By Adesina Wahab
THE Federal Ministry of Education has said the lingering crisis over the reappointment of the Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State, Dr. Abubakar Abdul Dzukogi, has been referred to the Head of Service of the Federation for official reinterpretation.
This was stated by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Sunny Echono, when he hosted a peace meeting in Abuja involving the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), executives of the Bida chapter, Dr. Dzukogi, the school’s Director of Academics and senior ministry officials.
However, there is a snag in that statement, as findings revealed that the HoS office does not have any documents relating to Bida Poly rector’s reappointment crisis and this calls to question the sincerity of the Federal Ministry of Education in resolving the issue.
“There are no official documents on Federal Polytechnic Bida, Niger State, regarding the Rector’s reappointment saga before the Head of Service (HoS) as claimed by the FME, Abuja,” a source said.
A senior official in the HoS office said the ministry has not forwarded any Bida Poly documents on the reappointment crisis to the HoS for reinterpretation.
The development shocked ASUP leadership because, at the crucial meeting, the PS told ASUP that the case had been referred to the HoS for official reinterpretation.
The PS had also said that the counsel to ASUP, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, was wrong in his assertion that the reappointment of Dzukogi was illegal.
“Though he deliberately refused to tell us about the content of the Attorney General’s letter we got the hint that the AGF condemned the two re-appointments. We also realized that there are no letters submitted to the HoS as claimed by the PS,” ASUP stated.
Other issues discussed at the meeting included an unpaid backlog of 63 months outstanding allowances, non-provision of drugs and essential services in the school NHIS facility since 2015, maladministration in management of TETFund, illegal suspension of three union leaders, and breeding of cultists on campus.
It was gathered that Echono mandated the rector to set up a committee to administer the school clinic and to follow TETFund guidelines in the administration of funds.
The ministry also asked the rector to withdraw with immediate effect, all the queries and suspensions, stating that the union has the right to enquire about the activities of the school clinic because workers’ money is involved.
It was further gathered that Echono pleaded with ASUP to give the rector four months’ grace for the payment of 63 months backlog of allowances. ‘He appealed to the union leadership to beg their members to suspend their local strike and submit the semester’s results to the management’.
“The Attorney General of the Federation has formally interpreted the reappointment of Dr. Dzukogi as an error but the ministry, out of disrespect to the Polytechnic Act, is looking elsewhere for another reinterpretation from the HoS. “After the formal interpretation by the Attorney General, the permanent secretary still believes their action isn’t wrong.”
Therefore asking the Head of Service to pass final judgment. He even said Falana was wrong in his letter condemning the rector’s reappointment” said one of ASUP national leaders.
In a swift reaction to the permanent secretary’s directive, the rector withdrew all queries and suspension on the three ASUP executives.
A letter signed by the Registrar to that effect said based on the peace meeting held in Abuja, the rector had approved the withdrawal of query and had lifted suspension, adding, “you are therefore recalled to resume work immediately”.
In another development, the national leadership of the ASUP got a letter from the FME titled “Resolution from the FME”, which was signed by the Director Tertiary Education, claiming that the reappointment of the Rector to serve beyond his retirement age of 65 is “right and proper”. This assertion, FME said, was the reinterpretation from the HoS.
The polytechnic has been embroiled in crisis following the directive that Dzukogi should continue in office after attaining the retirement age.