By Maryam Garba Hassan.
Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, has condemned what he described as “agitation” for localised appointments of heads of tertiary institutions by host communities.
Wike made the condemnation Friday at a meeting with heads of tertiary institutions and Chairmen of their councils in Abuja.
He said the Federal Government’s goal of ensuring quality education for the development of the country could not be achieved if merit was not followed in the appointment of leadership.
He said Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education are Federal Government institutions cited in communities therefore, communities have no right to insist that a VC, Provost or Rector must come from the area adding that it is not healthy for the system and it cannot continue to operate like this.
He said government is not happy with the new development and has to do something urgently to stop the trend as the consequences will be grave.
He said though government would not interfere with the running of institutions but has the responsibility to ensure that diligent processes were followed in determining the leadership of institutions.
“We encourage every Nigerian to vie for any position as long as they are qualified,” he stated.
The minister who advised heads of institutions to work together with host communities to ensure peace, harmony and progress in the sector, said governing councils should not allow sentiments to guide them in the selection of VCs, Rectors and Provosts
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie said the meeting was convened to discuss issues that bordered mainly on administration of tertiary institutions.
He said the federal government is worried about the governance structure adding that its either the councils are not aware of their responsibilities or there is interference by host communities.
“There is a need for good university-community relations and communities should understand that such appointments cannot be localised or even made on federal character basis,” okojie said.
On his part, Sen. Emma Anosike, the Chairman of Council Chairmen of Colleges of Education, said the meeting was to explore ways of ensuring synergy between communities, government and institutions.
Anosike said the meeting was also to awaken governing councils to their responsibility of enforcing laws empowering them in the appointment of heads of institutions.
He expressed optimism that the protracted strike by unions of polytechnics would be called off in a few days.