 million as an accumulated arrears of his honorarium for a number of years at N10 million per annum, according to a consent court judgement,  failing which he would intensity his pressure to recover the debt.

An Ogidi High court presided over by Justice Onochie Anyachebelu, now the incumbent Chief Judge of Anambra state had in 2008, delivered a consent judgment that Ezeonwuka is entitled to receive from the university authorities an annual honorarium of N10 million for donating his landed properties as a take off site for the university.

The consent judgement came after the N10 million annual honorarium agreement was reached between Ezeonwuka and Akam on behalf of the university authorities as an annual rent for his property which he donated  as a take off campus for the establishment of the institution.

NUC had while issuing the approval certificate to the university authorities, specifically handed it over to Ezeonwuka as a major stake holder who has 15% equity share in the university board.

But NUC advised that the annual payment due Ezeonwuka for his property should not be called annual house rent but annual honorarium because the body does not approve a university status in a rented apartment.

At the initial stage, when the NUC visited the Oba  take off campus on an inspection toue,  the late Monsignor Akam introduced Ezeonwuka as a co-owner of the university, based on his financial and structural contributions so far because the land and buildings housing the take off campus were willingly donated by Ezeonwuka when his manufacturing company, Ranent industries limited folded up.

Based on that, both Akam, Ezeonwuka and other financiers settled for partnership but so soon after NUC granted its approval, the crisis started when Akam informed Ezeonwuka that he no longer has any stake in the university because he, Akam paid a sum of N14.5 million to liquidate Ezeonwuka’s debt at Oba Micro Finance Bank where he used the property as collateral for a loan facility.

The initial crisis had sparked off shortly after the approval and certification of the institution issued by the NUC when Akam told Ezeonwuka that the N14.5 million he paid for the liquidation of Oba Micro Finance Bank loan owed by Ezeonwuka was enough to buy off the landed property donated by Ezeonwuka for the take off campus of the institution and that as such Ezeonwuka should wash his hands off the university as a co owner but Ezeonwuka insisted that the amount was not enough to buy off such a large expance of land with all the structures therein, claiming that the land and the structures were valued at N2 bi llion and not N14.5 million only.

It was on this basis that both parties settled for the N10 million annual honorarium, while Ezeonwuka would drop his co ownership claim and this agreement was reached as a consent judgement in Ogidi high court of justice in Idemili Judicial division in that 2008 and they started paying him the annual honorarium for some years. 

This current crisis that is about to  consume the university, if care is not taken is the inability to pay him the agreed annual honorarium for an upward of six years now which has now accumulated to the tune of N60 million.

To worsen the matter, the debt started piling up even before the demise of Monsignor Akam about two to three years ago.

At the moment, the university authorities are now claiming that in the first place they were not aware of the honorarium agreement reached between Akam and Ezeonwuka and secondly the university does not have the fund to pay such accumulated debts.

Meantime, Ezeonwuka has vowed to execute a court judgement which authorized him in 2019 to levy an execution and take possession of his property which might possibly lead to the closure of the university.

Justice Arinze Akabua also of Ogidi high court had in 2019 granted a leave to Ezeonwuka to levy execution on movable and immovable properties of the university for purposes of recovering his outstanding indebtedness which stood at N18 million as at April, 2018.

But Ezeonwuka stated that out of sympathy for the staff and students of the institution, he did not want to levy the execution since that 2019 but now that the university authorities are heartless, he would soon levy the execution and damn the consequences.

He said after the judgment, he took into consideration the plight of the students who pay through their nose to acquire education, while the lecturers and non academic staff of the institution would be thrown out of job, now that the federal government owned universities in the country are in jeopardy as a result of industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff  Union of Universities, ASUU.



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