Eight vie for UNICAL’s vice chancellorship position

University-of-CalabarAbout eight professors are jostling to succeed outgoing vice chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. James Epoke. To qualify to contest, the recently dissolved governing council narrowed down the minimum number of years the contestants must have served as professors from 10 to seven.

The aspirants are the immediate past Education Commissioner in the state and lecturer in the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Prof. Offiong Offiong; former Dean of Faculty of Arts, Prof. Francis Unimna, incumbent Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) Prof. Zana Akpagu; Dean, Faculty of Social Science, Prof. Eugene Ania; former Dean of Graduate School; Prof. Francis Bisong; immediate past Dean, Faculty of Allied Medical Science, Prof. Ann Asuquo and Dean, Faculty of Education, Prof. Florence Obi. The aspirants hail from the three senatorial zones of the state.

Be that as it may, the decision of the out gone council to slash the number of years applicants must have served as professors, is creating serious ripples in the university, as some of the aspirants with 10 years (and above) of experience have accused Epoke and the dissolved council of shifting the goal post to favour a particular candidate.

They also accuse the out gone council of insincerity. When Epoke contested for the position five years ago, the benchmark was seven years.

With the ongoing development, it appears like academic excellence and competence may be sacrificed at the altar of ethnic and political sentiments. However, a school of thought believes that the next Vice Chancellor should come from the northern part of the state for equity and fairness to reign.

Former vice chancellors of the school, professors Ivara Ejemot Esu (now deputy governor of the state) and Bassey Asuquo are from the South Senatorial District. Incumbent, Prof. Epoke whose tenure expires in November this year is from Central Senatorial District of the state.

Another school of thought is of the view that such mundane arguments should be discarded in the process of selecting a vice chancellor. It insists that merit, rather than politics and ethnic sentiments should be strictly adhered to.

Epoke, in a chat with newsmen in Calabar, debunked insinuations that he was trying to influence the choice of his successor, insisting that he was never partisan.

He said the university authority merely opened up the competition for the position of the vice chancellor in order to accommodate more qualified aspirants. “It is extremely unfair to say that I am partisan. What council has done is to bring it to a level that everybody can contest.

I have not endorsed anybody; they are all going to face the screening interview. I only opened the landscape to be more accommodating,” he stated.   He described his tenure as vice chancellor as very successful, saying that the university under his leadership, attained higher heights in both academics and infrastructural development as “the university has now moved from 56th to 9th among the best universities in Nigeria. and 43rd in Africa”.

He attributed his success in infrastructural development in the university to the intervention of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and other funding institutions, which the university benefited from.

Epoke stated that his administration “met a landscape with issues of cultism; certificate racketeering; examination malpractices; lack of infrastructure; sales of grades; lack of staff discipline and so on.

But today, we have been able to clear all these problems and I can tell you that, since my assumption we have graduated over 50, 000 students. “We have provided functional classrooms, and our Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre has done very well.

We have a robust website and our online registration is thriving well.” He denied insinuations that he was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying that he was merely invited by the EFCC, following a petition written against him.

He said, “It is not true that I was arrested by the EFCC rather I was invited because of a petition, which I did not see. I was asked about some things which I knew nothing about.

And I also declared my assets. I was never detained.” Meanwhile, the search for a new vice chancellor for Bayero University, Kano (BUK), has taken a dramatic turn as members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (NASU) of the university are now divided over the choice of candidates.

The new vice chancellor is expected to emerge in the next few days as the governing council is expected appoint one of the three candidates recommended to it by the selection board, on or before Friday July 24th. Incumbent helmsman, Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed’s tenure terminates August 16th and the new VC is expected to assume office the following day.

The Guardian reliably gathered that a strong faction emerged within ASUU to oppose the resolution of the union’s leadership, which they alleged has been compromised.

Nine candidates already shortlisted for the BUK top job, Tuesday faced the university’s congress in an attempt to sell their competence, track record and lay out their plans for the university.

After series of consultations, SSANU members failed to reach an agreement regarding whom to give their support to. Consequently, they were asked to pitch tenth with any of the candidates they were convinced would work towards ameliorating their plight.

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