THE SACKING OF KADPOLY RECTOR:
Kaduna Polytechnic (KADPOLY) was in the news for the better part of this year, because the management and the council of the institution failed to discharge their duties responsibly.
The rot in the institution, Daily Sun learnt, did not start with the recently dissolved Governing Council, led by Senator U. U. Dukku, but it however started with the appointment of the recently sacked rector of the institution, Dr. Danjuma Isa. Isa was made a substantive rector in a controversial circumstance in October, 2003, after acting for about nine months.
His appointment came to many as a surprise because his name did not feature among the first three candidates shortlisted for the job, out of the several others that applied to be Kadpoly rector.
Interestingly, his reappointment in 2007 for a second term, Daily Sun gathered authoritatively, had neither the ratification of the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, nor the backing of then minister for education.
Isa's reappointment was said to have been facilitated through the office of the former First Lady, Tura'i Yar'Adua, by one of her personal aides, who incidentally was on seconding from Kadpoly.
Daily Sun further learnt that if the rector's reappointment had been halted, the institution would have been saved another four years of crisis witnessed under the sacked rector, Isa.
The six-month strike, which was recently called off after the sacking of the entire management and the Governing Council of the institution, by the education minister, was separately embarked on by both the academic and non-academic staff of the institution. Before the latest strike, the lecturers had embarked on strike twice in 2010, for the same reason for the recently called-off strike was embarked on.
Genesis of the strike
It all started like a joke. Some even thought that within a short time the strike would end and usual and normal academic activities would resume. But the people were disappointed as the striking staff refused to return to work against the intimidation and threat from the management of the institution to sack the entire lecturers.
While members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Kaduna Polytechnic chapter, were asking for payment of all their outstanding allowances and refund of deduction of taxes from their salaries over the years, including the sacking of the rector, the non academic and senior staff were calling for the removal of the rector for alleged 'ineptitude and bad leadership.'
The Chairman of the union, Mustapha Yahya Bida, had during the struggle, led one of the protests at the Tudun Wada main campus of the Polytechnic where he openly accused the rector of financial recklessness.
The protesting staff had carried placards bearing inscriptions such as, 'The Rector, Danjuma Isa must go,' 'Kadpoly has failed, pay us our allowances,' 'we pass vote of no confidence on the rector,' 'Kadpoly governing body has failed us,' 'squanderer of Kadpoly resources must go,' among others.
The ASUP chairman had said the academic staff were also embarrassed when they discovered that all the tax deductions from their salaries had not been remitted to the board of internal revenue over the years.
He, therefore, warned the management of the institution to stop further deduction of taxes from their salaries until the previous ones were remitted to the appropriate quarters. After persistent demand for the removal of the rector by the then striking staff, the education minister, Professor Ruqqayatu Ahmed Rufa'i, sent an eight-man ministerial visitation panel, led by Professor A. I. Essien, in January to look into the crisis.
The investigative panel report
And by March, the panel submitted its report. Although the report was not made public, Daily Sun gathered that the report indicted both the rector and the Governing Council of the institution.
For instance, the panel returned a verdict of 'inept and complacent' council on the part of the Governing Council while the rector was accused of running the institution like a 'personal estate', having concentrated all management activities, including 'procurement, staff development and maintenance of the institution,' in his office, thus confirming the allegation of nepotism, favouritism in promotion and award of contracts without following due process, by ASUP against the rector. And in view of its findings, the panel was said to have recommended the immediate sack of the rector and dissolution of the council.
Similarly, the panel also recommended that the rector's deputies be relieved of their appointments, and be returned to the lecture halls while the registrar too should be sent packing. The bursar who had been on suspension before then, was to remain on compulsory leave until an external audit panel, which the visitation panel recommended should look into the finances of the institution, from 2005 to date, submits its report.
Once the panel submitted its report, Daily Sun further learnt that a white paper was issued, with President Goodluck Jonathan approving of same, but the recommendations were reportedly not carried out, before the last dissolution of the federal cabinet by President Jonathan.
Pressure from ASUP and students
Rather than implement the recommendations wholesale, the rector was asked to proceed on compulsory leave. And before leaving, he singlehandedly, it was alleged, appointed one Mrs. Yohanna Mivaryi, to oversee the affairs of the institution in his absence.
And since Mrs. Mivaryi's tenure was more like an extension of Isa's reign, she continued from where Isa stopped by threatening to sack all lecturers, including attempting to implement the 'no-work, no-pay rule.'
'In fact, they were planning to advertise the positions of all the lecturers as being vacant, before reason was allowed to prevail,' one of the lecturers told Daily Sun. 'You know it was under her too they announced the unilateral proscription of ASUP, and opened a register for our members to resume work and come and sign. It was under her too, they tried to use fictitious names, as lecturers, just to polarize our union. But all their antics failed.'
In spite of all these, ASUP stuck to its guns, thus forcing students of the Polytechnic to mobilise and seal off the main campus of the institution sometime in early June, giving the federal government 48-hour ultimatum to take action on the face-off between the academic staff and management of the polytechnic and ensure immediate commencement of academic activities or expect the worst from them.
Their protest, it was gathered, hinged on the seeming refusal of the Federal Government to release the white paper from of the panel that investigated the various allegations leveled against the sacked rector.
To this end, the students blamed the Federal Government for the long drawn strike embarked on by ASUP with a threat to mobilise 20,000 of them to storm Abuja, should the Federal Government fail to resolve the matter. Salawudin A. Lukman, spoke on behalf of the Concerned Students of Kaduna Polytechnic.
Following the students' peaceful protest, the Kaduna state Governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, appealed to the Governing Council of the Polytechnic to re-open the school and continue with the normal academic activities.
The appeal, which was contained in a press statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the governor, Reuben Buhari, said the Governing Council should in all urgency; re-open the school, pending the approval and release of the White Paper by the Federal Government on the crisis in the institution.
According to the statement, the governor's appeal was a fallout of the state's security council meeting, which met and deliberated on the implications of the continued strike, vis-Ã -vis the students' protest in the face of the fragile peace in the state, following the April post -election violence in the State.
'The Security Council calls on the institution's lecturers, students, management and all stakeholders to kindly note that the task of salvaging the academic reputation of Kaduna Polytechnic rests squarely on the shoulders of all and as such, it appeals to all to contribute toward a peaceful and speedy re-opening of the school.
'The State Government, our revered traditional and religious leaders and parents of wards in the institution, further plead with all students of the institution to remain calm, law-abiding and wait for the reopening of the institution by the Governing Council.
'The Security Council is further giving its full commitment to all students, individuals and groups embroiled in the five-month old industrial action, that it will do its best to ensure that all contentious issues are amicably resolved as soon as possible,' the statement added.
The rector's sack
However, there was no respite in sight until Professor Ruqqayatu Rufa'i, the immediate past education minister was reappointed to oversee the same ministry. And expectedly, her first major task was to courageously implement the panel's white paper. She wasted no time in announcing the dissolution of the Governing Council of Kaduna Polytechnic and the sacking of its principal officers for what it described as 'failure to discharge their basic responsibility.'
The minister further noted that the rector was sacked for 'mismanagement of funds and for losing grip on the affairs of the polytechnic, which culminated in the total breakdown of law and order.'
Others relieved of their appointments were the two deputy rectors, who would be redeployed to their academic departments due to their 'complacency,' while the registrar was redeployed outside the registry for not 'advising the management appropriately on policy issues.'
The minister's action was capped with the appointment of Aminu Aliyu as the interim Rector for the period of six months within which a substantive rector would be appointed.
The minister's announcement was made on a Friday and by Saturday morning the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), Kadpoly chapter announced the suspension of its six-month old strike with a call on its members to resume academic activities immediately.
The ASUP Chairman, Mustapha Yahaya Bida, noted that the decision to resume academic activities was necessitated by the dissolution of the council and the sacking of the rector, all of which were parts of the union's preconditions to suspend its strike.
He explained that with the decision of the government, there was little or nothing left that would disrupt academic activities in the institution except the call for upgrading and resuscitation of facilities to make for conducive learning process for the teeming undergraduates.
Bida regretted that the unfortunate prolonged crisis almost brought education to its knees in the famous polytechnic. He was, however quick to add that its members would strive to ensure that Kaduna Polytechnic regains its lost glory and returns to the pinnacle where it rightly belongs and is known for in the past- technological education prowess in the whole of Africa and beyond.
He saluted the patience and doggedness of the academic staff in the face of the intimidations and challenges they endured in the last six months when the institution was closed, even as he expressed appreciation to the education minister, Kaduna State government, parents and wards of the students as well as other well wishers who supported them during the trying periods to ensure that the great legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello was not allowed to crumble under their watchful eyes.
Reactions and recommendations
And on the day the interim rector was inaugurated, ASUP, again through its leader, Bida, called for the prosecution of those found guilty in the running of the institution. This is even as it called on the acting rector, Aminu Aliyu, to be firm, focused and take Kaduna Polytechnic to the next level.
'In appreciation of the government's action, the congress of our great chapter met and the long, drawn strike is hereby suspended,' a statement issued by ASUP noted. 'We know the taste of regaining confidence in the decadent system and also rebuilding it is gargantuan.
'We call on our government to ensure that sincere and well-meaning people are appointed as members of the audit/investigation committee to look into the financial mess and all those found guilty should be prosecuted.
'The pronouncement made by the Minister of Education, Prof. Rukayyatu Ahmed Rufai, on the dissolution of both the Governing Council and the management of Kaduna Polytechnic is to us one of the greatest milestones in the history of tertiary education in Nigeria. We salute the courage of the honourable minister and indeed the government of President Goodluck Jonathan for this bold step to save this citadel of technical education from collapse.
'Today we have witnessed the triumph of truth over falsehood. And our hearts are gladdened by the government's decision to investigate the financial misdeeds of the sacked management/ council. This also has rekindled our hope in a better nation and the exemplary action we believe has strengthened the government anti-corruption crusade.
'We in ASUP have resolved to give the new administration/ acting rector all the necessary cooperation for the institution to march forward. We urge him to be firm, focused and redirect the vision and position Kaduna Polytechnic for the next level. We are set to use our experiences to redirect and execute our functions to the betterment of the system. It is not a time for celebration but that of deep thoughts and prayers for success of the new acting Rector. We also want to call for the prosecution of all those culpable in the mess created by both the management and Council of the institution.'