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President Bola Tinubu

FG threatening integrity of public universities in Nigeria – ASUU

BY ANKELI EMMANUEL, Sokoto

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS) branch has expressed worry over what it described as the disregard for the autonomy and freedom of the Ivory Towers, which, it claims, is eroding the integrity of the universities.

The Association, which gave instances of some of the violations by the Federal Government as the arbitrary dissolution of University Governing Councils and the recent advertising of vacancies for the offices of Vice Chancellors and other Principal Officers in Federal Universities, noted that such moves could serve as a precursor to the erosion of the principles of transparency, equity, and merit-based selection of university principal officers.

A statement jointly signed by UDUS ASUU branch chairman, Prof Mohammed Nurudeen Almustapha and the Secretary, Shaibu Sadiku Adona said: “the dissolution of all Universities Governing Councils in June, 2023 by the National Universities Commission (NUC) following a directive from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, undermines the established procedures and autonomy of these institutions.”

Wondering when the law transferred the official duties of the Universities’ Governing Councils to the Visitor to the institution or the Minister of Education, ASUU UDUS branch called for a rethink of the directives to avoid flagrant violation of Section 3 subsections 1 and 2 of the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1993 (as amended), stressing that the actions threaten the integrity and academic freedom of Nigeria’s public universities.

“The University Law distinctly delineates the composition, roles, and dissolution procedures of the University Governing Councils. It also prescribes the protocol in the event of Council’s absence, particularly regarding the appointment of principal officers. At no point does the
law transfer the Councils’ functions to the Minister or the Visitor. The Federal Government’s actions undermine the principles of  transparency, equity, and merit-based selection of university principal officers.”

While calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Minister of Education, and other critical stakeholders to urgently reconstitute the Governing Councils of public universities as a step towards allowing for legal and smooth alignment with the provisions of the law, UDUS ASUU branch also urged the Federal Government to uphold the autonomy and independence of universities to safeguard their integrity.

The Association also urged government to equally investigate all violations of the Law in the recent actions taken by various universities in the absence of the University Governing Councils.

UDUS ASUU further appealed to the public to join hands with the Association in protecting the autonomy and integrity of public universities in the interest of the nation’s education system and the future of the country.

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