From Gyang Bere, Jos
In recent times, there has been disturbing trend of event at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Jos, Plateau State, with the truncation of the process leading to the selection of a new Vice Chancellor. This has generated tension within and outside the university community.
Since the process was stopped by the National Universities Commission (NUC), a month ago, no effort has been made to continue with the selection of the new VC.
Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Lazarus Maigoro, said: “The selection of a new VC generates ripples and is affecting academic activities in the university. ASUU is not part of the selection team for a new vice chancellor as it is purely a responsibility of the Governing Council, whose tenure elapsed in May and a new one is yet to be constituted by the Federal Government.
“ASUU has nothing to say until when there is a vacuum. I am confident that the right thing would be done for the institution to continue with its excellent academic and infrastructural development.”
On April 19, 2021, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), staged a peaceful protest over the suspension of the selection process. It argued that although the process started before the demise of the Chairman, Governing Council, but the University Act empowers members to elect one person among them to continue with the selection process until its tenure elapses.
Chairman, SSANU UNIJOS branch, Anthony Joro, said: “The union has no problem with anybody who stops the process. The institution currently has a Vice Chancellor, who is Prof. Sabastine Maimako.
“Until the tenure of the incumbent VC elapses, SSANU has no problem with what is happening with regards to the selection of a new VC. He expressed confidence that the institution would continue “with the developmental initiative it is known for under the current VC and until there is a vacuum, SSANU has no problem.”
Coordinator, Movement for the Advancement and Protection of the University of Jos (MAPU), Mr Daniel Sati Tanko, said: “We will not accept an imposed vice chancellor on the university. We call on the Visitor of UNIJOS, President Muhammadu Buhari, to quickly intervene in the on going drama.
“Plateau State has had its fair portion of the crisis that has bedevilled the nation. We trust that the President is a man of peace who cannot support a group that would want to upturn the process that has not been faulted by both the National Universities Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education as clearly shown in their meeting of April 21, 2021, with the university’s governing council.
“The process of the selection of the new VC was put in place in December 2020. A search panel was set up by the Governing Council headed by Usman Lamido. The process was marred with the death of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Prince Tony Momoh.”
He expressed shock that when the NUC ordered the suspension of the selection process of a new VC, the governing council met to continue with the process in line with Section 3(2)b of the University Act: “Four days to the interview proper, a new twist was introduced into the exercise when the NUC ordered the immediate suspension of interview.
“The council was invited to Abuja for a meeting with the commission and the Federal Ministry of Education. The meeting was held and its outcome never faulted the process but observed that since Dr Philomena Mutbam was not the Pro-Chancellor, she cannot chair the interview session.
“What travesty; the meeting later agreed that the Minister of Education should convey the outcome of the meeting to the Visitor, with the resolution to appeal to Buhari to cause a letter to be issued to Mutbam to complete the selection process within four days.
“As we speak now, nothing has been heard from either the minister or NUC, thereby making us to be curious and suspicious of the powers that be, that an agenda to short change the process and bring on a cohort as the VC is clearly unfolding.”