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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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52 varsities operating without governing councils

ll is not well in the nation’s ivory tower as 52 universities, owned by the Federal Government, have no Governing Councils. Out of the 52, the councils of 42 were dissolved in July last year barely one and a half years to the end of their tenure on July 15, 2025. The remaining 10 universities, which were established in July 2021, are yet to have councils.

It was learnt that the development has forced vice chancellors to act arbitrarily, including questionable award of contracts. It was also gathered that the absence of councils has slowed down the recruitment and promotion of lecturers.

The councils are expected to perform the following functions, including approving the university’s annual budget, supervising staff recruitment and promotion and approving new academic programmes. The councils are also to ensure that each university functions in accordance with its goal and objectives.

 It is also the duty of a governing council of a university to see through the process of nominating its vice chancellor. But seven months after the dissolution of 42 governing councils, Federal universities have no “concrete direction”.

It was gathered that the Federal Ministry of Education was in a fix on how to manage the legal effect of the violation of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2012.

Investigation also revealed that there was pressure on the government to reverse the dissolution of the 42 councils as done by the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari.

The immediate past Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, inaugurated the 42 Governing Councils of the Federal Universities on July 15, 2021.

The councils were, however, dissolved in July 2023 contrary to the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2012.

Section 2(a) of the Act reads in part: “The council so constituted shall have tenure of four years from the date of its inauguration provided where a council is found to be incompetent and corrupt, it shall be dissolved by the Visitor and a new council shall be immediately constituted for effective functioning of the university.”

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “There is a major challenge at hand in our universities. Some vice chancellors have been mismanaging funds because there are no governing councils to moderate their conduct.

“It has been difficult to recruit and promote lecturers. Instead, some VCs only rush to the Federal Ministry of Education to seek approval of the minister for filling some vacancies in violation of the University Act.

“We ran into this mess barely half into the tenure of the councils. They were arbitrarily dissolved contrary to the provision of the law. It was part of blanket dissolutions of the boards of Federal Government parastatals and agencies.

We believe this was an error as it was done previously under past Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari. The circumstances of the dissolution of the varsity councils by the past governments were the same like what we have experienced now.

“When the attention of the past presidents was drawn to the illegal dissolution of the governing councils, it was quickly reversed to enable effective functioning of the universities as provided in their respective laws.

“It is now over seven months since this error was made and it is yet to be corrected. Staff unions of the universities and other stakeholders have drawn the attention of the government to this but it is yet to take any action.

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