Education

Rage, suspense over FUOYE VC race

 

Group condemns council, VC over selection criteria

CRITICISM

A section of academic staff of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), under the Concerned Citizens and Friends of Academia in Nigeria have picked holes in the criteria for selection of a new vicechancellor as announced by the university. But, the management described the group as “faceless” whose position cannot be recognised

 

˜ Preference for federal varsity dangerous step –Group

˜ Management: Application open to all

 

As the process for the appointment of the fourth substantive Vice-Chancellor for the Federal University, Oye- Ekiti (FUOYE) in Ekiti State kicked off, criticism and condemnation have continued to riddle the process.

 

This is as some sections of the institution have flayed the Governing Council over certain clauses in criteria and requirements set by the university authorities for the selection process. The group, which raised eyebrows in the application procedure and faulted the criteria, described the guidelines as a trap and dangerous step introduced into the selection process which are at variant with appointment of vice-chancellors for Nigerian universities.

 

The university Governing Council- led by the Chairman of Council/ Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Mohammed Yahuza, had in the advertisement for the position, which will be vacant in February 2012, as published in some national dailies, set some criteria that must be met for any candidates to be qualified for the position.

 

In the requirements, the candidates aspiring for the position must possess good university education with a proven managerial skills in human and material resources, and he or she should be a highly distinguished scholar of the rank of professor with minimum of eight years’ experience at the time of application, and preferably from a “Federal University” and must demonstrate ability to provide academic and administrative leadership.

 

Part of the criteria is that the candidate must not be more than 65 years old as at the date of possible assumption of duty on February, 2021, while due consideration will be given to candidate with national and international exposure and experience.

 

It added that the prospective candidate for the vice-chancellor job must also be a person with clear vision for the development of the university with proven ability to attract the much needed funds and resources into the institution, as well as possess the ability to cope with the dynamics of university administration in the post-COVID-19 era.

 

The requirement also specified that the candidate must enjoy excellent physical and mental health; must be courageous with proven moral standards; he or she must be fair minded to all manner of persons and be above ethnic and religious loyalties and considerations.

 

But, the aspect of the requirements, which specified that the candidate must preferably come from a “Federal University”, has continued to generate mixedfeelings and condemnation among some members of the academic staff. Some academics, under the aegis of the “Concerned Citizens and Friends of Academia in Nigeria,” have expressed dissatisfaction and kicked against that aspect of the requirements.

 

While criticising the criteria, the group in a statement signed by Dr. Ayokunle Joshua, regretted that the preference given to professors from only federal universities was an attempt to deprive qualified and competent scholars from other universities, such as state-owned universities, the opportunity to apply or be appointed.

 

They, however, described the new criteria introduced by the Governing Council as alien to Nigerian university system, saying: “It was categorically stated that the candidate is expected to be a highly distinguished scholar of the rank of professor with a minimum of eight years’ experience at the time of this application, preferably from a federal university and must demonstrate ability to provide academic and administrative leadership for the fast growing institution.

 

 

“The injection of the clause preferably from a federal university into the advertisement of the vacant Vice- Chancellor position is suspect and may be used to screen out eligible candidates during the shortlisting exercise.”

 

The group considered the requirement as a tactic on the part of the management of the university to exclude a majority of highly distinguished scholars, who may wish to apply for the just advertised position of Vice-Chancellor of FUOYE. According to the concerned academics, the best criteria in the advertisement should have been a requirement that applicants should come from recognised universities.

 

“This selective advertisement is an attempt to exclude and deny the best minds and hands at home and abroad, including indigenes of Ekiti State, the university’s host state, working in state and private universities in the country, as well as those scholars working in foreign universities, who are eminently qualified and interested the right to the position,” the group added.

 

However, the academics, who declared that such a requirement was discriminatory and “has no history in the selection of vice-chancellor in the country, have vowed that the “abnormal criterion” should not be allowed to stand.

 

The group, therefore, called on the appropriate and concerned authorities, including the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) to nip in the bud this surreptitious decoy that would definitely lead to the collapse of meritorious selection of vice-chancellors of Nigerian universities as the effect would be contagious, if allowed to pass in FUOYE. “We equally call on academia, the world over to rise and fight this discriminatory selection of vice-chancellor for the vacant position in FUOYE,” the group said.

 

Meanwhile, since the establishment of the institution in 2011, the first three Vice-Chancellors were appointed by the Visitor to the university with the input of the Council. The new vice-chancellor is expected to take over from the outgoing third substantive Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, who will relinquish the position in February, next year after his five-year single term.

 

But, the university in its reaction, through the Deputy Director, Corporate Services for the institution, Mr. Adeyinka Ademuyiwa, blasted the group, saying they should come out openly to identify themselves and their interest, as the university will not recognise any faceless group.

 

He said: “The university will not respond to people who are throwing stones from the shadows. We encourage them to come out in the open if they have any genuine case. If you are coming to equity, you must come with clean hands. Before we can accord such claims any serious attention, those people must properly be identified; otherwise we see nothing to their claim.”

 

On the number of candidates who have applied for the vice-chancellor job, Ademuyiwa further explained that the identities of the candidates have not been revealed, but confirmed that several applications had already been received. He said: “The group has gone to the media to say that professors from state universities should not be sidelined, nobody is sidelining them, we said  preferably federal universities and that does not imply restriction, but coming from federal universities where we have our affinity because that is our sector.

 

“There are some challenges peculiar to federal universities and things one needs to be able to know. The environment is different, one needs to be able to interface with the Federal Government agencies and know their regulations in order to get things done. The rules setting up federal universities are different and someone who is already familiar with Federal Government structure and terrain will be able to hit the ground running immediately when he comes in.”

 

Ademuyiwa, who decried the level at which some interest groups are waging war to tarnish the good image of the institution built by the outgoing vice-chancellor, however, expressed regret that “some interest groups within the university are trying to smear the image of this administration and discredit the management.”

 

He said: “Prof. Soremekun’s administration is going to complete about 85 projects and it has done more than 68, while there are only 15 projects to go. He has promised that before December, this year, he would complete all the projects. “For instance, if the university Governing Council should appoint, select or elect the new vice-chancellor, it would be the first time the Council will involve in the selection process because the first three vice-chancellors were not selected by the Council, since there was no Council due to the young age of the university.

 

The vice-chancellors were appointed by the government from Abuja. But now, Prof. Soremekun has been working to ensure that all organs in the university are in place and functioning as a federal university. “We are optimistic that FUOYE would have the first elected vicechancellor through a process coordinated by the university Council and this will be a big plus to Prof. Soremekun and the Council.”

 

Ademuyiwa explained further that by the expiration of the tenure of the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, the university would have had 11 faculties; an upgrade from the earlier four faculties Prof. Soremekun met on ground. However, findings by New Telegraph indicated that Prof. Rasaki Ojo Bakare, the Nigeria’s pioneer Professor of Dance, and the Chief Executive Officer of Abuja Carnival, where he served as the Artistic Director for five years is one of the candidates jostling for the plump job.

 

Bakare, the former Dean, Faculty of Arts at the university and later Dean of Post Graduate School, is currently a serving Commissioner for Arts/Culture in Ekiti State. New Telegraph also learnt that the current Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration in the institution, Prof. Abayomi Fashina is another candidate that has indicated interest in the position.

 

Apart from the dust and discomfiture raised over the selection criteria and requirements in which accusing fingers are being pointed on the outgoing vice-chancellor for being behind the introduction of the “abnormal clause”, the university had been in the throe of crises between the management and the unions, particularly the teaching staff union.

 

The university chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which has not been in cordial relationship with the management-led by Prof. Soremekun, had been at loggerheads with the outgoing vice-chancellor.

 

The union, which reiterated its earlier call on the Federal Government to set up a visitation panel to university and other universities as stated by the Minister of Education during the recent inauguration of some governing councils of some federal universities, has levelled various allegations ranging from financial misappropriation to maladministration against the Soremekun’s administration.

 

The Akure Zone of the union through a statement signed by its Zonal Coordinator, Dr. Olu Olufayo; the Chairman of ASUU-OAU, Adeola Egbedokun; Chairman of ASUU-FUTA, Yinka Awopetu; Chairman of ASUU-EKSU, Kayode Arogundade, and Chairman of ASUU-FUOYE, Akinyemi Omonijo, also accused the Vice-Chancellor of flagrant disobedience to the university‘s extant law, rules and regulations.

 

The union accused Soremekun of embarking on some acts that were in sharp contrast to the ethics of governance of the university. But, the Vice-Chancellor, who denied the allegations, explained that the Auditor General of the Federation is looking at the university record to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations.

 

Part of the vice-chancellor’s offences, according to ASUU, is the he carried out illegal recruitment in both academic and non-academic staff during the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as allegation that the illegal recruitment exercise was carried out without interviews and at a time the university had no governing council.

 

But in his swift response to ASUU’s allegations, the Vice- Chancellor, also debunked these allegations, insisting that what ASUU termed as illegal or secret recruitment was approved by the university Governing Council before its dissolution and reconstitution.

 

The Vice-Chancellor, in a statement by Ademuyiwa, the university’s Deputy Director, Corporate Services, noted that all recruitment processes carried out in the university were well-supervised by the Federal Character Commission, which issued certificate of compliance to the institution backing the recruitment exercises.

 

He said: “Everyone, who knows how universities operate, will testify to the fact that recruitment procedures in federal universities follow this pattern. Council directs that vacant positions be advertised, usually in at least two national dailies.

 

“Applicants’ responses are allowed for six weeks within which nothing could be done, subsequently harvested applications are scrutinised and shortlisted following approved criteria, interviews are in turn conducted and the most suitable candidate selected. “In addition, the regulation allows the Vice-Chancellors to appoint staff in some situations and obtain waivers from relevant authorities.

 

Such appointments are later regularised within a given time frame. “Incidentally, the only grouse of these people is the thinking that the management of FUOYE placed advert recently between the last governing council whose tenure expired in February 2020 and the new one, which was inaugurated in July 2020.”

 

On accusation of financial misconduct, Ademuyiwa described ASUU as being impatient with no respect for justice since the union has approached the court on the matter, only to still turn out for media attention. He disclosed that the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee of the Federation is currently scrutinising financial records and procedures of the institution.

 

ASUU referred to a memo by the university, which directed the new employees to go for the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) data capturing. The memo reads in part: “A memo with reference number FUOYE/REG/PEO/IPPIS/006 dated 22nd July, 2020 from the Personnel Affairs Officer of the University directed new staff members to report for IPPIS data capturing .

 

This letter came at a time all members of staff are on COVID-19 lockdown. “Two days letter precisely on the 24th July, 2020, another memo from the Office of the Bursar with reference number FUO/BUR/ STAFF/OOS/OZO, on the need to update staff records with the Bursary Department was issued.

 

“These two letters are clear evidence of secret recruitment going on in Federal University Oye-Ekiti.” The Vice-Chancellor was also accused of “embarking on irregular staff promotion exercise during the lockdown coupled with an online advertisement of vacant positions of principal officers in the institution.”

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