A socio cultural group, the Uk’Omu Igala Organization, an umbrella body for all civil society and cultural associations in Kogi East Senatorial District, Kogi State, has called for the cancellation of the process for the appointment of Vice-Chancellor for Federal University, Lokoja, over apparent irregularities. In a press statement signed by the National Leader of Ok’Omu Igala Organization, Comptroller Abdul Amade (rtd), the socio-cultural organisation said it was appalled that the Senator Chris Adighije-led screening committee disqualified all applicants of Igala extraction for the position of Vice-Chancellor. The statement said, “Report has it that about 80 persons applied for the position out of which 20 distinguished and experienced professors of Igala extraction specifically from Kogi East (one of the three senatorial district of Kogi State) applied. To the best of our knowledge, these scholars of Igala extraction met the criteria published as qualifications for application for the position. However, to our greatest surprise, none of them was shortlisted for consideration, making the process suspicious and clandestine.” Following the impending departure of Professor Angela Freeman Miri in February 2021, advertisements were placed on various media channels calling for qualified candidates to apply for the position of Vice-Chancellor, Federal University, Lokoja to succeed the out-going Vice-Chancellor. The group said “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 googlescholar citations and h-index are even more revealing.
ii. Whereas, at least five (5) 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 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 are simply “local champions.” 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 “last generation” 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. vii. As if these anomalies were not enough, the Council of Federal University Lokoja involved itself in some “illegal maneuvers” in order to achieve its hidden agenda to plant a non-viable and sub-standard University administration at Federal University, Lokoja. 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 march towards 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 “Shortlisting Committee” 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. 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 the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to call the Chairman of Council of Federal University 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. The body said, “From the foregoing, we make bold to submit that we have no confidence on the committee which carried out this assignment of shortlisting. We have no confidence on the skewed process and strongly reject the entire compromised exercise where merit was sacrificed for selfish and parochial consideration.
1. That the Honorable Minister should quickly use his good offices to intervene and put the whole exercise to a hold, as it has led to serious agitation in the state. 2. That the Honorable Minister should use his good offices to ensure that the process be carried out afresh in a transparent manner where all candidates who meet the requirement are considered. Uk’Omu Igala Organization appealed to the minister to ensure that due process is followed in the appointment of Federal University, Lokoja’s Vice-Chancellor “as exemplified in your recent quick intervention in the discrepancies that arose in the selection of the Vice-Chancellors of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and those of the Universities of Ibadan and Lagos. Your efforts at promptly restoring peace in the aforementioned citadels of learning are memorable and highly commendable.”
The group called on Adamu Adamu, minister of education, to intervene by putting the appointment process on hold in order to prevent break down of law and order.