By Yarima Ilu.
The suspension of Prof. Haruna Abdu Kaita the Vice Chancellor of Federal University Dutsin-Ma seems to be long overdue considering the palpable and debilitating conditions of over 260 staff of the university he unilaterally and wrongfully terminated their appointment without the knowledge of the University Governing Council. The remaining staff of the university who were over worked and at the same time go to work without knowing what would befall them also were relieved of the uncertainty.
It would be recalled that the Governing Council of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma, had on Thursday 13th April unanimously agreed to suspend the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Haruna Abdu Kaita for a period of six months after being severally warned. With this development, the Vice Chancellor is now the second Principal Officer of the University to be suspended after the suspension of the Bursar, Mr. Momohjimoh Sadiq in May, 2016. The Council received several petitions, complaints and appeals bothering on gross financial misconduct, willful violation of the procurement act of the federal government, abuse of office and due process in award of contracts and wrongful termination of appointment of 260 staff between June and October 2016 including some in the much-sought-after specialized areas that are difficult to replace and who are among the most hard working staff of the University. He at the same time declared vacancy of their positions in the national dailies which amounted to waste and mismanagement of government resources, a decision the Federal Character Commission seems poised to distance itself from.
The suspended Vice Chancellor had since his assumption of office in February, 2016 taken some vital and critical decisions without the knowledge of either the University Management Committee or the University’s Governing Council. The University has been struggling to survive since he took office over a year ago; for instance, he was planning to scrap the Department of Food Science and Technology and transfer the entire students to another university as a result of the sack of the entire Departmental staff (both academic and technical).
The same fate affects Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management.
The suspended Vice Chancellor has not only wasted Federal Government resources but has denied Federal University Dutsin-Ma well trained and seasoned academics, even the host community is groaning because most of the economic activities have been grounded.
The Staff Development programme of the University that was applauded by the NUC accreditation team in March, 2015 visitation was seriously frustrated by the suspended Vice Chancellor. For instance, millions of naira was spent by both the University and TETFUND on Staff Development for staff to pursue higher degrees leading to the award of MSc and PhD within and outside the country but the Vice Chancellor unilaterally terminated appointment of many of the staff under Staff Development before the completion of their studies. Most of these staff had signed bonds with the University to return and serve the university for twice the period spent to complete the programme.
Some of these staff had obtained approval for TETFUND grant to travel for studies but due to the fact that TETFUND did not release their money on time, they borrowed money and proceeded for the study. They have since come back and TETFUND has released their money but the VC refused to refund the money already expended on their study.
It would be recalled that the pioneer Vice Chancellor Professor James O. Ayatse in order to promote academic excellence among the students instituted scholarship for best students from 200 to 500 levels. The students in 1st class categories were on tuition free plus N20,000:00 book allowance, while those in 2nd class upper division received N20,000:00 book allowance each. This well applauded practice has been stopped since assumption of office of Professor Kaita as the Vice Chancellor. The 1st University convocation held in January, 2016 was highly celebrated and seen as a moment of joy and happiness for both parents and 1st class graduates of the University as all the 1st class graduates received automatic employment with the University as obtainable in other universities around the World. The pronouncement that was highly applauded by the Visitor was however cancelled by Professor Haruna Abdu Kaita. He also recommended the demotion of Professors and Associate Professors who laboured to raise the University to its enviable position before his coming.
The Vice Chancellor already has many cases bordering on abuse of office and wrongful termination of appointments against him before the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (not less than 100).
The Governing Council has acted in the best interest of Federal University Dutsin-Ma, the host community and Nigeria at large. The allegations leveled against him leading to his suspension cannot be swept under the carpet. According to Martin Luther King Jr, “Like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up, but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all of the tension its exposing creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
To this end the decision of the Pro-Chancellor and Council members to suspend the Vice Chancellor, Professor Haruna Abdu Kaita in order to salvage the university from total collapse is a welcome development at this critical moment.
We believe that Professor H. A. Bichi as the Acting Vice Chancellor (pending investigation of allegations against Professor Kaita), would work hard to restore the lost glory of Federal University Dutsin-Ma.
As one of the pioneer Professors in the University, who has also served in various capacities as pioneer HOD Fisheries and Aquaculture, Dean of Faculty of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology and Deputy Vice Chancellor (academics) he would hopefully salvage Federal University Dutsin-Ma from total collapse with the support of the Pro-Chancellor and Council members.
– Ilu wrote in from new layout, Dutsin-Ma town, Katsina State