The Academic Staff Union of Universities, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi branch, has said that it remains unconvinced of the uprightness in the appointment of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Pantami, as a Professor at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo state.
The Chairperson of ASUU, ATBU branch, Ibrahim Inuwa, mentioned this to newsmen on Thursday.
ATBU is Pantami’s alma mater, as well as where he started his career as a lecturer.
However, Inuwa that he had no part in the congratulatory message sent to Pantami by the institution’s management and that the minister’s appointment is controversial.
He said, “Our congress felt the need to act, and what really informed our acting was the congratulatory letter sent to the Minister by our own Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abdulazeez Muhammad. We felt we were not carried along.
“In that letter, he said that on behalf of the staff, students, the Senate of the university; he said he was congratulating the Minister. We are not involved and that appointment is shrouded in a lot of controversies.
“We feel we are an institution that commands respect and what must be done right, and we are not really convinced of the uprightness of that appointment. We held a congress on November 4, 2021, and we had a resolution from the Congress that we should dissociate ourselves from that congratulatory message sent to the Minister, we were mandated to do that.”]
The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Mohammad Abdulaziz, had in a letter he wrote on behalf of management, staff and students of School, congratulated Pantami.
Reading the resolution of the Congress entitled ‘Disclaimer on the Vice-Chancellor of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi’s congratulatory letter to Dr Isa Ali Pantami, on his appointment to the rank of Professor’, Inuwa said the union was not consulted.
He described the move as “appalling”, saying the Union was not a part of it and was dissociating itself.
The resolution stated, “The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), ATBU Bauchi branch, wishes to unequivocally state that on no occasion did the critical stakeholders such as the Senate and the congregation of ATBU, Bauchi consulted for such congratulatory letter despite the controversies surrounding the appointment.
“It is indeed appalling that the VC used such a fiat on the university community. It is in view of this that the Congress of ASUU, ATBU, Bauchi resolved that it is not a party to such decision and has absolved itself from attempts to smear the corporate image of the university, the citadel of learning and ASUU, ATBU Bauchi. It is our affirmation that we are not a party to such decision by the Vice-Chancellor of ATBU.”
The ASUU Chairperson said that the report of the Union in Federal University of Technology, Owerri was surrounded by “a lot of holes.”Inuwa said, “If you look at the report, it does not follow the character and manner that ASUU does things. Though an investigation is still going on, the Zone has yet to state their position at the NEC. We will be having a NEC meeting on the 14th.”
According to him, the Union is not convinced that all the procedures of becoming a professor were exhausted.
“Appointing somebody to the rank of professor follows some procedures, to some extent we are convinced that these procedures are exhaustively followed, it is still questionable. But if it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, we don’t have an option other than to acknowledge it but for now, we are not convinced,” he stated.
The Union argued that according to information available to it, the minister left Nigeria for a varsity in Saudi Arabia as a senior lecturer.
“In the case of the Minister, his last appointment in a university was in Saudi Arabia as an assistant professor, which is a nomenclature that is used by the Americans. Assistant professor is equivalent to a senior lecturer in Commonwealth countries.
“As a senior lecturer, you are supposed to satisfy a waiting period of three years. You must have some publications locally and internationally. One must have attended conferences and presented papers, one must have been involved in teaching undergraduates and postgraduates –depending on the conditions of service of a university to become an associate professor (reader).
“What we heard about the Minister is that he’s an assistant professor. The year he left for Saudi Arabia, he claimed that he’s an associate professor, that he applied to them as an associate professor but unfortunately, when they were referring people to check his publications online, he forgot to remove a journal that captured him as an assistant professor.”
Inuwa added that teaching quality and style were part of the assessment required to rise to a professorial rank.
He said that the minister was not in the academic environment during the period and could not have been qualified for the appointment.