Idoma people of Benue State, have expressed disatisfaction over the lopsided appointments of principal officers and nominal staff of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
This was contained in a petition filed by Chief Adoka Adaji, on behalf of ‘Opiatoha K’Idoma’, a foremost sociocultural group in Idomaland.
The petition which was addressed to the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and dated 27th July, 2016, was, however, refered to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
At the public hearing organized by the committee on Thursday, both the petitioners and the management of the university were invited, but only the petitioners honoured the invitation.
Chief Adoka Adaji, the General Secretary and Prince Yemi Itodo, Acting PRO of the group, who announced appearances on behalf of the petitioners; also accused the Federal Character Commission ( FCC) of complicity in the appointment of the Registrar.
According to them, the Commission had, through its letter dated 1st July 2016, and addressed to the Vice Chancellor of the University, rejected the request to grant the Certificate of Compliance for the appointment of Mrs. Nyitse Helen Nguper as Registrar of the institution.
The petitioners submitted that, the FCC in the said letter, objected to the appointment of Mrs. Nyitse, on the grounds that, the VC, the deputy VC (Admin) and Bursar were all Tivs from Benue State and as such, would be a breach of the Federal Character principle, if the Registrar was appointed from the same area.
“The Commission, however, revised its decision and contradicted itself, when it issued a Certificate of Compliance No: FCC/CC/UJ/016/001 dated 29th July, 2017, that Mrs. Nyitse be appointed as Registrar; after the VC, Prof. Emmanuel Kucha and some Tiv elites visited the FCC headquarters, Abuja, the previous day”, the petitioners submitted.
They drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that, “aside the university having 4 of its principal officers from the Tiv speaking area of Benue State, Mrs. Helen Nyitse who was recently appointed as Registrar, hails from the same local government area (Guma) with the Vice Chancellor.
“This is a grand plan by a few to destroy the institution with the people of the same ethnic group holding almost all the principal positions. This, in our opinion, is not healthy for proper accountability and also fair admission exercise, in a federal university”.
Opiatoha K’Idoma also alleged that, “since inception, the institution had had 4 Vice Chancellors from the Tiv area, in a succession, without considering the Idoma people”.
The group alluded that, “when the result of the interview conducted to appoint a new Registrar was released, the Tiv candidates were placed first and second, the Idoma candidate, Dr. John David Ujoh came third, while the candidate from Ekiti State was placed fourth. The placement of the candidates was deliberately done or designed to favour a Tiv candidate”.
The petitioners also faulted the composition of the recruitment panel which conducted interview for the Registrar applicants, stressing that, the panelist had 4 members from the Tiv speaking area as against only one Idoma.
In their prayers, the petitioners urged the Senate to revoke the appointment of Mrs Nyitse as Registrar of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, and order that Dr. John David Ujoh, who was placed 3rd in the interview be appointed, or any other tribe from another state, to reflect principle of Federal Character.
They also urged the Lawmakers to summon the Federal Character Commission and posibly reprimand it, for its complicity in the appointment of the Registrar, even as they craved for strict adherence of principle of Federal Character in subsequent appointments.
Responding, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions assured the petitioners that, the FCC would be summoned, to appear before the Senate and explain its role in the said appointment.
The committee also extended its time frame, to enable the management of the university appear before it and respond to the petition.