The unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable as the country must remain one indivisible country and progress on that threshold to become a world power in the future.
That is the belief of majority of ordinary Nigerians who earn their livelihood surviving from hand to mouth on a daily basis.
But some careless decisions, actions or inactions of some people in authority is constantly threatening the unity of the country as such may be perceived as deliberate attempts to discriminate against people of other tribes or religions in the country.
Only recently, Nigerians woke up to the news that over 200 staff of the Federal University Dutsinma, Katsina State have been unduly relieved of their appointments by the institution’s authority.
Though the news has been suppressed on the mass media either by act of commission or omission, few Nigerians that heard about the development have condemned it in totality.
The letter of the termination of appointment which was duly signed by the Registrar, Aliyu Dalha Kankia, said that the Vice Chancellor, Professor Haruna A. Kaita endorsed the sacking of the staff.
“By this letter, the Bursar is directed to stop your salary with immediate effect and to pay you one month’s salary in lieu of notice. Payment of the one month’s salary should be subject to submission of duly filled clearance form,” the letter that was served the sacked staff read.
Just like that, people that had contributed to the institution for not less than a year and that were not prior to then, issued queries or warnings for any wrong doing were unbundled without blinking of an eyelid.
The manner it was done, is what is leading to suspicion from the affected staff, who are of the opinion that they were sent packing simply because they were not indigenes of Katsina State, nor Muslims, an allegation that is weighty, considering the fragile unity the country is battling to salvage.
Two days after the letters were issued, on September 8, 2016, an internal memo circulated within the institution, which originated from the Registrar, described the sack as efforts aimed at ‘sanitising’ the university system of all irregularities and abuse of due process.
The memo stressed that a number of staff of the institution had been on temporary appointment for over one year in most of the cases, which had expired without being renewed.
“Technically and legally, these staff do not have employment with the university. Some of the affected staff have unavailingly tendered letter ‘regularising’ already expired and non-existing appointment.
“The university authority become concerned about the myriad infractions and undue processes and resolved to carryout its statutory responsibility of correcting the wrongs and insisting on due process,” the memo stated.
The question the Vice Chancellor and Registrar may be required to answer is that, how does sacking staff who were not made permanent staff by the institution correct the so called infractions? If indeed they had genuine intentions in correcting the wrongs, why didn’t they just regularise the arrangement and made them permanent staff, instead of sacking them, including a professor, who was the only professor in a department?
In another argument, it is on record that same staff that were sacked, had in February this year undergone interview for regularization. The interview according to an internal memo from the institution, had taken place from Wednesday February 10 to Thursday February 11, at the Senate Chamber and Registry Conference Room of the institution.
That memo with reference number FUDMA/REG/94/1/43 which was signed by Vandu Z. Augustine on behalf of the Registrar, was addressed to all junior and senior staff that were on temporary appointment.
So what happened to the result of the interview, which was gathered that also had on its panel, a team from the Federal Character Commission?
From the list which I got a copy, not even one of those who attended that interview was spared by the broom the institution’s administrators used in sweeping out ‘undesirable elements’ from their system.
It is pathetic and sad that in the history of our nation at this point in time such incidents can be done with impunity and in broad daylight, without any higher authority coming out to challenge same, another argument that links further suspicion to the drama.
Yet another angle is the fact that the key administrators of the institution are from Katsina State, which co-incidentally is the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, a reason many believe he should act to save himself from the conspiracy theorists that suspect he is also in the know of the entire happening.
The argument is that the Chairman Governing Board of the institution, is from Katsina State, just like the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar. This school of thought is of the opinion that it was a deliberate attempt at weeding out non-indigenes of the state, so that they can be replaced with indigenes.
Just like an answer to their prayer, on November 21, 2016, the university’s authority placed an advert on the Daily Trust Newspapers, page 26, requesting for applications to fill in vacant position of staff that were sacked barely two months earlier.
This is a call to action for those in authority to take a closer look at the development at the Federal University Dutsinma, in view of the suspicions being raised by those affected. The development should be properly investigated and those found to have been wrongly sacked should be re-instated. Nigeria does not need more issues that will lead to bad blood at this point in time. We should conduct ourselves and live as brothers to move the country forward.
Jacob Onjewu Dickson is the Founder, Minorities Unity Movement (MUM), he can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org