Fed Poly Nasarawa: A ship with two cap­tains?

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - From Hir Joseph, Lafia

There is trou­ble at the Federal Polytech­nic, Nasarawa. For the sec­ond time since Fe­bru­ary, the Reg­is­trar of the Nasarawa State based in­sti­tu­tion wrote the act­ing Rec­tor to hand over to a sub­stan­tive Rec­tor but he re­fused.

In his re­ply to the letters, the last of which was writ­ten penul­ti­mate week, the act­ing Rec­tor told the Reg­is­trar that he will only re­lin­quish his po­si­tion when he sees a let­ter from ei­ther Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan or the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, re­quest­ing him to do so and an­nounc­ing to the school the ap­point­ment of a new Rec­tor.

In ef­fect, there­fore, there are now two per­son­al­i­ties pre­sid­ing over the in­sti­tu­tion: the first was ap­pointed in act­ing ca­pac­ity by the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil, with the ap­proval of both Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan and the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter; the sec­ond was ap­pointed as sub­stan­tive Rec­tor via in a let­ter signed by the Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry, with the ap­proval of the min­is­ter.

In the be­gin­ning

Dr Pius Otaru Salami com­pleted his ten­ure as Rec­tor early this year. In Au­gust, last year, the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil, led by Se­na­tor Dipo Odun­jun­rin, started the prepa­ra­tion for the ap­point­ment of a new Rec­tor to take over from Salami.

A va­cancy an­nounce­ment for the post of the Rec­tor was viewed by some as an at­tempt to deny Nasarawa State in­di­genes the op­por­tu­nity to, for the first time in the al­most 30 years his­tory of the polytech­nic, head the in­sti­tu­tion.

The va­cancy an­nounce­ment and the qual­i­fi­ca­tion sought by the polytech­nic gen­er­ated heat be­tween the host com­mu­nity and the man­age­ment.

The com­mu­nity ac­cused the man­age­ment of plots to scheme out in­di­genes with the qual­i­fi­ca­tion to fill the va­cant post, al­leg­ing that the ad­ver­to­rial car­ried then was skewed to shut out their people in favour of cer­tain in­ter­ests who have held sway at the polytech­nic since 1981 when the in­sti­tu­tion was es­tab­lished.

The in­di­genes said the ad­ver­to­rial did not get the ap­proval of the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil of the school, just as they said the guide­lines were flouted.

The spokesper­son of the in­sti­tu­tion, Mrs. To­nia James, ad­mit­ted that the va­cancy an­nounce­ment was made con­trary to the guide­lines. Ac­cord­ingly, a cor­rec­tion was ef­fected in an ad­den­dum car­ried on the va­cancy an­nounce­ment.

Ap­point­ment of act­ing Rec­tor

On Jan­uary 31, 2014 the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil of the polytech­nic and the man­age­ment met and de­cided to ap­point an act­ing Rec­tor to take over from Salami, pend­ing the ap­point­ment of a sub­stan­tive Rec­tor by the Pres­i­dent.

On Fe­bru­ary 3, TPL Shuaibu Madaki was ap­pointed as the act­ing Rec­tor, af­ter a meet­ing of the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil. His let­ter of ap­point­ment was signed by the Reg­is­trar, Mrs. Fati Sabo, on be­half of the Chair­man, Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil.

Salami handed over the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the school to Madaki.

But around Fe­bru­ary 18, the me­dia re­ported Mrs. To­nia James, the polytech­nic’s spokesper­son, an­nounc­ing the ap­point­ment of a sub­stan­tive rec­tor in the per­son of Dr. Shet­tima Ab­dulka­dir Sa’idu.

The spokesper­son also said the new Rec­tor has pro­ceeded to take over at the polytech­nic. The re­ports said the new Rec­tor thanked Pres­i­dent Jonathan for find­ing him wor­thy of the ap­point­ment, pledg­ing to lead the in­sti­tu­tion to suc­cess.

The an­nounce­ment at­tracted the ire of some stake­hold­ers who ques­tioned its au­then­tic­ity, set­ting the stage for the lead­er­ship cri­sis in the polytech­nic.

Daily Trust learnt that Saidu’s ap­point­ment was made on Jan­uary 31, four days be­fore the ap­point­ment of Madaki as act­ing Rec­tor. On the same Jan­uary 31, the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil ap­proved the ap­point­ment of the act­ing Rec­tor.

“First of all, ac­cord­ing to his let­ter of ap­point­ment, Dr. Sa’idu was ap­pointed on Jan­uary 31, while the act­ing Rec­tor was an­nounced on Fe­bru­ary 3, mak­ing one to won­der why govern­ment needed to ap­point and an­nounce an act­ing Rec­tor if there was one ap­point­ment three days ear­lier,” a news re­port re­cently quoted a highly placed staff of the polytech­nic as say­ing.

But the re­port quoted Ha­jiya Hin­datu Ab­dul­lahi, a Di­rec­tor of Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, as say­ing that Saidu’s ap­point­ment was au­then­tic and that she signed the ap­point­ment let­ter of Sa’idu.

She said: “The let­ter I signed for the po­si­tion of Rec­tor of Federal Polytech­nic, Nasarawa, bears the name of Dr. Shet­tima Ab­dulka­dir Sa’idu. Any other claim on the con­trary is that of an im­pos­tor.”

Min­istry and coun­cil keep quiet as hand over drags

Mean­while, Madaki re­fused to hand over to Saidu, al­most two months af­ter the for­mer as­sumed of­fice as sub­stan­tive rec­tor. But the min­istry, which con­firmed that it signed the ap­point­ment of Sa’idu, keeps sealed lips, and has not in­ter­vened to save the in­sti­tu­tion from the lead­er­ship cri­sis which has now di­vided the loy­alty of staff be­tween the two dis­put­ing heads, just as the coun­cil, too, watches.

Daily Trust vis­ited the in­sti­tu­tion twice and ob­tained some documents.

First, there is a let­ter dated Fe­bru­ary 21, 2014 and signed by the Reg­is­trar, Mrs. Sabo, on the di­rec­tive of the Chair­man of the Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil. The let­ter, ad­dressed to Madaki as act­ing Rec­tor, asked him to hand over to Saidu.

Madaki replied this let­ter, tersely, say­ing... “Fur­ther to this, I am pre­par­ing my hand over.”

But the han­dover has re­fused to come, com­pelling the Reg­is­trar to write again, on March 11, based on the di­rec­tive of a body she called “Top Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee (TMC) of the Polytech­nic.” The Reg­is­trar’s lat­est let­ter also re­ferred to Madaki as “Deputy Rec­tor”, and not act­ing Rec­tor, as her pre­vi­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­dressed him.

The let­ter said a meet­ing of the said TMC “ob­served that you are yet to han­dover de­spite ear­lier di­rec­tive” to do so by the coun­cil, adding that in “view of this, I am di­rected to ask you to han­dover with­out fur­ther de­lay.”

In his re­ply to the reg­is­trar on March 13, Madaki stated “that I am cur­rently the act­ing Rec­tor and noth­ing less than that. (Re­fer to your cor­re­spon­dence dated 31st Jan­uary, 2014, ap­point­ing me to this po­si­tion).”

Mean­while, in­quiries showed that since the as­sump­tion of Sa’idu, the sig­na­to­ries for the polytech­nic ac­counts with United Bank for Africa (UBA) have been changed, and some with­drawals al­ready made.

Con­tacted for her re­ac­tions, the polytech­nic’s spokesper­son de­clined of­fi­cial com­ments on all mat­ters in­clud­ing the al­leged with­drawals made from the school’s ac­counts. The rec­tor’s phone num­ber, made avail­able by the spokesper­son, was switched off.

When con­tacted, Mr. Simeon Nwakaudu, me­dia aide to the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Nye­som Wike, con­firmed the ap­point­ment of Sa’idu as the au­then­tic reg­is­trar of the in­sti­tu­tion.

En­trance of the Federal Polytech­nic Nasarawa

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