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Leadership crisis at ABU over Vice-Chancellor’s tenure

* Council asks VC to leave; ‘I won’t go anywhere,’ Prof. Garba replies

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Crisis is reportedly brewing at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, in Kaduna State. The negative development follows the directive of the Governing Council of the first-generation University in Nigeria to Prof. Ibrahim Garba, outgoing Vice-Chancellor (VC), to proceed on a terminal leave.

Daily Trust reports that Prof. Garba’s tenure expires on April 30, 2020, and the directive by the Council for him to leave ahead of his time is certainly generating tension in the University community.

However, the embattled VC recently told the source that if the directive for him to leave was advisory, he was not willing to go until the end of his stipulated five years in office.

In view of the confusing scenario in the academic institution over Garba’s tenure as the Vice-Chancellor, CosumerConnect learnt that ABU Alumni Association has intervened in the matter.

The Association reportedly, has said that there is no law that prescribes terminal leave for Vice-Chancellors, and asked the University Council to overturn the decision.

It is recalled that Prof. Kabir Bala, a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) of ABU, was appointed as the new Vice-Chancellor of the institution in January 2020.

But, he is to resume office on May 1.

As regards how Prof. Garba was asked to leave office as ABU VC, a letter to the outgoing Vice-Chancellor dated February 7, signed by A. A. Kundila, Registrar of ABU, and Malam Adamu Fika (Wazirin Fika), Chairman of Governing Council, had directed Prof. Garba to proceed on terminal leave with effect from March 1, 2020.

The report stated that the letter which was copied Malam Adamu Adamu, Honourable Minister for Education; Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC); Inspector-General of Police; and Director, Department of State Service, among others, asked Garba to handover leadership of the university to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

Daily Trust reports that the two-paragraph reads: “At the 190th (emergency) meeting of the Governing Council of the university held on Thursday, 6 February, 2020, Council resolved and directed that you should proceed on terminal leave from 1 March, 2020. “You are to handover the instruments of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor to Prof. D. A. Ameh, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) who will manage the affairs of the university until the new Vice-Chancellor assumes duty on 1 May, 2020.”

Besides, it was also gathered that the Council also resolved to review all appointments and employments the outgoing VC made from October 2019 to date.

However, the ABU Alumni Association, led by Prof. Ahmed Tijjani Mora, has opposed the Council’s decision.

In the interest of justice, according to them, Prof. Garba, the outgoing Vice-Chancellor should be allowed to exhaust his five-year tenure which ends in May 2020.

Similarly, in a letter to Malam Adamu Fika, copied the Minister for Education and others dated February 7, Prof. Mora, had said: “I wish to most respectfully refer the Chairman to the deliberations of the 190th (emergency) meeting of the Governing Council of ABU, Zaria, which I was invited to attend.

“It would be recalled that there was no agenda indicated in the notice of the meeting and which myself, the vice-chancellor, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the university and other members, only got to know of four days earlier.

“Be that as it was, members turned up for the meeting except two (2), one of whom was the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba, whom the Council was reliably informed by the Registrar and Secretary of the Council was indeed in Abuja, the nation’s capital on a national assignment.

“Why the secretary failed to advise the chairman of the unlikelihood of the vice-chancellor to attend the emergency meeting and to propose for another date when the vice-chancellor would be available, only he, the registrar can explain…

“The chairman is a seasoned and experienced public officer as well as a highly respected national figure, and who, in his wisdom, revealed to the Council some infractions allegedly committed by the Vice-Chancellor, which appeared to have gone contrary to established norms or Standard Operations Procedure of the university.

“Unfortunately, members were not obliged documents indicating such infractions allegedly committed by the Vice-Chancellor, nor any letter by the chairman of the council or the council drawing the attention of the Vice-Chancellor to such.

“A staff member cannot be forced to undertake his/her annual leave. If deferred, such staff member can only enjoy such leave at the time of his/her choice.

“To force the Vice-Chancellor to proceed on terminal leave with only 84 days to go at the end of his five-year tenure, I argued would give the negative impression that the Vice-Chancellor was being punished,” Prof. Mora said.

He also called on Malam Fika to allow VC to conclude his tenure and also dismiss the allegations of infractions levelled against him.

On why the Council asked Prof. Garba to go, Wazirin Fika, the Pro-chancellor said it was based on some reasons.

He, however, said he was not ready to make them public.

“The Council took the decision and it has been implemented,” Fika said.

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