President Muhammadu Buhari has warned the governing council and the management of the University of Ibadan against manipulating the process of the appointment of a new vice-chancellor.
The president, who stated this on Tuesday during the 72nd foundation day and convocation ceremony of the university, said his administration was worried by the “avalanche of petitions, many bordering on serious allegations of bribery and corruption as well as disrespect for due process, in the course of selecting new vice-chancellors in some of our federal universities.”
Mr. Buhari, whose speech was read on his behalf by the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abubakar Rasheed, said his administration would not hesitate to dissolve or suspend any council or its leadership found wanting in observing due process.
He said as Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan is expected to live up to its billing by conducting open, transparent fair processes in the appointment of a new vice-chancellor.
The speech reads in part; “Government is determined to continue to fight corruption at all levels, including in our tertiary institutions. It is not useful to talk of adequate funding of education, if our universities are mired in crisis, confusion, fraud and lack of institutional vision…Government has set in motion several mechanisms to monitor the selection process with a view to taking appropriate measures to ensure that the processes are conducted in open, fair and transparent manner and that all violators are properly sanctioned.
“Government will not hesitate to dissolve or suspend all erring governing councils or university managements found to have fallen short of the standard expected of them as leaders of citadels of learning in our country. Pro-Chancellors, in their dual role as chairpersons of governing councils and chairpersons of the five-person selection committee for the appointment of vice-chancellors, must be prepared to bear full responsibility for the management or mismanagement of the process.”
The University of Ibadan has been enmeshed in crisis in the last couple of weeks over the appointment of a new vice-chancellor.
The incumbent vice-chancellor, Idowu Olayinka, who is billed to end his five-year tenure on November 30, has been accused of manipulating the selection process.
The university’s governing council chairperson, Joshua Waklek, has since announced the suspension of the process. Mr. Waklek’s decision followed a mass protest by the non-academic staff of the university under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee (JAC).
The JAC comprises the university’s chapters of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union. The unions allege manipulation of the five-member selection committee through the election of the two-member representatives of the university’s senate.
However, the senate of the institution has asked its members who alleged violations of their rights by protesting workers to formally lodge complaints with the police and other security agents. The senate comprises academic staff including professors and acting heads of departments who are yet to be promoted to the rank of full-fledged professors.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on the campus also threatened to fight back if any of its members is assaulted by the non-academic workers during any protest again.