ByÂ Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN â€”Edo Leadership Forum (ELF), a socio-cultural group of Benin professionals abroad, has appealed to the Federal Government to ensure transparency in the on-going process to appoint a substantive Vice-Chancellor for the University of Benin (UNIBEN).
In a letter addressed to President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, and signed by the president, Dr. Oboma Asemota and two others, the forum expressed fears over what it described as deliberate attempt to frustrate the emergence of qualified Bini as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University and warned that due process must be followed to avert possible crisis in the institution.
The group faulted the composition of the selection committee, which it said was composed in a manner to ensure that candidates of Bini extraction were not given fair treatment in the process.
It added that as a president that believes in the rule of law, the community where the university is situated should be considered since it was the only ethnic group in both Edo and Delta that was yet to produce the Vice-Chancellor, irrespective of the fact that the institution was situated in its soul.
According to the group, the â€œshroud of secrecy surrounding how the selection committee was convened is unacceptable”.
â€œThe selection committee is not inclusive and the criteria for selection have not been made known to all stakeholders, this is problematic and casts a dent on the integrity of the process.
â€œTo avoid civil unrest, it is crucial that the make-up of the selection committee and the process of appointing the individuals in the committee be made known to the general public.
â€œYour Excellency, it is imperative for the integrity of the universityâ€™s public image and the legitimacy of whoever becomes the VC of UNIBEN that the process of selection is made transparent.
â€œRumors abound about the behind-the-scenes politicking and deal-making.Â While this is not peculiar, however, in a heightened state of affairs as what currently obtains at the university, it becomes paramount that all stakeholders are fully cognizant of the procedures and process of selection to prevent any break down of law and order when the outcomes of the selection committee is made known.
â€œMr. President, your administration cannot afford to be seen as being dismissive and unresponsive to legitimate issues of marginalization and discrimination that have been articulated.Â The Nigerian polity cannot at this time afford to encourage aggrieved citizens to take up arms as the only means of being guaranteed deserved attention from you and members of your cabinet.
â€œThis is a summary of our concerns as citizens committed to a process that upholds the spirit and values of equity, meritocracy and justice.
â€œThe Binis are not requesting for hand-outs. They want and support a process that is fair, just and based on merit.Â A qualified indigene of the host community should not be disadvantaged or prevented from consideration for the position because of undue ethnic jingoism.
â€œWe expect a response to these pertinent issues and demand that the many errors that have trailed the UNIBEN VC selection process be corrected before it is too late.â€