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Buhari cautions pro-chancellors against violating due process in VCs’ appointment

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President Muhammadu Buhari has warned heads of governing councils of Nigerian universities against mismanaging the process of appointing vice-chancellors, saying they would be held responsible for the outcome of the process.

Buhari, who gave the warning at the 2020 convocation and 72nd foundation day celebration of the University of Ibadan, said the government is worried about the avalanche of petitions, many bordering on serious allegations of bribery and corruption, as well as disrespect for due process, in the course of selecting a new vice-chancellor in some federal universities.

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Represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Abubakar Rasheed, the president further warned that government will not hesitate to dissolve or suspend all erring governing councils or university managements found to have fallen short of the standard expected of them.

President Buhari said the government has set in motion several mechanisms to monitor the selection process of VCs with a view to taking appropriate measures, to ensure that the processes are conducted in an open, fair, and transparent manner and violators are properly sanctioned.

“Pro-Chancellors, in their dual role as chairpersons of governing councils and chairpersons of the five-man selection committee for the appointment of a vice-chancellor, must be prepared to bear full responsibility for the management or mismanagement of the process. It is our hope the University of Ibadan, as Nigeria’s premier university, will live up to its billing in this respect,” Buhari said.

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Stating that the government has strengthened institutions such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in the fight against corruption, the president said it is not useful to talk of adequate funding of education if universities are mired in crisis, confusion, fraud and lack of institutional vision.

“I am glad to say that these organisations are working relentlessly to tackle corruption in all its ramifications and to promote the well-being of this nation. It is our collective responsibility to work together and stamp out corruption from our society. Government is determined to continue to fight corruption at all levels, including tertiary institutions.

Buhari assured the university community that the Federal Government would continue to meet its obligations to tertiary institutions and the education sector, saying the government is not unmindful of the special role of the nation’s universities in the upliftment of the socio-economic well-being of citizens.

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“For this reason, the government shall continue to give the necessary support to enable the universities to achieve the objectives for which they were established. The universities, on their own part, will need to reciprocate this gesture by striving, at all time, to measure up to expectation and to justify the huge investment on them,” he said.

On the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Buhari said the industrial dispute has gone on for far too long and caused enough devastation in the lives of students and universities alike, urging the aggrieved university teachers to return to classrooms.

“I wish to assure all stakeholders in the education sector, that the Federal Government will continue to meet its obligations and agreements with all unions. I also make bold to say that government is not unmindful of the special role of our universities in the upliftment of the socio-economic life of our nation,” he assured.

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It is my earnest desire that all unions should shed the toga of confrontation and embrace dialogue, for the sake of our children and the development of our educational system.

“However, it must be noted that government alone cannot carry the enormous burden of financing education. The private sector must be actively involved in the task of providing quality education for Nigerians.

“It is my expectation that universities will make themselves attractive to the private sector, define their roles and carve out a niche by designing programmes that will progressively assist the government in addressing poverty reduction, improving the health sector, the application of new technologies for the advancement of knowledge, advancing equality, protecting the environment, promoting and sustaining human development as well as sustaining democracy and good governance,” he said.

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