By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
An advocacy group, Law and Equity Advocacy Centre, LEAC, on Thursday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently review the composition of the board of trustees of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, especially regarding its newly appointed Chairman,
The group, in their petition to President Buhari, maintained that the appointment of Ibrahim-Imam to head the TETFUND was unlawful, illegal, a nullity and ought to be set aside for being in violation of both the provision of sections 5(4), 4(1)(b) of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment Act No.16, of 2011 and section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution, with respect to the Federal Character principle.
Also read: NDDC: Isoko group hails Buhari on interim committee, cautions Delta Govt, faceless groups
Among those that were copied the petition titled “The appointment of Ibrahim Kashim-Imam as the chairman of the Board of Trustees Tertiary Education Trust Fund- matters arising”, included the Minister of Education, the Executive Secretary, National University Commission (NUC); the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND); the Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and the Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education.
In the petition that was signed by Affis Matanmi, the group, noted that the appointment of Ibrahim-Imam should be a replacement of the current Minister of State for Education, Chief Emeka Nwajiuba who resigned his appointment on April 9, 2019, after serving as Chairman of the board for a period of 13 months.
The petitioner further noted that Nwajiuba’s appointment as Chairman of the board on March 15, 2018, was to be for a statutory period of four years in line with section 4(3)(c) of the establishment Act, which provides: “other than ex-officio members, each holds office for a term of four (4) years in the first instance and may be eligible for a re-appointment for a further term of four(4) years and no more.”
LEAC, therefore, stated that “Consequent on the resignation of Nwajiuba, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed became the acting chairman of the board. He acted in that capacity between July 9, 2019, and May 13, 2020 (a period of 10 months). Thus, leaving the four (4) years tenure of Chief Nwajiuba with about two (2) years only.
“From the above, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam’s appointment should be a replacement for Chief Nwajiuba whose statutory tenure of four(4) years was left with only two (2) years bearing in mind that Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed was in office in an acting capacity from July 9, 2019, to May 13, 2020 (a period of about 10 months)”.
The group referred president Buhari to section 5(4) of the Act establishing the board which reads; ” Where a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board of Trustees, it shall be filled by the appointment of a successor to hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor so that the successor shall represent the same interest and shall be appointed by the president.”
“From the above, it can be clearly seen that the appointment of Kashim Ibrahim-Imam is not in agreement with the law and therefore illegal.
“Chief Nwajiuba, whose tenure Kashim Ibrahim-Imam was appointed to complete, had only about two (2) years remaining in his tenure. Thus, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam cannot legally stay in office or be appointed to stay in office longer than the period remaining of Nwajiuba in the first instance. He is coming as a successor for Nwajiuba and according to the establishment Act of the board; a successor should hold office for the remainder of the term of office of his predecessor.
“Effectively, the appointment of Kashim Ibrahim-Imam for a period of four(4) years is unlawful, illegal and a nullity as far as the tenure is concerned.”
LEAC argued that since the newly appointed TETFUND boss is not from the same geopolitical zone where Nwajiuba belongs, he would therefore not represent the interest of the South East where his predecessor hails from, as required by section 4(1)(b) and 5(4) of the Act establishing the board.
“Section 5(4) of the Establishment Act provides that the successor shall represent the same interest as that of his predecessor. In this regard, section 4(1) (b) of the Establishment Act becomes relevant. It provides as follows:
“There is established for the Fund, a Board of Trustees (in this Act referred to as “The Board of Trustees) which shall consists of: (b) 6 persons, each representing a geo-political zone in the country.”
“It is instructive that while section 4(1)(b) of the Establishment Act provides that six persons constituting the board shall each represent a geo-political zone in the country. The appointment of Kashim Ibrahim-Imam will in further violation of the provisions of the Establishment Act make the North-East geo-political zone have three persons representing her, while the South-East has no representation in the board.
“The three persons from the North-East geo-political zone are; The Executive Secretary of TETFUND Board, Prof. Suleiman E. Bogoro, from Bauchi; Alhaji Mohammed Liman Ciroma from Yobe state and Kashim Ibrahim-Imam from Borno state.
“Having three persons from the North-East geopolitical zone in the Board of TETFUND while every other zone has one representative is in clear violation of section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution”, the group added in its petition.