UniAbuja’s Crisis Without End
Jane Enemona, a biology student of the University of Abuja was supposed to have graduated two years ago. But today, Jane is still a student of the university because the results of some of her courses are missing. She told this magazine that she was already preparing for her national youth service when she was told she had a first semester carryover course. A former student of the university, Eunice Kurugh, disclosed that she never had the opportunity to see any of her results throughout her stay in the university because they were never displayed for students. She claimed that some lecturers even demanded money to facilitate the release of final year results to students.
For sometime now, the University of Abuja has been enmeshed in crisis. This ranged from non-accreditation of courses to the call by a faction of the branch of Academic Staff Union of the Universities, ASUU, for the removal of the vice chancellor, Professor Adelabu. Last month, the minister of education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i ordered the suspension of the faculties of health and medical sciences, veterinary medicine, engineering and agriculture. Students in these faculties have not been able to graduate since their admission. Some of them have remained in the institution for eight years. This has led to students protest. Even though he inherited the problem, the university’s vice chancellor was given six years to get these courses accredited.
The problem of the University of Abuja is myriad. The university is also facing a problem in the area of infrastructure development. It is still using the Pilot Science Primary School, Gwagwalada, which it inherited when it was founded in 1988. A pioneer lecturer of the university, Professor Akinola Anthony Olatunde said the university cannot be compared with its peers 24 years after it was founded. Only few faculties have moved to the permanent site, which is still under construction. Despite being a federal university, the University of Abuja cannot be compared with the University of Agriculture, Makurdi and University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, which were all founded in the same year.
The vice chancellor of the university, Professor Adelabu has his hands full. A faction of the university’s ASUU led by Dr. Dr. Clement Chup wants him removed for administrative incompetence. The faction accused him of running a one man show. A lecturer who pleaded anonymity told this magazine; “as a matter of fact, he runs the administration of the institution from his residence.” He said the VC handles admissions by himself and without recourse to other members of the management of the university. It was alleged that the VC does not honour names sent to him by professors for admission, especially if the names of the candidates do name bear the surnames of the lecturers. He has also failed to recognise the admission committee set up by the university and would not allow them to do their work.
The Dr. Clement Chup led ASUU has passed a vote of no confidence on the VC.
One of the aggrieved lecturers told this magazine that the Senate meetings are not as regular as they ought to be. “Sometimes the Senate meetings are not called for months whereas it is supposed to be held on a monthly basis.”
The management committee which every university has and which comprises of the vice chancellor and all other principal officers of the institution and some selected individuals based on their experiences has not been called for a long while. “When he started, he was calling this committee meeting regularly, including Senate meetings. But suddenly, he refused to call for any meetings.”
Adelabu’s feud with ASUU dates back to the time he was a deputy vice chancellor. Information made available to this magazine indicates that while he was a DVC he had a clique he worked with. The same clique was said to have lobbied to make sure that he emerged as the VC but later fell apart with him. They are the ones fighting him, a source disclosed.
There are insinuations that the crisis exist because Professor Adelabu is not a northerner. (He is the first non-northerner to be appointed VC since the University of Abuja was established in 1988), but Waziri Garba, head of the information and publications unit of the university denied this. Garba noted that Dr. Yau Damagun who leads the integrity group of ASUU and others fighting to keep Adelabu in office is evidence that all is well between the VC and the northerners.
He supporters however, said he is concerned with the students’ welfare. When there was a fire outbreak and students complained that their foodstuff had been burnt the VC was said to have used his money to buy foodstuff and other things for the students. He gave some of them cash.
The university is also faced with admission racketeering. A report from the National Universities Council, NUC, said many undergraduate students studying in the school are not qualified. This forced President Goodluck Jonathan to order the minister of education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, to set up a committee to fish out unqualified students and have them expelled.