In 1989-1990 or thereabout I had applied to work at the University of Jos Staff School, confident that a space was available for yours sincerely, if I met Prof Mary Lar; then chairman of the school board. To cut the long story short, it didn’t work as there were more applicants other than from Plateau State.
In my naivety, I asked several questions: How could I be denied employment in an institution that came through the sweat of ‘our’ people? If the others who applied have federal universities in their states, couldn’t they return to those to seek for employment? Were they not stopping several of my kin and kith from being gainfully employed in their state?
When in 1990 an opening came up at the Federal Ministry of Establishments and Management Services (Federal Training Center, Calabar), I got posted there on the recommendations of the Federal Civil Service Commission. God bless Ambassador Bagudu Hirse, who was then the Federal Commissioner in charge of Plateau. I know better when staff from other states are on the payroll of federal establishments not resident in their state.
If you were in my position, I am sure you may have veined your spleen to get answers for the same questions; or even much more. The point being made is that it is commonly believed that federal institutions located in a particular state would serve the interest of the people in that area only. By virtue of the establishment of such federal institutions, it is understood that the interest of the state where it is located and other states would be taken into consideration.
If you are in Plateau State, for instance, you are aware of the ‘wars’ it has fought for its teeming unemployed youth to be considered for vacant positions; which should have been filled by them, but unfortunately are taken over by people from the states where the chief executive officer of the organization comes from.
It is in this regard that the case of the Federal University Lokoja, where Prof Angela Freeman Miri is its Vice Chancellor. For the avoidance of doubt, she is a native of Qua’an Pan but married to a Langtang North man. I only know her by virtue of the fact that she was a commissioner in the government of former Governor Jonah David Jang; having been brought in from the University of Jos.
She was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Lokoja by the government of former President Jonathan Goodluck. I am aware that other universities established at the same time, had heads of those institutions brought from various parts of the federation. They were eminently qualified to head those institutions upon appointment.
Lately for the sake of the institution, she has come under heavy criticism by certain organized groups on the social media. It is getting interesting, and for starters; let assume that she is not from Plateaus State, would I have kept quiet on the issue? I would have still come out in defense had she been the Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Dutse or Lafia or even Kashere. They were established at the same time; and to be fair, all of them would be employing new staff to fill certain vacant positions.
Like the Federal University of Lokoja, they all would be employing staff from the state they are located and from some parts of Nigeria; and since they are federal establishments they would need to complement the employment process with some from other states. That is what the federal character principle stipulates.
To think that the vice chancellor will only employ staff from the state the institution is located would mean that that the person may not be knowledgeable about issues concerning employment. You may not be wrong if you say that employing staff from states such as Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa and indeed any other from the other parts of the federation speak volume.
If the Prof Angela Freeman Miri has not brought just people from her state; but interjected with personnel from other states, she deserves to be commended. I have been told of about two departments in the University of Jos whose personnel are mainly from Kogi State. What can we say about this, if not for the fact that, this is an example for others to copy?
Perhaps, it may be said that the University of Jos is the only federal institution that should have all manners of staff drawn from other states? May be the Federal University Lokoja is dedicated only for people from Kogi State? In an institution such as this, it is not possible to only have academic and non-academic staff from Kogi State alone; rather, what gives colour and respect to an academic institution for that matter is the assemblage of staff from all corners of the world.
Today, even in state universities, the presence of staff from other states has become the normal practice. Therefore to imagine a federal university without the presence of this academic character kills the essence of the nature of the academia.
It all started when the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Lokoja, Prof. Angela Freeman Miri raised an alarm over organized conspiracy against her administration by some personalities of the host community since she came on board. The reports below had been captured elsewhere.
She was reacting to allegations of sale of employment slots between the sum of N500, 000 to N1million and diversion of Kogi indigenes slots to her home state, Plateau as reported in the Social Media and Independent Newspaper of October 2nd told journalists that the exercise followed due process.
It is on record that the purported accusations said approval was granted by relevant authorities for the University to carry out the recruitment exercise which was subsequently supervised by the Federal Character Commission and certificate of compliance to issue letters of employment to successful applicants.
“I am confident of myself in the conduct of the exercise because out of the 300 junior staff positions approved for recruitment, 220 Kogi indigenes have already been issued with appointment letters under the first batch while other successful applicants will follow in due course. Also slots were allocated to states across the federation”.
She further disclosed that out of the initial staff strength of 828 in the institution, Kogi indigenes constitute 567 staff with the remaining shared among the rest of the states in the country.
Prof. Miri said since assumption of office she has ensured that justice and equity reign supreme in addition to her concerted efforts to transform the University to meet international standards, both academic and the provision of needed infrastructure, vowing that no distraction from any quarter would frustrate her from living above board in running the University.
Recall that the university’s host community had accused the Vice Chancellor of lopsided employment of staff with no positive consideration for the qualified indigenes, maintaining that recruitment of junior staff should be exclusively reserved for the home state of the institution.
The Administrator of Lokoja Local Government Area, Mohammed Dan Asebe who led traditional rulers from the zone to lodge complaints to the Vice Chancellor over the development condemned her action of allocating 13 slots to members of Plateau State at the National Assembly.
Given the insinuations to disparage Prof Angela Miri by the host community, a group known as Kogi Integrity Group has described the actions of some indigenous section of the state to tarnish the reputation of the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Lokoja. It referred the group’s action as a political gang up.
President of the group, Zacheaus Dare Michael reacted that the misinformation making the rounds about lopsided employment alleged to have been done in the institution said after a careful finding, Kogi State indigenes were the greatest beneficiaries of the employment opportunity.
According to Dare, the rumor making the round that non indigenes were the ones favoured by the Vice Chancellor was not true and described Prof. Miri’s travail as politically masterminded, adding that it was the handiwork of those behind the several written petitions and organized protest aimed at making governance difficult for her since her assumption of office.
He observed that rather than condemnation, Prof. Miri deserves commendation and explained that for a federal university, whose employment opportunities is open for all citizens of Nigeria, 220 employment opportunities already given to Kogi State indigenes from the employment so far made by the institution was a fair deal, and sued for caution so as not to create issues that may lead to ethnic crisis.
The group leader explained that rather than the erroneous impression created by mischief makers, the employment of the University staff was done by a committee , where two staff of the Federal Character Commission took part in the recruitment, and condemned the misinformation making the round that the Vice Chancellor single handedly made the employment.
While wondering why mischief makers would want to sacrifice the Vice Chancellor, when evidences abound that she has made selfless sacrifice her watchwords in making the institution a cynosure of all eyes, the legal luminary pointed out that since her assumption as Vice Chancellor, evidences abound that Prof. Miri has been selfless, and has tried her best to reposition the citadel of learning to be one among the best in standard amongst universities in Nigeria.
He explained that under the leadership of Prof. Miri, the institution has attained full accreditation for all her courses, and called for caution, saying, tempers and emotions should rise, as that would destroy the good works and reputation of the Vice Chancellor.
He equally disclosed that one efforts of the Vice Chancellor was her ability to get approval for the institution to begin Master and PhD programs in the University, adding that these achievements were within the tenure of Prof. Miri and urged all concerned Kogi stakeholders to appreciate her good works as a way to encourage her to do more’.
Nigerians, speak no more of Angela Freeman Miri; if you don’t have anything incriminating about her tenure as Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Lokoja.