By Kofoworola Belo-Osagie and Damola Kola-Dare
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Federal Polytechnic, Bida branch on Tuesday faulted the conversion of the institution’s rector to sole administrator by the Federal Government.
ASUP in statement signed by its Zonal Coordinator (ASUP Zone A), Dr. Kasim Ibrahim, said the conversion of the Rector, Dr. Abubakar Dzukogi to sole administrator was against the Polytechnic Act of 2019.
Dzukogi completed his first tenure of four years in May 2019 and was re-appointed for another four years even though he was due to retire less than two years later at the age of 65. He had been directed by the Federal Ministry of Education to retire voluntarily in June 2020 despite continuing as rector.
The union had faulted the Federal Government’s move to reappointment him – disregarding the guideline for appointing rectors, provosts and vice chancellors that those appointed should not be above 55 years of age.
Dzukogi retired on February 15, 2021, after attaining the retirement age of 65. ASUP is insisting that his tenure of Dzukogi ended on Sunday accordingly.
However, the management of the Polytechnic said those agitating for the appointment of a new rector after February 15 were doing so out of mischief, saying that Dzukogi’s tenure as the sole administrator would end in 2022.
ASUP said it was forced to express displeasure on Dzukogi’s reappointment for four more years when it was clear that he had less than four years before retirement.
“We consider this not only as aberration but an error of commitment perpetuated against the spirit and letter of the Polytechnic Act.”
According to the him, Section 8, subsection 2a1 of the Act stipulates that “qualifications of the persons who may apply for the post, shall be a Chief Lecturer in the polytechnic sector”.
It further observed that Section 14, subsection 4 which provides for the retirement, clearly states that “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Pensions Reform Act, the compulsory retirement age of staff of the polytechnic shall be 65 years and Section 16, subsection 4 states that ‘there shall be no sole administrator in any polytechnic in Nigeria’.
ASUP said the Federal Ministry of Education argued and presented a circular HCSF/EMS/EIR/ BENEFICIARY. 636994/IV/T2/96 in 2009 from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation as superior to the Federal Polytechnic Act assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
“It is unimaginable that a circular (policy) can replace an Act (law of the land), if not that corruption is at work in the Federal Ministry of Education, “ the union stated.
The ASUP branch said Dzukogi’s stay in office when he ceased to be a staff of the polytechnic on June 9, 2020 via a retirement letter dated June 10, 2020 based on the directive of the Federal Ministry of Education contravened the Poly Act.
Dzukogi, the union said clocked 65 years on February 15, 2021, by which age, he ought to have retired as was the case of the Executive Secretary, National Board for Technical Education, and many rectors as well as chief lecturers.
The union explained that the Ministry of Education had not provided the new nomenclature in the system to recognise Dr Dzukogi as head of the institution after his voluntary retirement.
Ibrahim urged stakeholders in the education sector to persuade the Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to correct the anomaly.
He also advised the Head of Service of the Federation to rise in defense of Civil Service rules that is being trampled upon by this singular action of the ministry.
The branch chairman asked the minister to direct Dzukogi to immediately vacate the office of the rector and an acting rector appointed.
Ibrahim urged the minister to put in place mechanism for the appointment of a new substantive rector in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Polytechnic Act 2019.
Refuting ASUP’s claim, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education Abuja, Mr. Sonny Echono, said Dzukogi’s appointment followed the law.
“He was appointed for a second and final term by the President in accordance with the law. He had to retire so as to take up the tenured appointment required by the polytechnics amended Act. They are fighting him because he got the upper hand in court against them.Their petitions to the Villa, Head of Service and the Ministry have all failed,” he said.RESPONSIVE IN-ARTICLE