CVC regrets Education Minister’s unilateral appointment of VCs, urges reversal

Prof Michael Faborode

Prof Michael Faborode

By Mary Ogar

February 16, 2016.

The Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) of Nigerian Federal Universities has urged the Federal Government to quickly reverse the recent appointment of new vice chancellors for the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and 12 others, established between 2011 and 2013.

The Committee also warned that any policy initiative that could, in any way, connote the denigration of the exalted office of Vice Chancellor, would have dire consequences for the country’s education sector.

In an apparent reference to the sudden removal of the 13 Vice Chancellors via a terse statement signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu at the weekend, and their replacement with handpicked Professors, the CVC insisted that the power to appoint and remove a substantive Vice Chancellor or an acting Vice Chancellor “is vested in the Governing Councils” (of Universities).

The Committee’s Secretary General and former Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Prof. Michael Faborode, in a statement obtained by The Intellectual, said the already bad situation was further compounded by the announced appointment of a new Vice Chancellor for NOUN, “which is no stranger to the process of appointing a VC.”

According to the CVC, for nine institutions (out of the affected 13) that were established in 2011, except the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, the tenure of the Vice Chancellors was to have expired on February 15.

As far as the CVC was concerned, Faborode pointed out, “there can be no justification for their (VCs) being sacked, having laboured stridently to establish enduring foundations for the fledgling universities.” Rather, he stated, “we (CVC) congratulate them for ending their tenure on a commendable note.”

Besides, the CVC observed that while the announcement made on Friday, February 12 by the Minister had conveyed a wrong message that the new Vice Chancellors were to assume office on that date, giving the impression that the outgoing VCs were sacked, “from the information available to us, all the eight VCs had handed over to their respective Acting Vice Chancellors (appointed by their governing councils), against Monday February 15, in line with the provisions of the Universities Miscellaneous Act.”

Faborode continued: “For the three new federal universities at Birnin Kebbi, Gashua and Gusau, and the one at Oye-Ekiti, whose VC was appointed after the pioneer VC, Prof. C. Nebo was named Minister, we are surprised that new Vice Chancellors were announced to have been appointed, as this does not conform to the extant practice in the university system.”

Reiterating that Vice Chancellors “have inviolable tenure of five years, the CVC scribe said: “We plead that these Vice Chancellors should be allowed to complete their tenure, or proper statutory and transparent procedures be adopted, if they are accused of any wrongdoings.”

Faborode added: “We are now aware that the Councils of the 12 federal universities were dissolved unceremoniously a day earlier, and the appointment of new ones announced. We have said before that though, a 4-year tenure was prescribed for Governing Councils, the reality of change of government may necessitate a re-constitution of such Councils, if the government feels compelled to do so.

“In our candid and unbiased opinion, the Minister should have allowed the new Councils to be properly constituted and sworn-in, and then take the statutory responsibility of setting the machinery in motion to appoint the substantive VCs for the universities.

“The now dissolved Councils of the eight universities had actually initiated the process of appointing their Vice-Chancellors. And one, Federal University, Dutse had even concluded the process and had appointed a Vice-Chancellor-designate before the directive from the Ministry of Education to put the process on hold in the remaining seven Universities.

“So, the system is not oblivious of the right procedure to follow on this matter. Why then are we incurring unnecessary complications for the universities?”

The CVC also wondered why the Vice Chancellor designate at Federal University Dutse was re-assigned to another university in the random process. If he was found appoint able, the CVC reasoned, “why not in the same university where the Governing Council had (already) appointed him?”

Faborode said the “subtle usurpation” of the statutory function of Governing Councils by the Minister of Education in appointing the VCs “does not augur well for the integrity and good health of the Nigerian University System.”

He said while it was true that President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed concern about the poor ranking of Nigerian universities, “incidentally, good governance is one of the crucial ingredients of attaining world-class university status.”

His words: “When the 12 universities were established and Governing Councils were yet to be constituted, the (federal) government abridged the process for the appointment of VCs and randomly picked the set of outgoing/out-gone VCs.

“The same procedure was employed again when the ‘upgraded’ Colleges of Education were pronounced as Universities. We heaved a sigh of relief when that aberration was reversed.

“It is thus inconceivable that such an aberration will be condoned and adopted under the current dispensation. The enshrined competitive process for the appointment of VCs has immeasurable benefits, as opposed to ‘random selection’ of otherwise unwilling individuals, who are not aligned with the vision of a university.”

Describing the Minister’s steps as a minus for the system, the CVC pleaded for a reversal “in the interest of the good intention of Mr. President.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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