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Selection Of ABU VC: Need For Level Playing Ground



The process of selecting a new Vice Chancellor for Ahmadu Bello University (ABU)  Zaria has begun with intrigues and power play. The ABU Governing Council on January 7, 2020, considered a list of 18 professors for selection into the position of the university’s Vice Chancellor that will become vacant on April 30 this year, when the tenure of the current Vice Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, comes to an end. The opening of applications and the consideration of the submission of the search team kick-started the official selection process of the next university’s Vice Chancellor.

The crux of the matter is that some council members and stakeholders are bent on breaching due process and compromising the integrity and impartiality of the selection process. Unfortunately, this ought not to be the case; there should be a level playing ground for all candidates to participate in a transparent process that will lead to the emergence of a credible candidate. Any move, aimed towards a predetermined selection of a particular candidate of any interest, can portend danger and threat to the peace, security and progress which ABU has enjoyed in recent years.

Interestingly, out of the 18 professors considered by the Council, eight applied, while ten were headhunted. Those that applied include Professors Lawal Saidu, Veterinary Medicine; Doknan Decent Danjuma Shemi, from Jos; Musa Hassan, Pharmacy; Sadiq Zubairu Abubakar, NAERLS; Ezzedeen M. Abdulrahman, Pharmacy; Abdullahi Mohammed, Pathology; Kabiru Bala, Building and Zakari Mohammed, Library Science. While those that were headhunted are Professors Kabir Sabitu; Isa Marte Hussaini; Abdullahi A. Umar; Ibrahim Musa Umar; Abubakar Sani Sambo; Shafi’u Abdullahi; Ibrahim Mu’uta; Idris Isa Funtua; Sani Ahmed Miko and Nuhu Mohammed Jamo.

An ABU Vice Chancellor requires a lot of experience, competence and other virtues for successful management. This is why the Council, by tradition, focuses more attention on academic prowess and high moral standing, managerial and administrative experience within and outside the university, amiability, sociability and good human relations as well as acceptability to the community.

It was against this backdrop that the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, was compelled to write the Honourable Minister of Education, Adamu  Adamu, last week, on the potential danger that the negative tendencies of some council members portend to the peace and progress of the university. The letter emphasised the need for every interested candidate to be given a level playing ground to participate.

Part of the letter reads, “During the 187th Council meeting of 3rd December, 2019, the chairman, Malam Adamu Fika, did not want to carry the Council along in the process and procedure of the selection board which he also chairs. After being prompted by some members of the need to get Council approval of whatever criteria the selection board has drafted, he vehemently refused and said the selection board would develop its criteria and go ahead to assess the candidates without recourse to the Council.”

This clearly contradicts the due process where the Council reserves the right to approve any criteria to be used in assessing the applicants in the same manner the Council approved the content of the advertisement on the position of the university’s Vice Chancellor.

It was learnt also that during the same Council meeting, the registrar, who is the secretary to the selection board and also to the Council, presented the scoring template used in the previous exercises. The chairman reportedly threw it back at him.

Now that the scheduled interview of candidates is just a week away, there should be room for fairness, transparency and a level playing ground. No particular candidate should be favoured above others. This is why it is  wrong for the Council chairman to insist that the selection board would interview the candidate in a week’s time and bring three names to Council for the final selection; a criteria that are alien and unknown to the Council. It totally lacks the transparency and integrity needed of such process.

Finally, it is high time the federal government and all key holders intervened with a view to preventing a recurrence of an ugly experience of the past. Lest we forget, similar tendencies had brought rancour and instability to ABU in the past. The time to act in order to save ABU is now.


-Ali Kano is a PhD student of Policy and Development Studies, ABU, Zaria