Judex Okoro, Calabar
The University of Calabar (UNICAL) stakeholders’ forum has decried the zoning arrangement for the office of the Vice-Chancellor, arguing that it is capable of destroying the institution.
The forum said those advocating the adoption of a zoning structure among the senatorial districts in the selection of Vice-Chancellor had lost touch with the modern workings of higher institutions of learning.
In a chat with our correspondent in Calabar on Tuesday, the Coordinator of UNICAL Stakeholders Forum, Agbor Samuel Agbor, said the University of Calabar should have by now grown beyond ethnic sentiments in appointments of key officers of the institution.
Agbor said it is unfortunate that while universities across the world are making research breakthroughs in the field of humanities, social sciences, science and technology, Nigerian tertiary institutions are enmeshed in the struggle of who becomes the next Vice-Chancellor, bursar, registrar and other principal officers.
He maintained that it is high time the Senate, the Governing Council, the President, and Visitor to the university, de-emphasise the issue of zoning and ethnic considerations in appointments in Nigeria’s citadel of learning, adding that it breeds mediocrity and undue favouritism.
According to him, the time has come for a change of the primordial system of appointments and revert to a new order where merit, achievement, experience, service to humanity and charisma as well as intellectual capability are top priorities in appointments of managers of university system.
Agbor stated: ‘It is disheartening to hear mundane arguments by some academics and non- academics that it is the turn of north or south or central and so on once the processes of selection of Vice-Chancellor or other principal officers kicks-off. We feel so sad that even some groups who have little or nothing to contribute in the process also beat ethnic drum just to rubbish the entire system.
‘But I think this is the auspicious time to redirect our energies in doing the right thing at least for once by selecting the chief executive of our institution based on merit and ability to deliver in the area of research, teaching and learning upon which the university was founded on.’
Also kicking against the enthronement of zoning against quality, proficiency and administrative acumen, the spokesperson of Concerned Junior Staff Group, CJSG, Mr Ibanga Ekpo, advised those aspiring to lead the university in whatever form to lay emphasis on what they can ring bring into the system and how they intend to turn around the academic community, rather than dissipating energy whipping up sentiments.
Ekpo, who works in the Faculty of Education, said that the university community is the heart of socio-economic development of any country and reducing the leadership to a particular geo-ethnic group is the highest level of clannishness.
He called on all stakeholders in the system to rise up for once in defence of quality education and service delivery by standing for merit in who becomes the next Vice-Chancellor on December 1.
So far, nine professors have indicated an interest in the plum job. They include Joseph Asor (Biological Science); Offiong Offiong (Chemistry); Ndiyo Ayara (Economics); Francis Bisong (Geography) and Florence Obi, (Education) former Commissioner for Women Affairs, and former Deputy VC Academics.
Others are Professors Stella Effah Attoe ( History and International Studies), Patrick Asuquo (Education Administration); Eyong Ubana (current Dean, Basic Medical Sciences), and Benedict Ita (Chemistry).