President Muhammadu Buhari made a volte-face yesterday when he ordered that the Vice Chancellor of the National Open University NOUN and 12 other Vice Chancellors of federal universities he sacked last month return to their duty posts, saying that he cannot remove them single-handed.
The President had earlier apologized for the action which generated so much furore from stakeholders, including members of the Academic community and the camp of former President Goodluck Jonathan who appointed the Vice chancellors. They had described the president’s action as a dictatorial tendency.
President Buhari, who spoke at the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting said he had to rescind the blanket order for the dissolution of the Universities Boards, after discovering that by the extant laws of the universities, Vice Chancellors can’t be chosen unless the Boards sit and interview prospective candidates who want to be VCs.
“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.
“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.