The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, has accused some state governors of hijacking the process of appointing vice-chancellors for Federal Universities, due to apathy in the selection processes.
Adamu disclosed this on Thursday, in Abuja, while inaugurating the Chairmen and Governing Councils of 19 federal universities, four inter-university centres, and the unveiling of the new Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, in Benue.
He described this vested interest as responsible for the unimaginable crises in the selection processes of the vice-chancellors for those particular universities in the country, citing the development as leading to ”unnecessary frictions and tension in the institutions”.
Adamu, who enjoined the Governing Councils to take charge and exercise their rights, urged them not to allow outside influence in the selection process of the new vice-chancellors of their institutions.
According to him, the Federal Ministry of Education, under his watch, had not in any way interfered with the selection of any vice-chancellor, and ”I have not talked to any chairman that I have any candidate”.
“Unfortunately, I found out that because of my lack of interest, or because I feel I should allow you (the Council) to exercise your right, it is being hijacked by the governors.
“It is your right; don’t sell it to them. The law stipulates that and we are giving you full independence, don’t sell it to them.
“It is, therefore, essential that you familiarise yourselves with the specific laws establishing your university or centre, as well as with other relevant laws of the Federation.
“You should, in particular, be guided by the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1993 and its various amendments (of 2003 and 2012),” he said.
He also urged them to strictly adhere to Section 2AAA of the 2003 Amendment Act.
“The Act stipulates that: “The Governing Council of a university shall be free in the discharge of its functions and exercise of its responsibilities for the good management, growth and development of the university.
“Section 3 (4) of the same 2003 Amendment reposes on Council the power to appoint the vice-chancellor of the university.
“I urge you to exercise this power with utmost sense of responsibility and in the best interest of your universities,” he said.
Adamu said the reconstitution of the Governing Councils of the Federal Universities was coming at the appropriate time, as the government recently constituted visitation Panels to the universities.
He disclosed that the Panels had rounded off their assignments and would soon submit their reports in two separate volumes, covering the periods: January 2011 – December 2015, and January 2016 – December 2020, respectively.
As soon as the reports are received, he said, the government would study them and issue White Papers, pointing out that their recommendations would guide Councils and Management on improving their systems and services, as they take the necessary steps to address the lapses and weaknesses identified by the panels.
Adamu, however, warned the council members that the President and Visitor to the Federal Universities would not hesitate to dismiss any Council found to be corrupt or incompetent.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, has urged the new councils to partner with the commission in ensuring that their institutions thrived to be centres of knowledge production and human development.
“Our universities, as ivory towers, are the last frontier for the positive development of the next generation of Nigerians and must, therefore, be cherished and shielded from all external vagaries that threaten the attainment of set goals.
“On our part, we have continued to carry out our mandate as the regulatory body, in spite of the recent challenges and restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am pleased to inform this gathering that we have, among other things, actively engaged in re-engineering the curriculum of the various disciplines and programmes being run in the universities, whilst also strengthening the pedagogical skills of our academics for national relevance.
“We have reviewed key aspects of our quality assurance mechanisms to address the inadequacies in teaching, learning and research facilities on our campuses, whilst fostering skills development and entrepreneurship in a bid to prepare our graduates for life after tertiary education,” he said.