House Of Reps Mums National Universities Commission Over withdrawal Of varsities Lice
National Universities Commission, NUC, is keeping mum Over the declaration by the House of Representatives that its withdrawal of operational licenses of seven private Universities is null.
Last Thursday, the House committee on Public Petitions declared that the National Universities Commission action is “null and void, ultra vires and of no effect.”
Presenting its recommendations, committee chairman, Representative Uzo Azubuike said NUC should not to take further steps that will in any manner interrupt the normal academic programmes and activities of the accredited courses of the affected universities.
The report also directed the Commission to carry out a forensic audit on the affected Universities and advise the government as required by law. Although the NUC has given no official statement regarding the actions of the House, other stakeholders in the education sector have reacted to the situation.
Dr. Aremu Owolabi, spokesman of Lead City University, one of the affected institutions who filed a petition against NUC told Vanguard Learning in an interview that “the House of Representatives has established that NUC has no power to withdraw or suspend any university’s licence.”
National Universities Commission’s Okojie and Speaker Tambuwal
However, prior to the decision taken by the House, the NUC restored the licences of two of the seven varsities — Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU) and Achievers University.
The Public Relations Officer, Achievers University, Mr. Adebayo Olagunju confirmed this in a telephone conversation, adding that there is also a letter from the National Universities Commission to that effect.
The restoration letter as published at Achievers’ website reads in part: “This is to inform the general public, our students, their parents and members of staff that the issue which predicated the suspension of the operational licences of Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State, has been amicably resolved.
By its letter Ref. No. NUC/ES/319/Vol.1 of July 17, 2012, the National Universities Commission (NUC) lifted the order of suspension and restored the operational licence of the university with effect from July 17, 2012.”
JABU registrar, Barrister Wale Aderibigbe in a press statement said that the restoration of the university’s licence “was made known through a letter from the NUC/ES/259/Vol. I/219, dated July 16th, 2012 duly signed by the Commission’s Deputy Executive Secretary, A.S. Agbaoye, and addressed to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sola Fajana.”
According to him, when the news of the suspension came, “the university management through the Board of Trustees and Governing Council, swung into consultations with the National Universities Commission. Coupled with this, several efforts were made to align with the Commission’s directives.”
In response to this, Owolabi said: “It’s interesting that they can simply restore a university’s licence barely a few days after suspending it. Does it mean that such a university fulfilled all the requirements in such a short time? That is Nigeria for you.”
However, the question as to whether or not the NUC has the power to suspend the operational licences of Universities still remains. Dr. Jamiyu Oluwatoki, chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos State University chapter, said: “The House of Representatives has oversight powers concerning education. This issue is first of all a legal matter, and one would have to go through the law when considering the rightness or wrongness of the situation.
“The National Universities Commission should have the power to monitor Universities which they give licences to but in this situation, there seems to be some form of over-handedness and the Universities have the right to ask questions if they feel that they are not being properly treated because we are in a democracy. If the House of Representatives cannot check the NUC, then the Commission will be too powerful.”
Barrister Donald Iyashere, a legal practitioner argued: “NUC has been given the statutory power to approve, regulate, sanction and withdraw licences of Universities unable to meet up with stipulated criteria. When there is conflict between the Universities and the NUC, the House can intervene and consider whether the reasons guiding NUC’s actions are sufficient.
“The role of the House is just a mediatory one. Compelling the National Universities Commission to go back to its vomit will be tantamount to asking them to compromise on the standard of education, and the NUC has no right to do that.”
House Of Reps Mums National Universities Commission Over withdrawal Of varsities Licences
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