Dec 18, 2020
The Honourable Minister of Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
Dear sir, On the Flawed Process of Appointment of Vice Chancellor at Federal University Lokoja: A Call for Transparency, Justice and Fair play We, the undersigned, are leaders of two frontline organizations namely:
The Igala Professors Forum, and Ukomu Igala Organization. As it will be clear from this protest letter, we are not complaining on the ground that it is the entitlement of the Igala to produce the next Vice-Chancellor of the University, considering that any qualified Nigerian citizen can be appointed to the position. We are protesting on the ground that exceedingly qualified Igala candidates are citizens of Nigeria and their exclusion on grounds other than merit is unconscionable, objectionable and should be remedied in the interest of justice and fair play.
We are guided by the injunction that a nation can endure unbelief, but not injustice. We have observed with keen interest, recent developments in connection with the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor forFederal University Lokoja. We were particularly intrigued by the news in the social media, that ALL the ten Igala Professors that applied were disqualified from the process for reasons that can never be academic, to any competent objective observer that has good working knowledge of indices of academic excellence that are expected to be brought to bear in the administration and management of any higher institution that is aspiring to attain world class status any time in the future. The ten Igala Professors that applied include the following:
Professor Sunday E. Atawodi, Professor Patrick A. Audu, Professor Emmanuel Achor, Professor Friday Ati, Professor Mohammed Bello Yunusa, Professor Stephen Ocheni, Professor Dominic A. Akpa and Professor Isaac Itodo.
We came to this conclusion following analysis and comparison between the twelve (12) shortlist and some of the Igala Professors that were disqualified from further participation in the process:
i. A Google scholar search revealed that whereas, at least five of the Igala Professors had between 35 and 165 GoogleScholar –accessible Publications on the internet, six (6) (or 50%) of the twelve top shortlist for position of VC by FUL council have GoogleScholar –accessible Publications of only between 2 and 20. Other indices academic impact like google scholar citations and h-index are even more revealing. ii. Whereas, at least three
(3) of the ten disqualified Igala Professors were elevated to the rank of Professors, mostly in first generation universities, between ten (10) and up to twenty (20) or more years ago, some of the top FUL Council’s shortlist for VC currently have less than ten (10) years of experience as Professors, and many of them from second and third generation Universities. iii. While, at least one of the disqualified Igala Professors is a Fellow of the merit-based apex umbrella scientific organization, the Nigerian Academy of Science, none of those on the shortlist appears to have earned such scholarly status (Fellow of Nigerian Academy of Science or Fellow of Nigerian Academy of Letters).
iv. Whereas, some of the disqualified Igala Professors have notable national and international exposures, having won some competitive international research fellowships, grants and scholarships, and are, or have been members of some relevant national committees for grant administration (like TETfund Standing Committee on Research and Development, National Research Fund, Nigerian Science Prize, etc), most that made it to the FUL Council’s shortlist for VC simply lack such national or international qualities.
v. Whereas, many of the disqualified Igala Professors have administrative experiences as Head of Department, Assistant Deans, Deputy Deans and even Directors in mostly, first and second generation universities where administration is more complex and challenging, many of the shortlisted candidates can only flout “higher” administrative experiences in far much younger universities and private institutions, where administration is at best, routine. vi. In circumstances of stiff competition for position of Vice Chancellor, parameters such as presentation of “Inaugural Lecture”, being a desirable academic responsibility, is usually introduced. However, it is observed that while some disqualified Igala Professors have presented their “Inaugural Lectures”, some of the shortlisted candidates have not. READ Gov Bello Re-appoints Zakari as CMD Kogi Hospital Mgt Board vii. As if these anomalies were not enough, the Council of Federal University Lokoja appears to have involved itself in some “inexplicable maneuvers” in order to achieve a pre-determined outcome. These include:
(a) Appointing a “Shortlisting Committee” to undertake a generally discredited shortlisting process that is antithetical to academic traditions and inimical to dream of any institution of higher learning to work towards attaining world-class status by using criteria that are not the most essential academic criteria in appointing a Vice Chancellor that has robust capacity to take FUL to the next level, is not acceptable. This is because,there is no provision for such a committee under the University Laws. What is provided for, is “Selection Committee” that will undertake both shortlisting and Interview of the candidates.
(b) The criteria used by the so-called “ShortlistingCommittee” to disqualify Igala Professors were supposed to be debated, amended and accepted by the whole council for implementation by the Selection Committee, even before applications were opened by the Committee. None of these basic principles of international, or even national best practices was adhered to
(c) Instead of discharging its duties within the premises of Federal University Lokoja under the full glare of the administrative and security structures of the University, the “Shortlisting Committee” met twice in Abuja in a very suspicious move (first for about a week), in order to perform its “duties” when there is no imminent breach to security in FUL premises, or indeed, Lokoja town.
(d) Despite the claim that the “Shortlisting Committee” was guided by “objective criteria”, it is curious that it made highly subjective judgment that highly ranking academics of Igala origin were excluded on the ground that their CVs did not show that they have the required ICT proficiency and are not capable of fundraising from external sources to support the University. It would appear to us that this conclusion is premature since this kind of judgment can only be valid after the selection committee would have interacted with a candidate.
(e) From investigation, it appears to us that some pre-anointed candidates were provided privileged information on how to structure their CV to achieve a pre-determined outcome. This information was not available to the non-preferred candidates like those of Igala extraction. Based on these anomalies, we are compelled to believe that the Council of Federal University Lokoja has not displayed adequate evidence of intention and or capacity to fairly and transparently organize, implement and supervise an acceptable merit-based process that would lead to the appointment of a Vice Chancellor with intellectual capacity, relevant national and international exposures, and social and political acceptability to lead Federal University Lokoja in a way that would usher in steady development and stability in the next dispensation. Therefore, we would like to humbly call on you, sir, to call the Chairman of Council of Federal University Lokoja to order, so as to prevent break down of law and order in the institution in the short run, and to avoid continued stagnation of the University, in the long run. Sir, for the sake of justice, we look forward to your prompt intervention that would lead to complete review of the current process so as to guarantee objective, merit-based assessment that would be transparent, free and fair to all candidates, as well as the University system. Please accept the assurances of our highest regards,
Professor Danladi Ameh,Comptroller of Customs (RTD)
Amade Abdul Chairman, Igala Professors’ ForumNational Leader, Ukomu Igala Organization.