UNIJOS Impasse: Lest We Forget, Need for Caution

By Chris Gyang

We don’t need to go into the details of the current imbroglio, which has once again led to the closure of this university just as long-suffering students were writing their equally long overdue exams.

But we must state that, going by the official facts so far reeled out by the constituted bodies of the university’s academic and non-academic staffers and students, there appears to be an underhand plot to truncate a process of selecting the Vice Chancellor, which was proceeding in accordance with extant laws governing the Nigerian university system.

While at this point we will not dispute the position of the Government which halted that process, we wish to sincerely point out that this matter must be handled with great caution and with cognizance to the history and state of affairs underpinning the existence of this university, most of which contemporaries have attained great heights in infrastructural development and academic excellence.

Over the years, it has been argued that there has been a deliberate conspiracy to keep UNIJOS subservient due to political, regional and religious considerations.

Be that as it may, we draw the attention of current and past students and staff who may not know to the antecedents of UNIJOS in order to clarify some matters which may throw some light on the current state of affairs.

The great and visionary Joseph Gomwalk (of blessed memory) had approached the Ahmadu University, Zaria, to help him set up a college (branch) of ABU in Jos.  But they were not forthcoming.

Undeterred, he took his case to far away University of Ibadan, which gladly obliged him. That’s how UJ was established as a campus of the University of Ibadan, against the wishes of vested Northern interests.

Since then, those vested interests have struggled and succeeded, to an extent, in dragging UJ down, in comparison with its peers.

But even as the current Vice Chancellor has performed excellently in taking this institution to great heights, these same interests have not relented in their historical cause of making this citadel of learning a non-starter.

This is because there’s a subsisting conspiracy to illegally encroach on University land by settlers who consider education as ‘Haram’.  This has created monumental security problems for students and staff at all of the university’s campuses.

It’s against the above tenuous backdrop that the order of the National Universities Commission came abruptly halting a duly constituted VC selection process from proceeding.

The University of Jos is an academic community which has also experienced its own share of religious violence.

The current impasse is creating so much tension in a way that the powers that be must allow the wishes of the lecturers and students prevail, in accordance with extant laws. That way, an escalation will be avoided.

Therefore, there’s an urgent need to exercise caution in handling this matter in the interest of our students, staffers and Nigeria.

(GYANG is the Chairman, Journalists Coalition for Citizens’ Rights Initiative).

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