How it all Started of the Mass Sacking of Solomon Islands National University Staff

 Below is an account of the mass sacking of staff at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) Staff as reported by the Solomon Star. 

FOR many, the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) or any university for that matter is a place of higher learning. And it is.

Kukum campus of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU)
Kukum campus of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU). Photo by the Island Sun 

SINU, our national pride is barely eight years old. The problem it has amassed over that period of time is mind-boggling and overwhelming at least for staff who have dedicated their life in helping to build the institution since its inception in 2013.

The problem with SINU began when its first Vice Chancellor, Solomon Islands’ Glyn Galo was forced to resign. A special investigation undertaken by Solomon Star has uncovered who was behind Dr. Galo’s forced resignation and why.

Staff familiar with this matter confided in Solomon Star that despite popular belief that Dr. Galo’s resignation was caused by students, it was not. As a matter of fact, students were allegedly paid to stage a demonstration which eventually forced Dr. Galo to resign as Vice Chancellor.

The issue, according to insiders, was to do with a payment for repair work on SINU’s shock hole (toilet). The work was undertaken by a plumbing firm. But instead of making a cheque payment directly to the company, someone issued a cash cheque for $298, 000 for the job.

When someone fronted up at the ANZ Bank to cash the cheque, a bank staff called Dr. Galo by phone to verify his authority, according to one account. Dr. Galo immediately stopped the encashment of the cheque and ordered it to be returned to the Vice Chancellor’s Office. It was.

The Vice Chancellor’s decision to recall the cheque angered those who organised the payment in cash. It was the final nail on the coffin for Dr. Galo’s position as Vice Chancellor.

According to those in the know, the angry members of what they described as a cartel operating at SINU began ‘rent-a-student’ campaign to get rid of Dr. Galo. They succeeded and Dr. Galo stood down.

That episode seems to end the first chapter of SINU’s growing up and the beginning of another chapter. It triggered as it were the necessity for the recruitment of a new Vice Chancellor.

It Is the beginning of what the main cause of financial and administrative problem SINU is faced with today.

The root cause of all the problems at SINU stemmed from the recruitment of a Ganesh Chand – a Fiji national of Indian descent – who held a similar position at the Fiji National University (FNU).

According to documents sighted by Solomon Star, Dr. Chand did not even make it to the shortlist of candidates for the VC’s job. He was thrown out because of a pending High Court case in Fiji.

Contrary to popular belief that the Chair of SINU’s University Council, that Culwick Togamana, hand-picked Dr. Chand for the job, he was not, the documents show.

Instead, it was Shadrack Fanega – the newcomer to SINU and now the Pro Vice Chancellor Corporate, that did the honor in nominating Ganesh Chand for the job with a basic taxable salary of $697, 000-a-year.

When Ganesh Chand took up his appointment on 4th March 2019, he moved into a house reportedly owned by Mr. Fanega. The house was rented by SINU at $20, 000 a month.

Whether the rental arrangement is linked to Mr. Fanega’s appointment as Pro Vice Chancellor (Corporate) is not clear. Some staff believe the arrangement is a clear case of conflict of interest.

But it is not the first for Dr Ganesh Chan.

It is understood that when the Chair of the Council and Minister of Health and Medical Services Dr Togamana was a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific, Laucala Campus in Suva, he was reportedly renting a house owned by Dr. Ganesh Chand.

By ALFRED SASAKO / Solomon Star

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