HomeNews17 fight for position of Unijos VC

17 fight for position of Unijos VC


No fewer than 17 members of the staff of the University of
Jos are vying for the position of vice-chancellor, as the five-
year tenure of the incumbent, Prof. Hayward Mafuyai, ends
in June.
Fourteen of the candidates, including a woman, are
reportedly from the university.
The race started a few weeks ago when the university
advertised for the position. The advertisement, it was
gathered, had triggered apprehension among the
stakeholders, considering the fact that controversy greeted
the last exercise in 2011. The controversy arose after some
members of the institution’s chapter of the Nigeria Medical
Association protested a clause, which allegedly prevented
them from participating in the selection of a new vice-
To qualify for the position, a candidate must be a professor
of at least five years standing and he or she must possess a
doctoral degree. But doctors, who described this as a ploy to
disenfranchise them, contested the requirements. They
argued that the number of years spent training and
qualifying as medical doctors, as well as working as
consultants, were enough to place them on the same level
as holders of doctoral degrees.
One of the contestants and the current Director-General of
the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, Prof.
Innocent Ujah, led the doctors to institute a case against the
senate of the university, challenging the clause.
Although the case is still on, the senate has removed the
controversial clause. But some doctors, operating under the
aegis of the NMA, our correspondent gathered, have
revisited the case in court, with their counsel asking the
university authorities to stop the ongoing selection until the
final determination of the case.
Although one of the members of the NMA, Prof. Nuhu
Dakum, a former dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, is
also contesting for the position of VC, a source said the
doctors needed a statement from the court declaring that
the clause contravened their rights and so should be
A recent directive from the National Universities
Commission, which says that a potential occupier of the
position must be a professor of 10 years standing, may give
rise to another controversy around the selection. This, some
stakeholders argued, contradicted the requirement
advertised by the senate.
According to this school of thought, the advertisement
stipulates that an applicant must be at least a professor of
not less than five years standing.
The NUC directive, it was gathered, had caught many of the
contestants off guard as the majority of them did not fulfil
the criteria. The directive, they claimed, contravened the
2009 agreement between the Federal Government and the
Academic Staff of Universities, which made the selection of
VCs the sole responsibility of the governing councils of
According to the agreement, the councils set the guideline,
conduct the exercise and recommend the best candidates to
the visitor.
A senior lecturer at UNIJOS, who spoke with our
correspondent on the condition of anonymity, disagreed
with the NUC.
He said, “The NUC is setting a bad precedent, which may
draw the university system back to the pre-2009 days. The
council has advertised and provided the guidelines. The
encroachment by the NUC, in my view, contravenes the 2009
FG/ASUU agreement, as it relates to the autonomy of the
university system.”
The don explained that the governing council of the
university had already widened the opportunity created by
its criteria and any attempt to implement the NUC’s 10-year
requirement might trigger an unnecessary legal tussle.
Another controversy that may mar the exercise is the issue
of indigeneship in the choice of a VC for the 40-year-old
institution. In the last three decades, natives of Plateau State
occupied the position such that it appeared to be an
entrenched tradition in the university.
Prof. Ochapa Onazi was the last ‘outsider’ to head the
institution between 1985 and 1989. Except for the brief
period that Prof. G.O Tasie acted as the VC, the job has been
an all-Plateau affair.
Beyond this, there is also the politics of which zone in the
state will produce the next VC. Those canvassing this view
argue that the since the North and Central senatorial zones
had at one point produced the VC, it would be fair to allow
somebody from the southern part of the state to occupy the
position now.
Last week ASUU organised an interactive session with the
contestants in what the ASUU Chairman, Dr. Christopher
Piwuna, described as a form of value setting.
According to Piwuna, the aim of the session is to carry out
an integrity test on the candidates, determine their
broadmindedness and ability to mobilise resources, among
other factors.
He said, “Unlike the past where we have candidates, who will
just come and address us, we collaborated with some
organs of the university, such as the Advancement Office,
Senior Staff Association, and the non-academic staff.
“The aim is to use the session to assess the level at which
the university is, and where we want to be so that we can
agree as a community on what we want and the right
candidate to take us there.”
Meanwhile, the Assistant Registrar, Information and Protocol
of the University of Jos, Mr. Abdullahi AbdulLadi, said the
advertised vacancy was for every Nigerian who was qualified
to vie for the position.
He, however, noted that the preponderance of Plateau State
indigenes was not a ploy to disenfranchise anybody,
especially as it was an open contest.
Abdullahi said, “Yes, many professors have applied for the
position of the VC. Many of them also are from UNIJOS and I
think about 14 are from the university. Maybe the selection
board will have to sit down to prune the number. That will
be the next assignment before the selection. But all have
met the criteria.”

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