By Balkis Tijani
The appointment of a new vice chancellor for the State-owned university, Kwara State University(KWASU) has generated a lot of controversy recently; with the increasing interest from stakeholders, including lecturers and students of the institution, resulting in an eventual close down of the school.
However, INSIDER has learnt of the game of wits and under dealings that culminate in the present crisis surrounding the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor as the incumbent exits the office in July.
According to a usually reliable source close to the State governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed; the whole issue began to take a worrying dimension when the governor made the move to have Mr. Murtala Awodun, currently the Chairman of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, as the new VC of the institution.
“When the governor learnt of the advertorial placed by the Governing Council of KWASU seeking to recruit a new vice chancellor for the university, he studied it and when he discovered that the criteria set were not favorable to Mr. Awodun, his preferred candidate, he had to make a move.
” He personally drove himself to the house of the Chairman of the governing council to reason with him and get him to re-do the advert in a way that the council will be silent on the requirement stipulating that a would be VC in KWASU must have been a Professor for at least five years. Awodun has not met this condition as his professorship is not up to a year”.
Our source, who did not want his name mentioned owing to the sensitive nature of the issue, said the Chairman of the governing council, Professor Nuru, refused the governor’s demand that the advert for the VC recruitment be done a second time to favour his candidate.
“When Gov. Fatai insisted on having his way, the professor heading the council agreed to do the advert a second time. But to our surprise, the second advert also carried the same five-year requirement the governor wants removed. So it was after his move to influence the governing council failed that the governor had to result to the plan B of appointing a Ag. VC”, the source said.
When our correspondent reached out to Prof. Nuru to verify this story, he refused to deny or confirm it, saying he “did not want to talk to the press about KWASU for now”.
It would however be recalled that Governor Ahmed had sometime in March, through a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity, Dr. Muideen Akorede, denied any attempts on his part to influence the choice of a new VC for KWASU.
” It’s entirely the prerogative of the Kwara State University’s (KWASU) Governing Council to recruit a new Vice Chancellor as the incumbent’s tenure expires. Social media claims that the governor attempted to tele-guide the selection process of a new Chief Executive for KWASU in favour of particular candidates are completely untrue”, Akorede said in a statement.
However, a number of key stakeholders in the matter still believe the governor is not entirely sincere. In a public statement on the issue by the Ilorin Emirates Descendants Progressives Union (IEDPU), the President of the association, Alhaji Yahaya Ahmed, said the governor is desperate to achieve a predetermined end and therefore appointed a Ag. VC in bad faith.
Part of the statement read, “We have equally noticed that the administration of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed appeared to be too desperate in making sure that a particular candidate emerges as the next Vice Chancellor of the University, not minding the thinking, positions and and assessment of the dully constituted Governing Council invested with the authority to oversea and recommend worthy candidates for the position to the Visitor of the University”.
A lecturer of the Kwara State University who asked not to be named also said the whole process of appointing a new VC for the institution glaringly indicate a biased interest on the part of the governor.
” If the governor says he is not interested in who becomes the new VC, how come the telltale signs indicate otherwise. As the employer of the incumbent VC, is it right for him to issue the Vice Chancellor, a civil servant, a directive to proceed on leave through a public statement? As at the time they were instructing Na’allah to proceed on leave, there was no official correspondence to him in that regard. In fact, the was in Ghana as the time they were asking him to proceed on terminal leave. The desperation on the part of the government is so obvious, and it must have been responsible for their lack of discretion on the matter”.
Attempts to reach the outgoing vice chancellor, Professor Rasheed Na’allah for comments were unsuccessful, as the many repeated calls made to his known mobile number did not connect.