As an observer I have been keenly following the trends of discussions especially on the social media about the appointment or reappointment of Dr. Sulaiman Umar as the Acting Rector of Kaduna Polytechnic.
On one side of the divide are those who are in support of the decision and action of the Governing Council of the institution for reappointing him as the Acting Rector; this group is led by the Kaduna Polytechnic Stakeholders Forum and on the other side of the divide are those who are opposed to his appointment or reappointment as the Acting Rector; this group is also led by the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education, Professor Idris Mohammed Bugaje.
However the write-up that drew my attention of recent on the matter is the one written by one Segun Adebayo, Abuja dated 11th May, 2022. His write-up prompted me to to look for the Polytechnic Act, 2019 (as Amended) which is serving as a reference document for both sides of the divide I took my time to peruse the document with due diligence I found out that there are misrepresentation of facts on some of the issues he raised I felt it necessary to clarify on those misrepresentation so as not to allow the public to be misled .in fact to my understanding the piece was meant to mislead the public on the true state of affairs in Kaduna Polytechnic vis-à-vis the Polytechnic Act 1979 as amended in 2019. Accordingly, there is need to put the record straight.
Thus, the principal Polytechnic Act of 1979, CAP F17, Laws of Federation 2004 (as amended) categorically endowed the Governing Council with the power of general management of affairs of the Polytechnic to the exclusion of any other person or government agencies including and not limited to the NBTE. (Section 7(1) of the Act). This power was extended to do anything which in the opinion of the Governing Council is calculated to facilitate the carrying out the activities of the polytechnic and promote its best interest.
The above mentioned duties of the Governing Council are statutory and can only be taken away through an amendment of the Act.
There is no doubt that the statutory procedures, being the requisite condition precedent to the appointment of a substantive Rector in Kaduna Polytechnic such as the advertisement of a vacancy of the office of the Rector, short-listing of the qualified candidates by the joint Council, Academic Board, Congregation and the Selection Board, examination of the short-listed candidates and recommendation of three of the candidates to the visitor through the Council as provided by section 8 (1-3) of the Polytechnic Act have been fulfilled. What is left is only satisfaction of the provision of section 8 (4) which is the discretion of the President to appoint as Rector of the Polytechnic one of the three candidates recommended to him under Subsection (3) of Section 8 of the Act.
It suffices to state, that at the moment, there is no order of court stalling the recommendation of the Council from being implemented by the President, as the power of the President to appoint one of the three names so recommended to him has no time limit in the Polytechnic Act. Similarly the pendency of the suit being instituted by one of the applicants for the post of the Rector, who in the opinion of the Joint Council and Selection Board Committee was not qualified to be shortlisted for the interview was never and can never be a factor in the appointment of an Acting Rector of the Polytechnic and has no nexus what so ever with reappointment of an Acting Rector of the Polytechnic.
The suit before the Industrial Court borders on whether the claimant therein was properly excluded from the list of the successful applicants invited for the interview for the Rector of Kaduna Polytechnic or not. The issue of appointing or reappointing an Acting Rector of the Polytechnic is never an issue before the Industrial Court sitting in Kaduna or before any other court, and that the issue cannot be smuggled into the ongoing suit through a media application for joinder.
The letter of 17th November, 2021 by the Executive Secretary of the NBTE was an administrative letter to the Minister of Education which is a mere advisory opinion of the Executive Secretary of the NBTE, who has no legal, statutory and administrative roles to play in the appointment of the Rector of the Polytechnic either as substantive or in acting capacity.
The situation in the Polytechnic is currently calm and peaceful with maximum cooperation and understanding between the management on one hand and the academic and non-academic staff of the polytechnic on the other hand.
It is pertinent to distinguish between the imports and intendments of section 8 and section 16 of the amended polytechnic Act wherein section 8 addresses vacancy of the office of Rector as a result of effusion of time or resignation and section 16 which addresses vacancy in event of removal from office which is not the case in this instance.
The Governing Council should be left alone by the NBTE to freely performs its statutory duties without interference, particularly, when the Council is not in any way answerable to the NBTE and its management. The statutory functions of NBTE in the polytechnic sector is limited and restricted to regulatory in nature relating to the academic programmes of the polytechnic and NOT meddlesomeness or interference in the internal administration and management of the polytechnic which are exclusively preserved for the Governing Council.
On this note I will call on the Federal Ministry of Education to expedite action to ensure that Mr President approves the recommendation of the Governing Council for the appointment of a substantive Rector for Kaduna Polytechnic The continuous delay in taking action is giving room to mischievous elements to continue to distort facts with a view to creating disaffection among staff and students thereby threatening the peace and stability in the institution.
Mr. Emmanuel Joseph ,Public Commentator/Analyst Writes from Abuja