ASUU Lacks Powers To Declare Pantami’s Professorial Elevation Illegal – Don

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ASUU Lacks Powers To Declare Pantami’s Professorial Elevation Illegal - Don
Joe Abugu

A Don has revealed that ASUU lack powers to declare Pantami’s professorial elevation illegal, The Nation report.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Professor of Industrial and Commercial Law, Joe Abugu, said yesterday that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has no powers to declare the professorial rank conferred on Communications and Digital Economy Minister Isa Ali Pantami, by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), illegal.

Abugu, who is a lecturer in the University of Lagos, ASUU has no role whatsoever in the conferment of professorship by Nigerian Universities.

The National Executive Committee of ASUU had set aside the report of its FUTO chapter which had endorsed the procedure for the conferment of Pantami’s professorial rank.

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In a position paper entitled: “Of University Autonomy, Meddlesomeness of ASUU and its War Against Prof. Ibrahim Isa Pantami,” Abugu said the local chapter of ASUU did an excellent job in reminding the public that FUTO duly advertised the vacant positions in credible national dailies.

He said when Pantami applied the relevant bodies vetted his credentials and gave him the appointment on merit.

He said all over the world and in Nigeria in particular, there are no strict general rules guiding the procedure for professorial appointment which universities in a country must obey.

He said each institution of learning sets its own rules and Vice Chancellors have certain discretionary powers to use when necessary.

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He said there is even nowhere in the statute books where ASUU is mentioned as an important decision or opinion making body in the procedure of appointing university professors.

Abugu said: “By section 3 of the Federal Universities of Technology Act 1993, the University shall have ‘power to inter alia institute professorships, readerships or associate professorships, lecturer-ships, and other posts and offices and to make appointments thereto; and by section 6, the Council shall be the governing body of the University and shall be charged with the general control and superintendence of the policy, finances and property of the University’

“It is clear therefore, that ASUU has no power to institute or confer professorship. It is noteworthy that the University Council comprises two representatives of the congregation of teachers.

“Whilst the Congregation is the body of academics in the University, it is not synonymous with ASUU.

“It can be taken for granted though that through these representatives of Congregation, ASUU may have a voice in the conferment of Professorships but not ASUU as a Union.

“Can ASUU then have power to declare a Professorship conferred by an institution illegal? The answer may probably be found in the Rule book or Constitution of ASUU.

“As a registered trade union under the Trade Union Act, its Rule book neither contains any clause conferring powers of certification of academic titles nor the power to declare one, illegal.”

On whether Pantami was qualified for the appointment while serving as minister, Abugu noted that the argument was watery and flowed from ignorance.

According to Professor Abugu, there is no precedent for ASUU or any trade union at all meddling in the internal affairs of universities,

He said there are a lot of verifiable and reliable precedents in the country for ministers and other government officials who got professorial appointments while on study leave or leave of absence from the respective universities where they were teaching.

He listed some prominent Nigerians including late Dora Akunyili,, Jerry Gana, Muhammad Ali Pate, etc, as beneficiaries of the same privilege for which he claimed Pantami is now being slaughtered by ASUU.

He insisted that Pantami’s professorship rank has been legally and legitimately earned.

He said ASUU’s take on the integrity of the procedure has no basis in law, precedent, morality and logic.