Less than four months after the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities announced that the nation’s universities would no longer confer honorary degrees on political office holders, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has brushed aside the new rule, saying it would award doctorate degrees to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Bartholomew Okolo, was part of the decision announced by the Secretary-General of the Association, Prof Michael Faborode, on October 1, 2012.
Mr. Faborode, then vice chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, said at the time that the new rules guiding the conferment of honorary degrees on individuals would be effective from January 2013; and would, henceforth, be referred to as the “Keffi Declaration.”
But the same Prof Okolo announced on Monday that his university would at its next convocation award honorary doctorates to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission , Prof. Attahiru Jega, the Chairman and Founder of Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr Fola Adeola, and Dr Alex Otti, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Diamond Bank.
Mr. Anyim is a political office holder, and honouring him is clearly a violation of the new rule collectively agreed upon by the nation’s vice chancellors.
Mr. Faborode had while announcing the policy explained that the 27th conference of the association held at the Nassarawa State University examined the general erosion of academic culture and tradition in the country.
He said the “Keffi Declaration” would seek to restore the age long university culture and tradition of best practices.
“We observed that the number of honorary degree awardees have become uncontrollably large, ranging from one to 20 in a single convocation ceremony and at times presented in absentia to surrogates,” Mr. Faborode said.
“We have also noted that most of these awards are based on wealth, political office, and position as a means of generating revenue with little or no consideration for integrity.
“There’s no consideration for contribution to the development of the university and no consideration for national development,” he added.
He said the agreed procedure for the award of honorary degrees enjoined universities to make it a policy not to bestow a honorary degree on any person holding political office.
It is not clearly while UNN is brushing aside the regulation in favour of Mr. Anyim. Mr. Okolo could not be reached Monday evening for comments on why his university is honouring Mr. Anyim in violation of the standing order by his association. Prof Faborode could also not be reached to comment for this story.