There is imbroglio 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.
Our source 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.
Our grapevine 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.
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