The Vice Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Vincent Tenebe and his counterparts in the 12 federal universities established by the administration of former President, Goodluck Jonathan have been sacked by the Federal Government.
A terse statement signed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, obtained by reporters at the weekend in Abuja simply stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of new VCs for the universities.
But the sack has generated a huge controversy, with some stakeholders arguing, for instance, that the President lacks the powers to sack Tenebe as only the Governing Council of NOUN, which Tenebe is a member, could remove the VC.
Nevertheless, the NOUN VC was replaced with Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano, the substantive VC of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Prof. Mohammed Kundiri, was transferred to the Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State.
According to the statement conveying the sack of the VCs, a former Head, Department of International Relations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, who was said to be on Sabbatical at the NOUN is the new VC of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
The Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State has Prof. Auwal Yadudu of the Faculty of Law, Bayero University, Kano as its new VC, Prof. Fatima Batoul Muktar of the Department of Biology, North West University, Kano is the VC of Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State.
A lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Haruna Abdu Kaita is the new VC of Federal University, Dutsin Ma, Katsina State, while Prof. Andrew Haruna of the Department of Linguistics, University of Jos will now function as VC, Federal University, Gashua, Yobe State.
Another lecturer in the Department of Pharmacy, ABU, Zaria, Prof. Magaji Garba, will now be VC in Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State, Prof. Alhassan Mohammed Gani of the Institute of Maritime Studies, Federal University, Kashere in Gombe State has been elevated to the position of VC in the same University.
A lecturer in the Department of Physics, Federal University, Lafia, Prof. Muhammad Sanusi Liman will henceforth be VC of the same institution.
For Prof. Angela Freeman Miri of the Linguistics Department, UNIJOS, her new portfolio is the Federal University, Lokoja where she will now be VC.
The Federal University, Ndifu-Alike, Ebonyi State now has Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba of the Postgraduate School, Imo State University, Owerri as its VC, while Prof. Seth Accra Jaja of the Department of Management, University of Port Harcourt is now the VC of Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State.
Meanwhile the Coalition of Civil Society Groups (CCSG) has protested the VCs’ sack in a letter to President Buhari, demanding a reversal.
In a petition to the President signed by its President, Etuk Bassey Williams and Secretary-General, Ibrahim Abubakar, the CCSG said pursuant to the provisions of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act No.11 of 1993 (as amended) by decree No.25, 1996 and further amended in 2003 and 2012 respectively and other agreements as contained in the 2009 FGN staff union agreement, it differed with the sacking of the 13 VCs.
The petitioners said that four out of the 12 appointed VCs were from Kano University, an action they said was “a clear violation” of the federal character principle.
“While this does not come as a surprise owing to the influence of one of the Special Advisers to the Minister of Education in orchestrating the appointments of his friends and cronies without following due process, we are however concerned about the constitutional breach and the resultant litigation battle this action may cause, which in turn may generate unnecessary distractions to your focused administration,” the coalition said.