Open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on the appointment of the next Vice-Chancellor of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike (AE-FUNAI), Ikwo, Ebonyi State
We wish to draw your attention to the marginalization of Ebonyi indigenes who applied for the vacant position of Vice-Chancellor at AE-FUNAI being perpetrated by some of your political appointees who are bent on tarnishing your hard-earned reputation.
Your Excellency’s government was magnanimous in appointing two biological brothers into key government positions. First was the appointment of Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba as the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of AE-FUNAI in Ebonyi State. The second was the appointment of Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba as the Minister of State for Education. Both individuals are brothers from Ehime-Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State. While there is nothing wrong in appointing two brothers to serve their nation, these two appointments seem to have become a threat to the good people of Ebonyi State and indeed the entire Nigerians.
At a sensitive time in our nation’s history, the alleged involvement of the two Nwajiubas in acts unbecoming of public officeholders, including the subversion of civil service due process, the advancement of chronic nepotism, promotion of selfish personal interests, and flagrant abuse of office leaves much to be desired.
Your Excellency, you will recall that the Vice-Chancellorship position of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State was recently advertised to the general public and over 70 candidates have since applied for the job. Out of these applicants, 25 are distinguished Professors from Ebonyi State with excellent academic profiles and years of cognate experience in academia and administration. It is pertinent to stress that these professors from Ebonyi State are renowned experts in their various fields and possess the requisite experience in leadership, policymaking, management, accountability, and global networking. These qualities should have been enough for any of them to be considered for appointment as the next VC of AE-FUNAI (in fact VC of any University), but this does not appear to be the case due to the activities of the current VC and his brother.
Indeed, there are serious allegations that the VC – Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba and his brother – Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba have conspired to disqualify all the applicants from Ebonyi State in order to enthrone a puppet candidate as the next VC of AE-FUNAI who will help them to institutionalize their hold on the university and protect those they unjustly and corruptly recruited as staff of the university as well as cover numerous other infractions including misappropriation and diversion of funds. We do not believe the search for the VC is following due process. Why will the process of selecting a position of public trust be shrewd in secrecy? Why have the VC and the search committee yet to publish the list of candidates, even after missing many deadlines? While we acknowledge the delay that might have occurred due to the recent outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, we are also aware of other Federal Institutions like the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU). MOUAU started their search almost a month after AE-FUNAI. They have since concluded their search and announced in national media on December 13, 2020, the emergence of Professor Ekechukwu, who beat 29 other candidates. From all indications, it appears the VC is setting a stage that will make him remain in the position beyond the end of his tenure in February 2021 or appoint his stooge in an acting capacity. Without the candidates’ list by now not to mention the intricate interviewing and background check that should follow, it does not represent the academic best practices to conclude and announce the next VC of AE-FUNAI in less than two months, knowing too well that these two months include many holidays due Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Your Excellency, it is very unfortunate that Ebonyi people, especially the people of Ikwo Noyo (the host community) of AE-FUNAI are not just a minority in their own home, but many qualified Ebonyians have been denied appointment, even as their wards with more than appropriate JAMB scores are constantly denied admissions, while others, especially from the home state of VC are given preferential treatments in employment and admissions. What happened to the catchment zone, and the advantages enjoyed by host communities in other Federal Universities in terms of employment and admission? Why will Ebonyi people and people of Ikwo Noyo be treated differently? Why will our Youths with the appropriate educational qualifications roam the street while their peers from other states are being employed into positions that these people are also and, in some cases, more qualified to occupy? These are injustices and maltreatments that can easily be verified by a cursory look at the roster of both Academic and Non-Academic Staff of the University.
Your Excellency, the point of our letter is to kindly remind you as follows:
It is about 9 years since AE-FUNAI was established and to date, no professor of Ebonyi extraction has been appointed as the VC of the university. Ebonyi people have always been very supportive of whoever is appointed by the federal government to lead the institution.
As Ebonyi people, we believe that the AE-FUNAI just like other federal universities was established to not only create more job opportunities for Nigerians, but also improve the standard of education and increase the number of quality graduates in the country and empower the local communities that host these universities. We are beginning to feel that we have been continuously sidelined as far as both of these objectives are concerned and even in the admission of our qualified students despite playing host to the University.
We decided to write to Your Excellency to highlight some of the excesses of Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba and his brother, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba for your quick intervention before matters go out of hand.
We are also appealing to your Excellency to give special consideration to the Ebonyi people in the ongoing exercise that will lead to the appointment of the next Vice-Chancellor of AE-FUNAI. More than 35% of the current applicants for the position are from Ebonyi.
We appreciate Your Excellency’s relentless efforts and commitment in the fight against corruption, insecurity, maladministration, injustice, poverty, and poor infrastructural development in Nigeria. We pledge our unalloyed loyalty and support to your administration.
Dr. Silas Ewa and Prof. Chinedu Ekuma
Conveyers of Ikwo Indigenous Professionals in Diaspora)