From Gyang Bere, Jos
There is an uneasy calm at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Plateau State, following the suspension of the selection process for the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor of the university.
Staff and students of the university came out in hundreds last week to protest the suspension of the process, which they described as strange.
The Education Report gathered that the students besieged the permanent site of the university at about 7am and barricaded all entry and exit off the university. The students equally abandoned their examination to lend solidarity to the cause of the staff members.
The Governing Council of the institution set in motion the process of selecting the new vice chancellor in December 2020. He is to succeed Professor Sabastine Maimako, the incumbent. Thirteen professors of the university indicated interest to occupy the position.
Sadly, the process could not go on as scheduled as the members of the governing council were ordered to appear before the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) for further directives.
The suspension of the exercise has since generated tension and anxiety among members of the university community, who have not only expressed their displeasure, but have sought the quick intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Secretary of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) of UNIJOS, Muplang Kangpe, decried the stalling of the exercise. He said the move was an orchestrated plan to favour a particular candidate.
He insisted that the governing council had not derailed in its responsibility to select the right candidate, hence should be allowed to conclude the process, explaining that the process started in December 2020, is due to be concluded on Friday, April 23, 2021.
Kangpe described the suspension of the process by the NUC as a usurpation of the roles of the governing council and a disregard for the University Autonomy Act, even as he added that the suspension created an unnecessary tension within the university community:
“We are not aware of any breach of the extant laws regarding the selection process neither are we aware of a petition by any candidate and groups vying for the position of the new vice chancellor.
“But to our greatest dismay, the entire process was ordered to be suspended and invitation was extended to council members to appear before the executive secretary of NUC, by Wednesday, April 21. This we strongly feel is orchestrated to truncate the laid down statutory process duly followed before the recent development.
“We, therefore, call on President Mohammadu Buhari to call the attention of the NUC executive secretary, Professor Abdulrasheed Abubakar, to desist from interfering with the activities of the governing council, who were appointed to oversee the activities of the university on behalf of the Visitor.
Also, we call on the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to direct the conclusion of the selection process to enable a smooth emergence of a new vice chancellor.”
Speaker of the Students Union Government (SUG), Nanshin Lakai, said they joined the protest in solidarity with the staff of the university: “As the largest constituency in this institution, we are here, first in solidarity with our staff and secondly, to ensure that the right thing is done. To show how serious we are about this students defied going to write their examination just to be here.”
Two weeks ago, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Jos branch, organised an interactive session with the 13 candidates vying to be vice chancellor, to ensure the emergence of a VC with requisite experience, who will connect the university with the international community, boost research and generate funding.