The Federal Government has attributed the leadership crises rocking some of its universities to external influences and political leaders who sponsor appointments of vice-chancellors with the hope of getting returns.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, speaking on Monday in Abuja, warned political leaders investing in the appointment of vice-chancellors with the hope of returns in 2023 that they would be disappointed.
Echono spoke when he represented the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, at the inauguration of new Governing Councils of five federal universities recently dissolved by President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the visitor to the institutions.
Four of the affected universities have been enmeshed in leadership crises occasioned by conflicts of interest in the selection process of new vice-chancellors for the institutions.
The affected universities are: University of Lagos; University of Port Harcourt; University of Ibadan, and the Maritime University Okerenkoko. The fifth university, the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife, has had no council since the expiration of the tenure of the Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi-led Council, some three months ago.
He said: “One of the challenges which governing councils should tackle in the course of their tenure is the appointment of principal officers.
“The councils must ensure that proper attention and priority is accorded to relevant university laws and government guidelines in the process of such appointments. Governing councils must ensure that transparency, probity and due process are followed in the selection and appointment processes to ensure the emergence of the best candidates for these positions.
“We have seen deviations in the recent past in this regard fuelled by growing interest, external influences, including political leaders in the appointment of principal officials in our universities.
“Permit me to tell those who are investing so much into the appointment of vice-chancellors with the hope of returns in 2023 that they will be disappointed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malam Adamu Adamu, in a speech read at the occasion charged a former chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who is the chairman, governing council of University of Ibadan, to bring fresh life and ensure stability, continuity and rebuild confidence and integrity in the institutions alongside other chairmen of councils.
Adamu said: “As you are all aware, unnecessary conflicts can affect the smooth running of any institution. Clash of interests, values, actions or directions often ignite conflicts between management and governing councils of tertiary institutions.
“Efforts should be made by the councils to avoid such conflicts which are capable of undermining the smooth running of our institutions. “The Ministry will not hesitate in recommending the dissolution of any governing council that is engulfed in persistent, unwarranted or self-inflicted crises,” he said.
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke on behalf other members of the five governing councils, said they would contribute their quota in reinvigorating university system in the country.