UNIMAID gets new VC amidst heated controversy

Aliyu Shugaba, next Vice Chancellor of University of Maiduguri.
Aliyu Shugaba, next Vice Chancellor of University of Maiduguri.

The Governing Council of the University of Maiduguri has announced the appointment of the Aliyu Shugaba, a professor, as the next Vice-Chancellor of the institution.

Mr Shugaba’s appointment takes effect from June 3, 2019, when the current vice-chancellor (VC), Ibrahim Njodi, a professor, is expected to end his tenure.

The contest for the new university head was heralded by a controversy that attracted intervention from outside the university community.

According to a statement released to the press by the governing council, Mr Shugaba scored the highest points in the selection process.

The statement was signed by one Biodun Adekanya on behalf of the pro-chancellor and chairman of the council. It indicated that Mr Shugaba, who is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academics in the university, beat 14 other contestants to emerge the winner.

The council said 18 contenders earlier applied to vie for the position but four were disqualified for inappropriate submission of their application forms.

Mr Adekanya said the selection board considered the verbal interaction and scrutiny of the candidates’ resume to reach the final decision on who is the best amongst the 14 candidates.

“At the time of the interactions, the candidates were scored and the final scores were recorded,” the two-page statement reads.

“In accordance with Sub-section 3 (C) of the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amended) Act 2012, the Council hereby pronounce the first candidate, Professor Aliyu Shugaba who scored the highest, as the Vice-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri with effect from 3rd June 2019.”

The Universities (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 2003 and Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amended) Act 2012 empowers a governing council to initiate the process of selecting a new vice on the expiration of the tenure of an incumbent by advertising the vacancy of same office to the members of the public.

It was based on that note, that the UNIMAID governing council advertised the vacancy of the VC’s office calling on interested Nigerian academics to send in their applications.

Following that, the governing council constituted a search team and the Joint Council/Senate Selection Board which coordinated the entire exercise that led to the appointment of the new VC.

Heated Contest

During the build-up to the final selection, the university was thrown into controversy as the contest divided the academic environment into factions that cut across three major contenders.

The three contenders comprised Professors Isa Marte, Bulama Kagu and Aliyu Shugaba.

Mr Shugaba will be recorded as the first head of the university to come from the Southern part of Borno State. He is of the Babur tribe from Biu Local Government Area of Borno State.

His main challenger, Mr Marte, a Kanuri man from Borno State, had in 2014 contested the same seat but lost to the outgoing VC. He was another strong contender, but his candidacy did not excite a section of the varsity who see him as a new face in the campus.

A graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Mr Marte is said to have lived most of his life abroad as a university don before coming to UNIMAID some years ago.

It is rumoured that his uncompromising stance on how an ideal varsity should be ran did not make him a popular candidate. He is credited for setting up the department of pharmacy in the university.

Mr Kagu, a former dean of the school of postgraduate studies, was also amongst the top contenders. Many said he was a second option for those supporting the VC-elect, Mr Shugaba.

He is also a Kanuri from Borno State.

How Borno Governor-Elect Waded into the VC crisis

The Borno State Governor-elect, Babagana Umara, also a professor, had to join other concerned citizens to wade into the controversy.

In a letter addressed to the members of the university community, he cautioned the contenders not to allow the contest to destroy the peace and harmony of the university.

Mr Umara, a graduate of UNIMAID, implored his colleagues that the “ongoing controversy surrounding the appointment of the Vice Chancellor” was unnecessary.

In a letter titled “Re: Appointment of Vice Chancellor for the University of Maiduguri; Allow Rationality to reign” the governor-elect it was his “candid opinion that the unwarranted controversies over the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor will negatively impact upon good governance and an unnecessary distraction from the goals and objectives set for University.”

He said the focus of the leaders of the university, including himself, “as academics in the selection of a Vice-Chancellor, must be on the standpoints of competence, merit and intellectual integrity.

“As key stakeholders and members of the respected academic community, we must stand together to safeguard the high quality of governance and academic delivery in our university.

“We need to look ourselves straight in the eye and tell ourselves the home truth that the system can never make headway if we continue to think of achieving the set goals of University education when we create unwarranted divisions within, ourselves.

“Let us all support the due process as laid down in the selection of our Vice-Chancellor and at the end, let us all join hands to support whoever that emerges as the new Vice-Chancellor for the benefit of our dear state and our country,” Mr Umara wrote.


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