Governors’ hijack of VCs appointment in federal universities worrisome – Adamu

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Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu addressing teachers at the 2020 vehicles won in the Presidential Teachers' & Schools’ Excellence Award on 5th October, 2020
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Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has expressed worries that some state governors have hijacked the process of appointment of Vice-Chancellors for Federal Universities.

He noted that of his lack of interest in the selection processes of new VCs for the Institutions was based on the demands of the law.

Mr Adamu alluded to this vested interest as responsible for the unimaginable crises in the selection processes of many Federal Universities across the country, saying this meddlesomeness has led to unnecessary friction and tension in the Universities.

Adamu made the revelation, on Thursday, in Abuja during the inauguration of Chairmen and Governing Councils of 19 Federal Universities and 4 inter-University Centres as well as the public presentation of the new Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State.

He has accordingly ordered the Governing Councils to take charge and exercise their rights and not to allow outside influence in the selection process of new Vice-Chancellors of their respective institutions.

In his words, “The Federal Ministry of Education under me has not in any way interfered with the selection of any Vice-Chancellor and I have not talked to any Chairman that I have any candidate.

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“Unfortunately, I found out that because of my lack of interest or because I feel I should allow you (Council) to exercise your right, it is being hijacked by the governors. It is your right, don’t sell it to them. The law stipulated that and we are giving you full independence, don’t sell it to them.

“It is, therefore, essential that you familiarise yourselves with the specific law establishing your University or
Centre as well as with other relevant laws of the Federation.

“You should, in particular, be guided by the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1993 and its various amendments (of 2003 and 2012). You should adhere strictly, for example, to Section 2AAA of the 2003 Amendment Act which stipulates that “The Governing Council of a university shall be free in the discharge of its functions and exercise of its responsibilities for the good management, growth and development of the University.”

“Section 3 (4) of the same 2003 Amendment reposes on Council the power to appoint the Vice-Chancellor of the University. I urge you to exercise this power with utmost sense of responsibility and in the best interest of your Universities,” Adamu said.

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The Minister noted that the reconstitution of the Governing Councils of the Federal Universities was coming at a propitious time, in view of the fact that the government recently constituted Visitation Panels to all Federal Universities.

He added that Panels have recently rounded off their assignments and would soon submit their Reports in two separate volumes, covering the periods: January 2011-December 2015, and January 2016 December 2020, respectively.

In accordance with the Panels’ Terms of Reference, each report would contain scrutiny of the state affairs of the University during the periods under review; its achievements and the challenges being faced; working environment (including relationships with and among staff and students); relations between Council and Management; how the University relates with its host communities, as well as with national and international bodies, among others.

He said as soon as the Visitation Reports were received, Government would study them and issue White Papers, the recommendations of which would guide Councils and Management on how to improve their systems and services by taking necessary steps to address the lapses and weaknesses identified by the Visitation Panels.

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Adamu, however, warned the Council members that the president and visitor to the Federal Universities will not hesitate to dismiss any Council found to be corrupt or incompetent.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving their appointments, saying he had to literally beg some of them like former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, and former Minister of National Planning, Senator Victor Udo Ndoma-Egba to accept the appointment.

Senator Ndoma-Egba, who spoke on behalf of Pro-Chancellors and Chairmen of Governing Councils, assured the Minister that they would approach the assignment with all sense of responsibility and not disappoint the Federal Government for the confidence reposed on them.

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