FCC (Federal Character Commission) said on Thursday that the appointment of 13 new vice-chancellors to oversee federal universities complied with federal character principles.
The acting Executive Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Shettima Bukar-Abba, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Bukar-Abba was speaking against the backdrop of Wednesday’s protest staged by a group of about 2,000 people in Abuja against the sack of 13 vice chancellors of universities and the appointment of new ones to replace them.
The protesters, under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Groups (CCSG), barricaded the National Assembly where they chanted solidarity songs while carrying placards with inscriptions such as “Adamu must go’’, “Reinstate the sacked VCs now’’, and “Nigeria needs a better administrator in the Education Ministry’’, among others.
The acting executive secretary said that the appointment of the 13 vice chancellors did not violate any provision of the law establishing the affected universities.
“The universities that have their vice chancellors appointed, most of them have already written to us that their vice- chancellors have finished their terms, requesting the federal character to witness their interviews after due advertisement.
“The other thing in order is that those vice-chancellors have already finished their five-year term and therefore, appointment of vice chancellors is purely a prerogative of Mr President.
“If you look at the six geo political zones of the country, North-Central has nine Vice Chancellors, South-East has five, North-East has four, South-South has seven, South-West six and North-West seven.
“The spread as far as the federal character is concerned is quite satisfactory and is in compliance with the federal character principles.’’
Bukar-Abba said that the recent appointments affected only 13 universities out of the 38 owned by the government, with only four of them located in the North-West zone of the country.
The chairman said that the new vice-chancellors were selected from all the geo-political zones of the country.
He stated out it is the responsibility of the commission to query the appointments if it discovers any form of marginalisation in the process.
He explained that FCC seeks to ensure that there is equity, fairness and justice in the processes of recruitment and appointment rather than interfering in such appointments.
Bukar-Abba said that the recent appointments followed the usual pattern whereby vice-chancellors were appointed from either their states of origin or the universities they were serving.
The acting executive chairman stated that the criteria for appointing a new vice-chancellor are set by the university’s governing council even though the commission monitors compliance with the laid down rules and regulations.
“Most of these vice-chancellors have the input of their boards because it is the board that advertised the position of the vice chancellors.
“They are the ones that told us at the Federal Character commission that a vice-chancellor from a university has completed his/ her term and they are now putting in place a process of the appointment of a new one.’’
On the case of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Bukar-Abba said the former vice-chancellor, Prof. Vincent Tenebe, had already completed his term.
He emphasised that the statute books do not have any provision for tenure elongation in keeping with the original agreement between the university management and the unions.
Meanwhile, the Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) has said that the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, did not carry out the exercise in line with “the statutorily–provided procedures in the university system”.
The committee said on Wednesday in a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Prof. Michael Faborode, that the affected vice-chancellors were not sacked, but had completed their tenures “honourably”.
According to the committee, there is a misconception about the disengagement of the vice- chancellors of the 13 universities, particularly the first nine.
He said that the tenures of eight of the nine VCs expired on Feb. 15 in line with the University Miscellaneous Act.