Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu yesterday told the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services that the 12 Vice Chancellors recently removed by President Muhammadu Buhari were replaced by members of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Nigerian Pilot recalls that on February 12, 2016, the Federal Government, through a statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal, announced the sack of the 12 vice-chancellors and appointment of their replacements.
It was learnt that five of the vice chancellors were sacked, while the other seven were disengaged after serving out their tenure, a development that has been criticised and condemned by stakeholders, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, rights groups and members of the civil society who said the president’s decision amounted to a violation of the rule of law and disregard to the principles of federal character. Adamu, who appeared before the committee on Education yesterday, admitted that the candidates appointed for the positions were nominated by the party. He explained that the president only exercised his powers under Section 3 sub-sections 6 and 7 of the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1999 as the Visitor to the universities.
According to Adamu, “The candidates appointed for the vice chancellor positions were nominated by the party. “The president only exercised his powers under Section 3, sub-sections 6 and 7 of the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1999 on the sack of the five vice chancellors.” The minister said that, what his ministry did was to follow the provision of the law on the matter, adding that it was important for it to take that decision. He told the committee that the past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan established these universities indiscriminately and that the sacking of the five vice chancellors in question was because they were on illegal appointments as those institutions were established illegally. Chairman of the committee, Hon. Aminu Suleiman told the minister that there were serious concerns by education stakeholders on the manner the vice chancellors were removed. Suleiman informed the minister that there were pockets of mass protests on the matter, which prompted the House to adopt a motion mandating the committee to investigate the matter and report back to it.
The committee chairman was not, however, satisfied with the minister’s explanation, insisting that the law is clear by the provision of the act that a vice-chancellor could only be removed on the grounds of misconduct or inability to perform the functions of his/her office. “For you to tell me that there are no laws governing these 12 universities is wrong. The only thing you can tell me is that the law is not gazetted. To that extent, it is wrong to have acted on that basis,” Suleiman stated.
Similarly, a former Minister of State for Education and member of the committee, Hon Aishatu Dukku, expressed concern over the minister’s action, stressing that the minister had not given any cogent reason for the removal of the vice chancellors. Other members of the committee insisted that the president had no right to remove the vice chancellors with sitting Governing Councils. They argued that the way and manner the vice chancellors were removed had military undertone, maintaining that what the president should have done was to close the institutions rather than quickly removing the vice chancellors. The committee subsequently asked the minister to re-appear before it on Tuesday next week by 3pm with hard facts and more convincing reasons for the sack, adding that the committee has two weeks to submit its report to the House.
Source: Nigerian Pilot