Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Concerned professors of the University of Jos have decried the manner the House of Representatives Committee on Federal Character has interrogated and threatened the university management with prosecution over alleged imbalances in the distribution of staff, stating that the committee clearly lacks the powers to issue such threat.
Briefing journalists in Jos at the weekend, the members, led by Professor Noel Wannang, said though they are not against the lawmakers carrying out their oversight functions, they must do so with decorum.
The professors said they were in possession of a video trending in the social media on the interactive session between the committee and management of the university. “In the said video, the committee alleged imbalances in the distribution of staff of the university to the advantage of the North Central Zone and of Plateau State in particular.
“Having diligently watched the video clip, we observed that the committee, from its opening remarks, had already presumed the university guilty of violating the federal character principles. Specifically, they referred to the university as the ‘Federal University of Plateau State’- an act that exposes a premeditated intention.
“While the said encounter was meant to be an interaction, we however, noted that it was rather an interrogation of the university management, who were badgered with questions but not given the chance to adequately respond, thus denying them fair hearing. Specifically, we noted that while the university management was willing to provide documentary evidence in support of their case, they were denied the opportunity.
“We noted, and sadly too, that the committee of supposedly honourable law makers descended to the level of issuing threats of prosecution on the university management; a mandate they clearly lack.”
He stated that the governing council is the appropriate organ responsible for appointments, employment and promotion of staff. Such appointments with regards to principal officers of the university, are usually well advertised and candidates given equal opportunities by the council. The council executes these functions on behalf of the visitor, who is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Wannang stressed that though the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Sebastian Maimako is from Plateau State, his deputies, Prof. Ishaya Tanko DVC (Academic) and Prof. Greg Ejikeme (Administration) are from Kebbi and Abia States respectively, adding that the current Bursar, Mr. Philip Umbugala hails from Nassarawa State.
“It is worthy to note that since inception of the university- forty five years ago, only six Plateau State indigenes have been appointed vice- chancellors and out of 24 deputy vice-chancellors, none had ever been from Plateau State. Similarly, in the forty five year history of the university, no Plateau indigene has ever been appointed librarian; and only two were appointed bursars.
“While we are not against the House Committee carrying out its oversight functions, singling out the university in the manner they did, suggests a premeditated intention, this we reject in its entirety. For such an exercise to be valid and objective, it should cut across all federal universities in Nigeria.
“Indeed we are aware that the Federal University, Dutsinma in Katsina State (coincidentally, where the Chairman of the House Committee on Federal Character comes from), has the vice-chancellor, registrar and librarian all from Katsina State. Similarly, in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, (incidentally, where Honourable Samaila Suleiman comes from), the vice- chancellor who has just gone on terminal leave, the DVC admin, the bursar and the librarian are all from Kano State. In the Federal University of Technology, Akure Ondo State (where the deputy chairman of the committee comes from), all principal officers are from the South-west zone of the country.
These three classic examples typify what is obtainable in most federal universities across the country, unlike the balanced appointments practiced in the University of Jos. We therefore wonder why the committee overlooked these obvious infractions in their backyards and singled out the University of Jos for national ridicule.
“We urge the committee in the interest of justice to retrace its steps and investigate all federal universities and make its findings public.”