By Adesina Wahab
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr Femi Falana and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, have faulted the reappointment of Dr Abubakar Dzukogi, as the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State.
According to them, appointing him for a second term of four years without considering his age is an abuse of the Federal Polytechnic Act 2019 as amended and the extant provisions.
Falana and ASUP stated this in separate letters to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief of Staff to the President, the Minister of Education, the Head of Service of the Federation and the Minister of Justice.
They said as at the time of his re-appointment in 2019, Dr Dzukogi was 63 years, 4 months old and was expected to serve for two years as stated in the first letter by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.
Falana said Dzukogi’s first tenure ended May 22nd, 2019 and that Adamu in another letter dated March 4, 2019, conveyed the decision of President Buhari to re-appoint him for a second term of four years without considering his age and the Federal Polytechnics Act which was signed into law by Buhari in 2019.
He explained that following complaints from ASUP about the illegality, the four years tenure was abridged to two years, which meant that Dzukogi’s tenure would now end on February 15, 2021, when he clocks the statutory retirement age of 65 years.
Falana, who is the counsel to ASUP, said another letter beyond the rector’s retirement age was given to him. He said the contentious letter was signed by the Director of Tertiary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Samuel Ojo, who also retired from service last month.
Falana said: “Since Dr Abubakar Dzukogi was 63 in June 2019, he ought not to have been re-appointed as the rector because he had only two years left in service.
“In view of the fact that the law has not made provision for two-year tenure for the rector of any Federal Polytechnic in Nigeria, we request you to recommend to the president as the appointing authority to reverse the re-appointment of Dr Dzukogi as the rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Bida.”
In its petitions to the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President and the Attorney-General of the Federation on the issue, ASUP said the rector approached the National Industrial Court in Abuja to vacate the first directive of the education minister to leave office on the attainment of the retirement age of 65 years.
The National President of ASUP, Mr Anderson Ezeibe, who signed the petition and copied the Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), said the reappointment letter to Dzukogi was a clear breach of the Provisions of Section 8 (2) of the Federal Polytechnics (Amendment) Act 2019.
Ezeibe said the new letter did not give any indication of the approval of Buhari neither was it signed by the Minister of Education in contrast to the first one, adding “the letter also runs contrary to the Provision in the Act for a rector to serve for five years.
He appealed for the Justice Minister’s intervention in the direction of observation to due process and rule of law in polytechnics.
ASUP letters said the continued stay in office by the rector after he had voluntarily retired since June 2020 from the service of Federal Polytechnic, Bida was illegal and also an attempt to transmute him as sole administrator which runs contrary to Section 16 (4) of the Polytechnic Act 2019.
The union recalled that the first letter by Adamu conveying Buhari’s approval stated that his reappointment was for two years because of his age.
In its petitions to the Minister, AGF, CoS and HOS, ASUP faulted the second letter of re-appointment by the Director of Tertiary Education, which contradicted Adamu’s earlier letter.
ASUP said Ojo’s letter to Dzukogi, dated June 9, 2020, stated that his reappointment was for four years but with a clause – Ojo asked the rector to retire from the service of Federal Polytechnic Bida and continue in office till 2023.
The union, therefore, called on the authorities concerned to, as a matter of urgency, mandate the retired Rector to vacate the Rector’s office and handover to the most senior Deputy Rector.