By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government has warned the newly inaugurated Governing Councils of 23 Federal Universities not to interfere in the day to day administration of the universities.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who gave the warning while inaugurating members of the governing councils said government will not fail to sanction any member that derails from the mandate given to them.
The minister noted that funding has become a great challenge in the smooth operation of the universities but advised members to look inwards and explore the opportunity of engaging the alumni of the universities as it is done in other countries. He also warned against reckless employment of staff without compliance with the approved budgetary ratio for personnel cost.
Aminu said, “At this point, it is necessary to point out some areas of potential conflicts and pitfalls encountered by governing councils which in some instances had necessitated government intervention and the institution of appropriate penalty including the dissolution of such councils in line with Section 2A of the Universities (Miscellaneous provisions) (amendment) Act 2003.”
Some of the areas of conflicts Adamu warned against include, “Unwholesome practices in the award of contracts in defiance of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (2007).
“Sharp practices and allegations of bribery in the appointment of principal officers of the university without regards to due process and due diligence, thereby imposing incompetent and inexperienced persons on the university system.”
“Arbitrary approval and payment of allowances for council members outside those approved by the government to the extent of arm twisting the university management to pay those unapproved allowances.”
“Convening Council meetings more frequently than what is approved in the books, minimum of four and maximum of eight meetings annually. Sometimes, these meetings are scheduled without any substantial matters for discussion.
“In one particular, instance, a governing Council made it a point of duty to convene meetings for frivolous reasons on a monthly basis, thereby putting so much strain on the university’s meagre resources.
“Undue involvement in the local politics of state governments where the university is located.
“Reckless employment of staff without compliance with the approved budgetary ratio for personnel cost. Part of the salary crisis universities are undergoing presently is traceable to the lop-sided employment pattern by current and previous Vice Chancellors/Councils.
“This has been done to the detriment of the development of infrastructure of university.
“Undue interference by Council in the day-to-day running of the university including matters that are meant for the senate of each university.
“Jettisoning the committee system which is a time-tested culture known to university systems all over the world in preference to working in illegal caucuses.”
He further told them to be guided by the fact that governance and management were two distinct responsibilities in the university system.
The Minister who stated that the National Universities Commission, NUC, would organise a retreat by July to keep them abreast of their roles and expectations, noted that the task of the governing councils was not an easy one.
He said that the executive had taken the resolution to remove courses that have nothing to do with specialised programmes like in the university of agriculture
But the striking out of some courses from the universities of agriculture without recourse to the act that established the universities and the amendment of the act drew the ice of the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Aminu Suleiman.
He insisted that there must be dialogue and wide consultations among all the stakeholders and not something to be done by fiat.