The staff and students of the University of Jos, on Monday, held a peaceful protest against a directive by the National Universities Commission (NUC) suspending the process for the selection of a new vice-chancellor for the university.
Addressing journalists during the protest at the Naraguta Campus of the University, the secretary of the local branch of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Muplang Kangpe, decried the role of the NUC in the process.
“The involvement of the NUC in the selection process will truncate the due process laid down for the legal selection of the vice chancellor, that’s why we are protesting,” he said.
He said through a letter dated April 14, “the Secretary of Council and the Registrar of the University of Jos, Monday Danjem, had informed all members of the Joint Council and Senate selection board that, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission has directed that the process for the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor for the University of Jos should be suspended until further notice.
“The letter further stated that, the meeting of the Joint Council and Selection Board of the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor for the University of Jos earlier scheduled for 20-22 April 2021 has been suspended until further notice.”
Mr Kangpe added that “the involvement of the NUC in the selection process is a disregard to the University’s autonomy, and a suppression of the University governing council’s responsibility, therefore causing unnecessary tension within the university community, thereby generating suspicion candidate and brewing conflict in the University’s peaceful environment.”
“From our observation, this is an external interference to favour a particular candidate as against the integrity of the process, that we shall fight against,” he said
The protesters urged the Visitor to the university, President Muhammadu Buhari, to stop the NUC Secretary-General, Abubakar Rasheed, “from interfering in the activities of the University Governing Council (who were selected to oversee the affairs of the University on behalf of the visitor) and he should direct the conclusion of selection process immediately.”
Meanwhile, Danladi Adankala, the president of the Students Union Government, said, “the SUG is supporting these demands because they are interested in knowing who becomes the next VC because we make up the major population of the community.
“The vice-chancellor selection process is done internally, why is it an exception this time? We will not overlook any compromise because anyone who is appointed will have a great influence on us (the students)”, he said.
The protesters blocked all access routes to the Bauchi Road and Naraguta campuses, thereby disrupting the ongoing first-semester examination in the university.
The protesters held placards with different inscriptions like, “Let the Process Continue”, “No external Interference”, “We want peace” amongst others.
When reached for comments, the NUC spokesperson, Ibrahim Yakassai, asked the reporter to call him back after an hour. He did not pick subsequent calls nor reply to a text message sent to him.
However, there had been reports that some members of the governing council were opposed to the latest selection process and had asked the NUC to intervene.
Controversy had surrounded the selection of a new vice-chancellor since the expiration of the five-year tenure of Sebastian Maimako.
The selection process is usually conducted by the university’s council.
In 2020, the council led by Tony Momoh began the selection process but Mr Momoh died in February 2021 before the completion of the process.
To continue the process, the members of the council appointed Philomena Mutbam to preside over the council in line with Article 7 (1) of the University Act.
The processes were going on until the council got the directive from the NUC to suspend it and report to the commission’s head office at Abuja.