“When communities insist that a Vice-Chancellor or Rector must come from their area; is not healthy for the system.”
The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, on Friday condemned agitations by host communities for localisation of appointment of heads of tertiary institutions.
Mr. Wike spoke in Abuja at a meeting with heads of tertiary institutions and chairmen of their governing councils.
He said that Federal Government’s goal of ensuring quality education for the development of the country would not be achieved if merit was not followed in leadership appointments.
“A university, polytechnic or college of education is a federal government institution cited in a community.
“When communities insist that a Vice-Chancellor or Rector must come from their area; is not healthy for the system, and we cannot continue to operate like this.
“We are not happy about this and if we do not do something urgently to stop the trend, the consequences will be grave,” Mr. Wike said.
The minister, who said government would not interfere with the running of institutions, however, said it had a responsibility to ensure that diligent processes were followed in determining the leadership of such institutions.
“We encourage every Nigerian to vie for any position as long as they are qualified,’’ he stated.
Mr. Wike advised the governing councils not to allow sentiment to guide them in the selection of VCs, Rectors and Provosts.
He called on heads of institutions to work together with host communities to ensure peace, harmony and progress in the sector.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, Julius Okojie, said the meeting was convened to discuss issues bordering on the administration of tertiary institutions.
“We are worried about the governance structure; it is either the councils are not aware of their responsibilities or there is interference by host communities.
“There is a need for good university-community relations, and communities should understand that such appointments cannot be localised or even made on federal character basis,” Mr. Okojie said.
On his part, Emma Anosike, a council chairman, said the meeting was to explore ways of ensuring synergy between communities, government and institutions.
Mr. Anosike said the meeting was also to awaken governing councils to their responsibility to enforce laws empowering them in the appointment of heads of institutions.
He also expressed optimism that the protracted strike by unions of polytechnics and colleges of education would be called off in a few days time.