By Gabriel Dike

Details have emerged about the sudden cancellation of the inauguration of the governing councils of tertiary institutions in the country by the Federal Government.

Public tertiary institutions, which include universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, have been without governing councils for over 11 months.

After pressure from the staff unions, the Federal Government last month announced names of council chairmen and members but, without giving any reason, the Tinubu administration cancelled the inauguration.

The cancellation of the governing councils inauguration came less than one week after ASUU rejected the list insisting on the return of the dissolved councils to complete their tenure.

ASUP, in a similar reaction, rejected the list because of the composition of the polytechnic councils, which the union says lacks technocrats and is full of politicians who lack knowledge about the polytechnic system.

ASUP rejects list

The President of ASUP, Shammah Kpanja said the union read the reconstitution of governing councils in Federal Polytechnics through several publications in the media.

According to him, the union had condemned the illegal dissolution of the previous councils against the provisions of the Federal Polytechnics Act and has been consistent in demanding that the councils be reconstituted without any delay.

“Unfortunately, the reconstitution process took nearly one year within which a lot of complications and illegalities held the sector captive.

“Having carefully studied the released list of new members, we want to express our dissatisfaction and disappointment with the composition for the polytechnics,” Kpanja stressed.

The President said the union has demanded that persons with the requisite knowledge of the workings of the sector be appointed.

He added: “Such persons in the category of former rectors and other principal officers from the sector, former chief executives and staff of the regulatory body, retired and serving chief lecturers and other staff from the sector, who have displayed adequate knowledge of the workings of the sector abound in sufficient numbers.

“The current composition falls significantly short of the above as no such person(s) in the categories listed was appointed. This is a great disservice to the polytechnics and is also different from the experience in the two other sub sectors that make up the tertiary education sector.

“We are witnesses to the fact that former executive secretaries of regulatory bodies were appointed in the other sub sectors; but none was curiously found appointable for the polytechnics.

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“Former principal officers and retired and serving staff were appointed but none was found appointable for the polytechnics despite the retinue of former rectors, chief lecturers and other principal officers prevalent in Nigeria’s polytechnic system.”

Kpanja said the union views the unwholesome trend as an extension of the age long discrimination against polytechnics in the country and an attempt to push the sector into crisis.

He insisted that the list for polytechnics as released cannot improve the lot of the polytechnics but rather turn them to play grounds for businessmen.

He warned: “Our union demands that the list for the polytechnics be reviewed before the inauguration to include the class of persons with requisite knowledge of the workings of polytechnics.

“This will save the sector from a crisis associated with poor governance which is likely to prevail if the list is not reviewed accordingly.”

ASUU demands return of dissolved councils

President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke said the National Executive Council (NEC) observed with dismay the continued erosion of autonomy of public universities, contrary to the provisions of the Universities Miscellaneous Act (1993, 2012) and that the illegal dissolution of governing councils by the Tinubu administration and many state governments has paved way for all manner of illegalities in the Nigerian University System.

Osodeke disclosed that university administrations now place advertisements for the appointment of vice-chancellor without authorization from the appropriate quarters – the governing councils.

Said he: “Outgoing vice-chancellors, working in cahoots with the federal and state ministries of education, are illegally running the universities on a daily basis. They routinely usurp the powers of governing councils to recruit and discipline staff as well as manage university finances in manners bereft of transparency and accountability.

“It is therefore stating the obvious to say that these and sundry activities that run contrary to the extant laws are compounding cases of corruption in our universities. ASUU condemns these anomalies in strong terms and calls on the federal government and the equally affected state governments to respect the Laws establishing their universities.

“Universities are supposed to be the bastion of democratic ethos and practices. We cannot entrench sustainable democratic culture in Nigeria if universities are run by the whims and caprices of individuals no matter how knowledgeable or powerful.”

ASUU NEC therefore restated its demand for reinstating governing councils whose tenures are yet to lapse and reconstitute those whose tenures had lapsed so that our universities can run in accordance with their Laws.

He warned that the union would do all within its powers to ensure that the dignity of the academia is fully restored in line with practices obtainable in forward-looking climes.

“So, Nigerians should hold the federal and state governments responsible if the matter of governing councils is allowed to snowball into an avoidable industrial crisis,’’ Osodeke stated.

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