Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) of the Federal Polytechnic Bida has expressed its displeasure with the tenure extension granted to the Rector of the Polytechnic, Abubakar Abdul Dzukogi.
ASUP’s dissatisfaction is stemming from the decision of the federal government through the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu to grant a tenure extension to the Rector beyond his retirement age.
In documents seen by Aledeh News, Adamu wrote to the Rector to inform him of the extension of his tenure beyond 2021 for another two years.
“I write to convey to you the approval of Mr. President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for your reappointment as Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State.
“The appointment is for a second and last tenure of four (4) years with effect from 21st of May 2019, in line with the Federal Polytechnic Act CAP. F.17, Section 8(b). The terms and conditions of service including remuneration and fringe benefits shall be as approved for Rectors of Federal Polytechnics.
“However, I am to inform you that your appointment will terminate on 15th February 2021, after attaining the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five years in line with the condition of service in the polytechnic sector,” Adamu wrote in the letter dated March 2019.
Arguments against the decision of the the federal government is premised on its knowledge of Dzukogi’s age and retirement date, and its surprising decision to grant him an extension beyond his retirement age of 65.
On the 10th of June 2020, the Rector wrote the Registrar of the institution to apply for a voluntary retirement that will enable him serve out his final term as Rector of the polytechnic “in line with extant provisions.”
Legal luminary, Falana wrote the Presidency to inform it of the loophole in the reappointment of Dzukogi. Falana, counsel to the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) in a three-page letter explained in details, with citations from Section 16 of the Amended Federal Polytechnic Act 2019 that the President can remove the Rector if he’s satisfied that his stay is not in the interest of the public or of the Polytechnic. Section 16 (4) of the act also states that “there shall will be no sole administration in any polytechnic in Nigeria.”
In the letter dated 20th of July, Falana informed the Minister of Education that his client informed him that he (Adamu) may not have been told that the Rector is ineligible to hold the position for a second term of four years, and was erroneously recommended to the President for a reappointment as Rector.
While Dzukogi’s appointment was due to have ended in 2019, and with no provision for the appointment of a Rector for a 2-year tenure, Falana recommended to the Minister to reverse the decision to reappoint Dzukogi as the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Bida.
The Rector was said to have gotten an extension of his tenure to 2021 after it lapsed in 2019. This was after ASUP complained to the Minister about the contravention of the Polytechnic Act in its decision. Astonishingly, the group was shocked to see that the Rector had also gotten a further two-year extension till 2023, by which time, Dzukogi will be 67, and past his retirement age.
ASUP was quick to act when a circular was sent by the office of the registrar informing the polytechnic that the Minister of Education had directed that Dzukogi will serve his four-year term, which will end in 2023 as approved by the President.
The Registrar, Mohammed B. Ndana in the letter congratulated the Rector on the extension of his tenure.
The letter stated that the letter which was signed by the Director, Tertiary Education Ojo J.S on behalf of the Minister supersedes the one informing the Rector of his tenure expiration at the age of 65. Aledeh News has gathered that the Director of Tertiary Education himself has retired after reaching retirement age.
Aledeh News also reliably gathered that the Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari wrote the Minister directing him to review the extension, but he only set up a 7-man recommendation committee instead.
In a reaction to Falana’s letter, counsel to the rector, Ihenyerem Okata, insisted that the action of the Minister and the tenure extension granted to his client is in line with the Polytechnics Act 2019 and extant provisions.
Okata said since the case is already in court, the union cannot bring the petition before the minister, adding ‘‘they have to wait for a final determination by the court and then the administrative action can proceed, if need be.’’
Recall that Clerk of the National Assembly, Sani Omolori had also granted himself a tenure extension before he was voluntarily retired by the leadership of the NASS.
In a similar occurrence, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who had his tenure illegally extended by the late Abba Kyari was recently laid off and has been asked to pay back all salaries he had received since after his retirement was due as contained in a letter communicated to the Pension office.