By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN â€”THE Committee of Benin Elders has expressed serious concern over the dissolution of the University of Benin Governing Council by the Federal Government, describing the action as untimely, punitive and calculated to serve the narrow and unworthy interest of the Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu.
Besides, it called on President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to relieve the minister of his position, saying that he has proved to be unable to separate his personal interest from the genuine national interest in the affairs of the university.
The group in a statement in Benin yesterday and signed by its Secretary, Dr. Sam Guobadia, said that in the reconstitution of the Governing Council of the University, the Federal Government should be wary of the role of the minister to ensure that he was not putting up a team that would do his bidding.
The group also wants the government to ensure that only a team that would be guided by the principle of equity, fair-play and federal character should constitute the governing council, vowing that, â€œfailing which the entire Bini shall resist its composition and continue their agitation for a sense of belonging in the university they have peacefully nurtured since 1970â€.
Describing the Ministerâ€™s recent dissolution of the institutionâ€™s governing council as a deliberate attempt calculated to appropriate the powers of the University Council and grant himself the unfettered liberty to direct the affairs of the university straight from Abuja, the Committee of Benin Elders said that such action would negate the spirit and intent of the University (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment Act, 2003) which grants autonomy to the universities in the running of their affairs.
The Committee of Benin Elders accused the Minister of instigating the current state ofÂ turmoil in the institution, â€œ when he deliberately caused government to replace the only Benin man in the University Council with another Esan man, thereby increasing the number of the latter group in the body to two.
â€œThis was done to spite the Binis and foist a situation whereby the council, as reconstituted, will be to the disadvantage of the Binis in the selection of a substantive vice- chancellor for the universityâ€.
They described the action of the Minister as predicated on his serious animosity against the Binis for daring to publicly express their frustration over the unfair situation in the university, whereby for about 40 years since its establishment, no Bini professor had been appointed vice-chancellor.