President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, apologised over last month’s sack of the Boards of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and the 12 Federal universities that were established by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
President Buhari, who spoke at the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja, said he had to rescind the blanket order for the suspension or dissolving of the Universities Boards, after discovering that according to extant laws of the universities, Vice Chancellors can’t be chosen unless the Boards sit down, interview prospective candidates who want to be VCs.
Buhari said: “When we came in after 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, each government had 42 ministries. We reduced them to 24, removed 21 Permanent Secretaries. We sat down and reflected seriously. We were all in the process of taking over at a time of national budget. So, imagine the volume of work and with what happened in the National Assembly, the padding, it would appear that below the Permanent Secretaries, there are still a lot of bureaucracies that are still with them. So, you have to appreciate the position we are in. Having cut 42 to 24, correspondingly, the parastatals will be cut down to some size and realigned and the boards reconstituted.
“We gave a blanket order which we had to rescind when we said all boards are suspended or dissolved. We had to go back and lick our vomit in terms of university boards because we found out that according to their laws, they cannot choose Vice Chancellors unless the Boards sit down, interview prospective candidates who wants to be VCs. So, there is nothing wrong in saying sorry and going back on your decision. So, we said sorry and allow all the universities to continue with their boards. But for the rest, eventually, we will make it. So, please, try to bear with us as we reflect on where we found ourselves.”
Recall that on February 13, 2016, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu had in a terse statement declared that the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Visitor to all federal universities, President Muhammadu Buhari, approved the appointment of new vice chancellors for the 12 under-listed Federal Universities and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) with effect from Friday, February 12, 2016.
The Education Ministry in a separate notice had said that the President also approved the reconstitution of the governing councils of the new 12 Federal Universities with immediate effect.