The Committee of Vice-chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVC) received the news of the appointment of 13 new Vice-Chancellors for 12 Federal Universities and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) through the Television Networks over the week end, and would like to make the following comments:

    i. For the 9 Federal Universities established in 2011, except the Federal University Oye-Ekiti, the tenure of the Vice Chancellors expires on Monday February 15, hence it will be wrong to say they are being sacked. As far as the CVC is concerned there can be no justification for their being sacked, having labored stridently to establish enduring foundations for the fledgling universities. Rather, we congratulate them for ending their tenure on a commendable note.

    ii. Perhaps the date of the announcement being Friday 12 February conveyed a wrong message that the new VCs were expected to assume office on that date, thereby giving a wrong impression that the outgoing VCs were sacked. This is far from the true position. Indeed, from information available to us, all 8 VCs had handed over to their respective Ag. Vice-Chancellors (appointed by their Governing Councils) against Monday Feb 15, in line with provisions of the University Miscellaneous Act.

    iii. For the 3 new Federal Universities at Birnin Kebi, Gashua and Gusau, and that at Oye-Ekiti, whose VC was appointed after the pioneer VC, Prof C. Nebo, was named Minister, we are surprised that new Vice Chancellors are announced to have been appointed, as this does not conform to the extant practice in the university system. The VCs have inviolable tenure of 5 years. The situation is even made worse by the announced appointment of a new VC for NOUN, which is no stranger to the statutory process of appointing a VC. We plead that these Vice Chancellors should be allowed to complete their tenure or proper statutory and transparent procedures be adopted if they are accused of any wrong doings.

    iv. The power to appoint and remove a substantive Vice-Chancellor, and when the need arises, an acting Vice Chancellor, is vested in the Governing Councils. The National Open University has a Council in place. We are now aware that the Councils of the 12 Federal universities were dissolved unceremoniously a day earlier, and the appointment of new ones announced. We have said before that though a 4-year tenure was prescribed for Governing Councils, the reality of change of government may necessitate re-constitution of such Councils if the Government feels compelled to do so. In our candid and unbiased opinion, the Minister should have allowed the new Councils to be properly fully constituted and sworn-in, and then take the statutory responsibility of setting the machinery in motion to appoint the substantive VCs for the universities.

    v. The now dissolved Councils of the 8 Universities had actually initiated the process of appointing their Vice-Chancellors and one, Federal University Dutse, had even concluded the process and had appointed a Vice-Chancellor-designate (the candidate has now been assigned to another university in this random process. If he is found appoint able, why not in the same university where the Council had appointed him?) before the directive from the Ministry of Education to put the process on hold in the remaining 7 Universities. So the system is not oblivious of the right procedure to follow on this matter. Why then are we incurring unnecessary complications for the universities?

    vi. The subtle usurpation of the statutory function of Governing Councils by the Minister in appointing the new VCs does not augur well for the integrity and good health of the Nigerian University system. Quite rightly, the President had expressed concern about the poor ranking of Nigerian universities, but incidentally, good governance is one of the crucial ingredients of attaining world-class university status. Hence, these steps represent a minus for our system. We plead that the steps be reversed in the interest of the good intension of Mr. President.

    vii. When the 12 universities were established and Governing Councils were yet to be constituted, the Government then abridged the process for the appointment of VCs and randomly picked the set of outgoing/out-gone VCs. The same procedure was employed again when the “upgraded” Colleges of Education were pronounced as Universities. We heaved a sigh of relief when that aberration was reversed. It is thus inconceivable that such an aberration will be condoned and adopted under the current dispensation. The enshrined competitive process for the appointment of VCs has immeasurable benefits as opposed to ‘random selection’ of otherwise unwilling individuals, who are NOT aligned with the vision of a university. We are regrettably doing incalculable damage to our education system, by unwittingly demoralizing and de-motivating Vice Chancellors, and highly distinguished Pro-Chancellors and Chairmen of Governing Councils.

    viii. We submit that the Nigerian University System has a lot to offer the country in exemplary conduct of governance, and can be properly repositioned to be relevant to the crucial task of re-engineering the country in line with the change mantra of the current government. The best approach for this however calls for greater synergy between all stakeholders, and Vice Chancellors are very central to this process. Hence policy initiatives that will in anyway connote the denigration of the exulted office should be avoided.

    Professor Michael O. Faborode
    Secretary General
    For the Committee


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