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KWASU VC: Response To False Statements Concerning My Candidacy - Prof. SAKAH MAHMUD

Professor SAKAH MAHMUD

It has been ten days since the Kwara State Governor Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq appointed Professor Muhammed Akanbi as the substantive Vice Chancellor of Kwara State University, Malete on 1st April 2020. The announcement was made through the social media. But, in an uncharacteristic manner, the government to date has failed to explain to the public the reasons for its decision.

The silence has led some individuals and groups to spread falsehood against my person and candidacy in the process by which the Governing Council interviewed and selected the Vice Chancellor in May, 2019. I therefore feel compelled to exercise my citizenship rights of expression to present the facts, hoping that the government will follow up with its own side to set the record straight. Doing so will allow the government to meet its duty, responsibility and accountability to the citizens as required in a democracy. For those who care to know, I present below the facts so that citizens can make informed opinions concerning the issue.

First, it is false that I am not in active service in the university as claimed by the Ilorin Emirate Professors Association and other commentators. In fact I feel that they spread the falsehood deliberately since I have worked with many of the Association’s members from between five and ten years both as an HOD of Political Science and Provost of the College of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences. The Acting Registrar who is a son of the Emirate has my staff file and could have clarified the issue if the Association intended to know the fact. To be precise, I turned sixty-six at the time of the interviews in 2019. The retirement age for Professors is seventy. I could not have been retired before I am seventy. So by not attempting to find out from any of these people the Emirate Professors Association is deliberately misinforming the public. And this is unfair.

Second, and on the same age issue, the advertisement for the position of Vice Chancellor did not include a clause stating age limit. I also met all the qualifications stated in the advert which ran for six weeks during which the requirements and qualifications could have been challenged but no one did so. To use the age clause after the interviews and release of results as like changing the rules when the game has started. And also to set the record straight, there is no law that stipulates age limit for Vice Chancellors otherwise, all advertisements for the position would have the same age requirement. The appointment of Vice Chancellor is a “term appointment,” different from appointment of staff. So the claim by one Dr. Olayiwola Aremu that I was over age at the time of the selection “contrary to the advertisement guidelines . . .” There was no such requirement and Dr. Aremu is simply telling lies. He can obtain the KWASU advertisement to verify the fact.

I have noted a few advertisements for the position of Vice Chancellors in some State Universities without the age requirement. For those who have the time and care to know they can check the following adverts for the position of Vice Chancellor: Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano (Daily Trust, Monday, December 16, 2019, page 6); Umar Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, (Daily Trust,

Thursday, December 19, 2019. P. 28); and about the same time as KWASU was Nasarawa State University, and Ekiti State University (both of which have been misplaced). The fact from those adverts is that the age requirement is not a Nigerian or a universal practice. Otherwise all adverts would have the same criteria. University Governing Councils determine the qualities of a Vice Chancellor they sought and advertise accordingly. There was nothing improper with the process adopted by the Governing Council of KWASU, which by the way begs the question: if the process was wrong, is it proper for the Government to use the result to appoint one of the candidates recommended?

Third, same Dr. Olayiwola Aremu (as in above) also stated that I “performed woefully at the interview but was allotted the first position.” I wonder how he could have known that. The fact is that each of the interview panelists scored me highest among those interviewed. Could any of the panelist have informed him that I performed woefully? I was the only candidate who knew the system the most, and I was in the best position to know the challenges and the way forward, I wonder which candidate could have scored higher than me. It was not surprising then that I scored the highest at 86.4% while the next candidate scored 74% and the third, 63.2%. A case could have been made about performance had the gap in the scores been close.

The above brief statement clarifies the fact that I was fully qualified and that the Government has its reasons for choosing a candidate other than me. The unfortunate thing is that the Government is not forthcoming with its reasons or explanations for the decision taken. However it is not fair for it to be silent while individuals and groups speak with ignorance to distort the facts. It is now clear as various groups are up in arms over the government decision indicating that the people are opposed to the government strategy of manipulation of ethnicity in the state by choosing which groups are more important than others. This is the public opinion until the government clears the air which is what a responsible democratic government should do. On this note, I want to state categorically that I have since extended a hand of cooperation to the incoming Vice Chancellor for the advancement of the university. I have nothing against him and I don’t blame him for being appointed as the Vice Chancellor. I also did nothing wrong for applying for the position for which I was qualified. My interest in and dedication to KWASU cannot be diminished. I know how what I have contributed to the University and will not do anything to derail its progress. Those disparaging my name are not working for the interest of the university and should desist from doing so.

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