The recent transition of leadership at the Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa State, has stirred controversy within the institution.
Dr Abdullahi Alhassan Ahmed, the immediate past Rector, handed over the reins to an overseer following the expiration of his tenure.
This action has sparked tension and raised questions about the legality of the succession process.
Insiders familiar with the institution’s succession protocol argue that Dr Ahmed’s actions violated the Federal Polytechnic Act 2019, as amended.
According to the Act, the former rector should have handed over to the most senior person, who would act in the interim until the appointment of a substantive administrator by the Federal Ministry of Education.
Ahmed, who concluded his five-year term in December 2023, is accused of appointing Dr Obarakpo Samuel James, the Deputy Rector, Academics, as overseer, contrary to the stipulations of the Act.
This move has generated discontent among top officials within the institution, leading to heightened tension.
A circular, dated January 2, 2024, and signed by the Polytechnic’s Registrar, Dr Munir Ahmed, announced James’s appointment as overseer, pending further directives from the Federal Ministry of Education.
Dr Hussaini Yusuf, a former Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics at the institution, expressed disappointment, describing the situation as sad and unfortunate.
“We are surprised because when a Rector’s tenure ends, normally the deputy rector is the person that is handed over to in an acting capacity,” he stated.
Yusuf explained that the people are not happy about the turn of events, stating that the matter at hand is beyond anyone. “It is the Ministry that should act on it,” he added.
Questions have arisen regarding the motive behind the former rector’s actions, with some alleging a potential return for a six-month acting mandate.
A top management staff of the institution, who did not wish to be named, suggested a deliberate act to remain in power and questioned the possibility of collusion between some highly placed Ministry staff and the former rector.
“I see it as a deliberate act to remain in power,” the management staff said.
Responding to the controversy, Benjamin Bem-Goong, the Director of Press in the Federal Ministry of Education, dismissed the idea of an overseer, stating that such a designation has no place in the Federal Polytechnic Act.
“There is nothing like overseer as a designation in the lineup of leadership in the polytechnic,” he said.
Bem-Goong promised to consult the Director of Polytechnic in the Ministry for clarification.
The immediate past rector, Dr Abdullahi Alhassan Ahmed, when contacted, dismissed the allegations as mere claims from detractors.