CSO Coalition Urges 13 VCs to Resign over Illegal Appointment

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  • NMA protests appointment of new VC for Unijos

By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

A coalition of some civil society organisations has advised the 13 vice chancellors of federal universities in the country who were appointed by the federal government last February to take the path of honour by resigning their offices.

The group explained that this measure had become imperative following President Muhammadu Buhari’s apologies to the country over the ill-advised dissolution of the governing boards of the affected universities, which preceded the sack of the former vice chancellors and the appointment of new ones.

In a statement at the weekend in Abuja and signed on behalf of the coalition by the National Convener of the Concerned Citizens for Educational Development (CCED), Comrade Solomon Adodo and the Executive Director, Friends in the Gap Advocacy Initiative (FGAI), George Oji, the group commended the principled position of Professor Auwal Yadudu who bluntly refused to accept the offer of appointment as Vice Chancellor of the University of Birnin Kebbi for not following due process.

The group also highlighted the action of Professor Andrew Haruna, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Gashua, Yobe State, (one of the 13 vice chancellors), who in apparent recognition of his illegal appointment has now applied to the University of Jos as one of the candidates for the vacant office of the vice chancellor of that university.

“We use his medium to call on all the 13 vice chancellors who were recently appointed without undergoing the spelt out procedures to honourably tender their resignation letter as Professor Andrew Haruna,  as he subjects himself to seek the pristine office of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos,” the coalition said.

It said: “The fact that Professor Haruna could subject himself to the proper screening and interview process of the University of Jos Governing Council negates the premise on which he and the other 12 appointed vice vhancellors were foisted on their respective universities in the first instance.”

The group restated the position of the law, which provides that the appointment of vice chancellors of federal universities is the sole affairs of each university without undue interference from the Visitor (President) as seen in the case of University of Jos Governing Council under the chairmanship of Chief Don Etiebet, stressing that, “the competitiveness of the process gives room for the best candidate to emerge successfully without any iota of bias or political interference.”

Recall that in his apology to the country recently over the wrongful dissolution of the governing boards of the 13 universities, President Buhari said: “We gave a blanket order which we had to rescind when we said all boards are suspended or dissolved.

“We had to go back and lick our vomit in terms of the university boards because we found out that according to their laws, they cannot choose vice chancellors unless the boards sit down, interview prospective candidates who want to be VCs.

“So, there is nothing wrong in saying sorry and going back on your decision. So, we said sorry and allow all the universities to continue with their boards.”

Unfortunately, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu is yet to give effect to the presidential directives to recall the sacked 13 vice chancellors.

In a related development, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has for the second time protested the appointment of new Vice-Chancellor for the University of Jos with criteria that allegedly tactically edged out some of its members in the university from contesting for the position of the VC.

Professor Sebastian Maimako was last Friday appointed as the ninth Vice Chancellor of the university to take over from Professor Hayward Mafuyai whose tenure expires on June 23, this year.

This was after an interview by the institution’s governing council led by Etiebet in which no fewer than 18 candidates participated.

But the NMA said it had secured a court order the previous day restraining the governing council from going ahead with the exercise but the council went ahead to announce a new vice-chancellor in contempt of the court order.

It was gathered that members of the institution’s chapter of the NMA who have been at loggerhead with the university council will today (Monday) initiate a contempt of court proceedings against the university.

There are fears that the motion, if successful, may stall the inauguration of the new VC in June.

The current controversy surrounding the appointment of the VC started in 2011 when the university advertised for the position stating that to qualify for the position, a candidate must be a professor of at least five years standing, and must possess a doctoral degree (PhD).

The advertisement had triggered apprehension among members of the NMA, who perceived it as a ploy to disenfranchise them from the race seeing that for some of them that pass through residency training are never awarded PhD but a fellowship at the end of their training. This development made the association to approach the court to contest the criteria.

The doctors had argued that the number of years spent going through residency training were enough to place them on the same level as holders of PhD degree, and as such should not be excluded from the race.

The case which was first instituted at the Federal High Court in Jos when Mafuyai was appointed in 2011 was later moved to Bauchi State after complaints by members of the NMA over lack of confidence in the presiding judge.