As the race for the Vice Chancellorship position of the University of Calabar kick starts by the release of the guidelines, it is of paramVicebjv importance that records are set straight especially in regards to the much touted zoning of the position as being orchestrated by a section of misled and brainwashed Section of the University Community.
The prestigious University of Calabar has come a long way since 1976; producing Vice Chancellors with excellent track record which include capacity, knowledge and managerial skills to run a public University among many other attributes.
It would be very insensitive for any group or section of people to lay claim for the exalted position of the VC in a turn-by-turn basis.
Currently, the position of the VC has been declared vacant by the Governing Council of the University and all qualified candidates have thrown by in their interest for the office and the advert for the position just like the previous ones never stated in anyway that it was the turn of any senatorial district to produce the VC.
In a University that thrives for excellence with a mandate to build future generation and have breakthrough in academic research and discoveries, merit, capacity and the ability to run a public institution should be given utmost consideration above ethnicity and regionalism.
It should be noted by the apostles of zoning that any qualified Professor from or outside Nigeria can suprident over the affairs of a university. Of course, they are Nigerian Vice Chancellors in universities in other countries. Be it known that any Nigerian can be a VC in any University. It is on record that a Cross Riverian left as the VC of a Federal University few years ago.
A critical look at the historical analysis of the VC position held since the creation of the University clearly has it that Cross River South has held the plumb job for 17 good years.
If there was zoning why was one Senotorial district having Vice- Chancellors back to back. The analysis below shows that there has been no zoning in the appointment of VCs in Unical.
*Prof E A Ayandele.. 1976-1981
*Prof A N Mohammed.. 1981-1985
*Prof I B Mohammed.. 1986- 1988
*Prof Charles Effiong.. 1988-1992
*Prof Solomon Unoh.. 1992-1995
*Prof Kevin Etta.. 1996-1999
*Prof Ivara Esu.. 2000-2005
*Prof Bassey Asuquo.. 2005-2010
*Prof James Epoke,, 2010-2015
*Prof Zana Akpagu .. 2015-2020.
HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF THE VCSHIP POSITION:
*North: 5years (Prof Zana Akpagu)
*Central: 8yrs years (Prof Kevin Etta=3, Prof Epoke=5yrs)
*South: (Professors Charles Effiong, Solomon Unoh, Ivara Esu and Bassey Asuquo= 17years).
From these analysis, the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar has gone across the 3 senatorial districts of Cross River State but with a conspicuous inequality.
Let’s also have a look at other federal positions in the state as currently occupied:
For instance the University of calabar Teaching Hospital is currently occupied by Prof Ikpeme A. Ikpeme (From the South).
The Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital Calabar, is currently occupied by someone from the South. This makes the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar open to any of the senatorial districts of the State.
It is also extremely ridiculous to be talking about zoning in citadel of learning and growing. We cannot afford to sacrifice competence and quality leadership on the altar of ethnicity and the so called zoning.
As a matter of fact, zoning of positions in a University is alien and strange in modern realities. It is not even done anywhere in Nigeria.
Zoning should not be allowed to lay a dangerous foundation for acrimony in the our University Environment.
Like Prof. N.U Takim-Eno said, “The University of Calabar is not a political party”.
The University of Calabar stakeholders’ forum has also condemned advocates of 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 newsmen in Calabar, 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 Visitors to the university, de-emphasise zoning and ethnic considerations in appointments of Principal Officers in Nigeria’s citadel of learning, adding that it breeds mediocrity and undue favouritism.
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.
Like in the past appointments of VCs, we enjoin the current University Governing Council to do the right thing 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 advocates of zoning 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, 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 in defence of quality education and service delivery by standing for merit in who becomes the next Vice-Chancellor on December 1