A FEW months ago, the public attention was called to the irregularity in the appointment of a new Provost of the Federal College of Education, Eha Amufu.
After interviewing about eight candidates who were short-listed for the position, the Governing Council of the institution recommended three candidates to the then Minister of Education who was expected to forward the recommendations to the nation’s President to formally approve one of the names on the recommended list for the job. In this instance, the Minister ignored the list recommended by the institution’s Governing Council.
Instead, he brought up the name of the candidate who came last in the interview and recommended him for the appointment. What a travesty of justice, what irregularity and what impudence at this period of transparency and due process in our national life.
The President, based on the recommendation of the Education Minister, approved the appointment of the candidate who came last.
Since this act of favouritism was committed, the man who in fact was recommended for the appointment, Prof. B.C. Nwankwo, had been crying to high heavens for redress, to no avail. In defence of his boss, the Special Assistant to the former Education Minister, said Prof. Nwankwo was not recommended for the appointment based on “security report”. Security report indeed.
The time is long past when security report was used to deny Nigerians their rightful positions. This was an unfortunate practice during the Military era. Even the Obasanjo administration attempted it but was frustrated by the courts. Thanks to the Judiciary, the third arm of government which remains the last hope of the common man.
There had been calls on the Director of State Security Service to make public the security report that should, unknown to the candidate, make him ineligible for the appointment he deserves on merit. Yet the SSS was duly represented at the panel that interviewed the candidates and shortlisted three in order of merit.
Meanwhile, the new Provost who was appointed in error and undeservedly has since been running the institution aground. Basic amenities that should be available in a higher institution, to enable it perform optimally are non-existent in the school.
Power and water are scarce commodities. The school premises is unkempt and is undeserving of a well administered secondary school. No wonder students of the school made public their displeasure with the happenings in the institution when they engaged in demonstration against the school management recently. Some of the students have since left the school to seek admission in other Colleges of Education, while some new students choose to stay at home rather than be enrolled in a mockery of a College of Education.
Maybe the new Provost of the College was appointed on the basis of his being a son of the soil. This clearly illustrates the dangers inherent in our quota or catchment area policy as merit is usually sacrificed for mediocrity and incompetence. Even in appointing a son of the soil, due regard should be given to the person’s capability, experience and competence. To have sent a comparatively greenhorn, without adequate experience in academic faculty and administration in a higher institution of learning to direct the affairs of FCE Eha Amufu is a grave mistake that requires immediate correction.
The Federal Ministry of Education should not continue to sit on the fence when one of the higher institutions under its watch is going into ruins. The situation at the College needs the President’s immediate intervention. It will be recalled that Mr. President, based on Prof. Nwankwo’s petition directed an investigation to the circumstances that led to the disregard for due process in the appointment of a new Provost for the College.
The result of this investigation is still hanging in the air. It is this sorry state of affairs in some of our Colleges of Education that may have resulted in the proposed Federal Government policy to scrap Colleges of Education.
When an institution, a citadel of learning that should give necessary impetus to the values of integrity, merit and excellence degenerates to a level far below expectation, scrapping such institution becomes inevitable. This fate awaits Federal College of Education in Eha Amufu if a competent and experienced administrator is not appointed. The time to do so is now.
Mr. JONAS UGWU, a commentator on national issues, writes from Eha Amufu, Enugu State