PRESS TEXT BY STAFF AND STUDENTS’ UNIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF JOS DELIVERED ON MONDAY 19TH APRIL, 2021 AT THE NARAGUTA CAMPUS GATE, UNIVERSITY OF JOS.
Gentlemen of the Press.
It is with a heavy heart that we are gathered this morning to address you on few issues concerning the University of Jos.
Recall that news bulletin from some Media Houses and a publication captured on a National Daily (The Daily Trust) of Monday 12th April, 2021 page 4 bothering on alleged Non-compliance with extant Laws of the University of Jos Act with respect to the Selection process which will lead to the emergence of a substantive Vice-Chancellor.
It is no longer news that sometime in February this year the University lost its Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, the Late Prince Tony Momoh (of blessed memory) who transited to the great beyond after a protracted illness. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in perfect peace with the Lord.
The University of Jos Act Cap U8 LFN 2004, Third Schedule, Article 1(7) states, “if the Pro-Chancellor is not present at a meeting of the Council, such other member of the Council present at the meeting as the Council may appoint in respect of that meeting shall be the Chairman at that meeting, and subject to Sec 4 of the Act and the foregoing provisions of this paragraph, the Council may regulate its own procedure.”
Furthermore, the University of Jos Governing Council Standing Orders Article 9 further supports stating that, “ if the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Council, such other member of the Council present at the meeting as the Council may appoint in respect of that meeting shall be the Chairman at that meeting.”
In compliance with the above provisions, subsisting Council Members through due process elected Dr. (Mrs.) Philomena Mutbam to preside over the Governing Council’s meeting for that day.
It may interest you to note that the late Chairman of Council had initiated the process for the emergence of a new Vice-Chancellor via an advert on 23rd December, 2020 to be concluded in April 2021 before the expiration of their tenure in May of the same year. This was followed by the constitution of a Search Team.
Council first met and took the report of the Search Team. After which Council elected her own representatives on the Selection Board. This was followed by a Senate Emergency Meeting which elected two members of the Selection Board.
The Selection Board met and shortlisted candidates from the list of applicants
and scheduled an interview for 20th – 22nd April being Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the Council proposed meeting to take the report of the Selection Board on Friday 23rd April.
As at the time of this Press Conference, we are not aware of any breach of the extant Laws regarding the selection process leading to the emergence of a new Vice Chancellor for the University of Jos neither are we aware of any petition submitted by any candidate, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Unions, Federal Ministry of Education and the Federal Character Commission. If at all there is any, the right thing should have been initiating a detailed investigation of the processes so far before any decision is arrived at.
To our greatest dismay, the entire selection process was ordered to be suspended and invitation was extended to all Council Members to appear before the almighty Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) unfailingly Wednesday the 22nd day of April 2021.
This, we strongly feel is orchestrated to truncate the laid down statutory processes duly followed before the invitation. May we also state that it is an outright disregard of the University Autonomy Act and a usurpation of responsibility of the University Governing Council.
This singular act of suspending the selection process is creating unnecessary tension within the University Community and generating suspicion amongst the candidates thereby brewing conflict in a peaceful environment.
This from our observation is perceived to be an external interference skewed to favour a particular candidate as against the interest of the integrity of the process.
We would like to draw the attention of the teeming populace of a similar scenario which played out in the University of Benin where the Chairman of the Governing Council resigned and contested an election without being replaced. The remaining members sat and elected an acting Chairman who presided over that process that saw to the emergence of the present Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lilian Salami without any rancour.
We beg to ask, why is that of the University of Jos an exception?
We therefore have the following prayers:
The Visitor to the University should as a matter of urgency call the attention of Professor Abubakar Abdulrasheed the Executive Secretary NUC to desist from interfering with the activities of the University Governing Council who were appointed to oversee the activities of the University on behalf of the Visitor.
The Honourable Minister of Education should direct the conclusion of the selection process for the emergence of a new Vice Chancellor.
In conclusion, we call on all members of the of the University community to remain calm but resolute that due process must be followed as the only alternative for peaceful transition.
It must be noted therefore that any deviation from the above mentioned would have the Executive Secretary NUC held responsible for any breach of peace in the University.
While waiting for the prompt response of the NUC in that regard, we shall continue to monitor processes which would determine our next line of action.
Thank you for listening.
Long live the University of Jos!
Long live Plateau State.!!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.!!!
Comrade Muplang Simon Kangpe
SSANU Secretary, Unijos Branch.