Pro-Chancellors: It is illegal to dissolve an institution’s governing body indiscriminately

The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities has urged university stakeholders to work together to address challenges facing the sector.

Senator Joshua Lidani, Chairman of COPSUN, made this statement in Lagos on Tuesday during the opening ceremony of the seventh biennial conference of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities in Nigeria.

The conference theme was “Effective University Governance: The Role of Stakeholders.”

Lidani, who is also the Pro-Chancellor of Gombe State University, stated that the theme addresses a variety of governance challenges inside the university system.

He listed various issues now affecting the university and tertiary education sectors, including corruption, impersonation, irregular exam centres, inadequate funding, and the proliferation of universities.

Additionally, he expressed concerns about the discriminatory and premature dissolution of governing councils and boards of tertiary educational institutions, along with delays in their reconstitution.

“The indiscriminate and premature dissolution of governing councils and boards of tertiary educational institutions, coupled with delays in their reconstitution, not only constitute illegal acts but also create significant administrative vacuums that lead to various anomalies. The incessant strike actions by ASUU and other labour unions have had profound consequences on stability, quality, and standards. The proliferation of universities and inadequate funding further exacerbate these challenges.

“While this conference alone may not fully resolve these issues, it serves to raise public awareness about the threats posed to good governance, standards, and quality within the tertiary educational system. It is imperative for stakeholders to recognize the depth of these problems. Failing to address them promptly could lead to the deterioration of our education system, undermining trust from other nations. The sooner we acknowledge and resolve these challenges, the better.

“I have no doubt that this conference can chart a path forward and provide guidance on how stakeholders can effectively contribute to enhancing educational standards in the country,” he said.

Professor Ibrahim Gambari, chairman of the opening ceremony and former Chief of Staff to ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, urged the pro-chancellors to develop action plans to lift their institutions to the level of competency and attractiveness exhibited in federal and private universities.

Gambari claimed that by doing so, universities would retain top academics and staff, recruiting the best students from a pool of qualified candidates.

“State-owned universities should strategically carve out specific niches that leverage their unique comparative advantages to enhance their position in the educational landscape.

“Successfully achieving this establishes a foundation for creating and gaining recognition for their brand,” he said.

Professor Nuhu Yaqub gave the keynote address.

Emeritus Prof. Julius Okojie also spoke about the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership among Vice-Chancellors of universities.

He suggested that effective university governance might be accomplished through productive collaboration among stakeholders.

The national planning committee was chaired by Prof. Deji Omole, while the local planning committee was chaired by Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University, Ojo.

The conference will conclude on July 12, 2024.