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By Akobundu Uwabunkonye

The ‘University of Nigeria’ is not just that by name. Events in the institution lately have turned out to have a truly Nigerian connection. Abuja has been the centre of the struggles for which the UNN has been in the news since the closing days of 2013.

Just a summary, for those who are not familiar with the matter. In early 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan, visitor to the University of Nigeria, constituted the 14th council of the institution, with Dr. Emeka Enejere as chairman. Amidst complaints by many stakeholders about the running of the institution, the council had the university administration, headed by Professor Bartho Okolo, investigated. Few moments after a report of the results of such investigations was submitted to Barrister Nyesom Wike, the Supervising Minster of Education, he pronounced Dr. Enejere suspended as chairman of the UNN council.

Shocked that an investigator was removed for revealing the misdeeds of an investigated, the university workers and Alumni protested, explaining that, besides the fact that due process was not followed, no reason was yet made public for Dr. Enejere’s removal. The university Alumni and workers’ unions made inquiries and later declared that the embattled Vice Chancellor had bribed Wike and the permanent secretary in the education ministry, McJohn Nwaobiala, to rock the boat of the UNN council.

What is more interesting is that, even as of now (if I am not mistaken), Dr. Enejere has not received any formal notice terminating his chairmanship of the UNN council. This might imply that Barr Wike does not want to commit himself in writing, knowing that it was the president’s signature that actuated Dr. Enejere’s chairmanship of the UNN Council. Obviously, a minister’s signature is not weighty enough to nullify that of the president. And this would mean that President Jonathan needed to be effectively kept out of the loop of the UNN troubles for Wike and his cronies’ antics to be sustained. How so?

It has been suggested that Senator Pius Anyi, Dr. Jonathan’s secretary, has a finger in the pie. The Enejere-led UNN Council found that 113 projects were on-going in the institution, all awarded by Prof Okolo. Mobilization fees (in hundreds of millions) made to contractors of the projects were found to be far above what the procurement act stipulates. And that was not all; cases of contract splitting were also established against Prof. Okolo. In one particular case, four contracts were awarded for the building of one complex. That is all the UNN Council said about the matter.

However, a number of independent investigators have mentioned that three of those four contracts were awarded to Syndicated Construction and Commercial Services Limited. The latest of these is the Verbatim magazine dated 17 February 2014. Starlite, a newspaper that circulates mainly in the university town of Nsukka had, on its December 30 publication, mentioned Senator Pius Anyim, Secretary to Dr Jonathan, as the owner of Syndicated Construction and Commercial Services Limited.

This is part of the many claims that a panel of inquiry is needed to investigate in the University of Nigeria. Yes! Dr. Jonathan is a man not given to acting with irascible dispatch. However, his silence amidst all the troubles rocking the UNN, one of his most symbolic constituencies, is really deafening. But that is for starters. My surprise at Dr. Jonathan’s silence over the UNN troubles somewhat ended when I learnt about the alleged Pius Anyim connection to the sleazy mess. Because the president does not effectively follow events in Nigeria himself, it is possible for his secretary to allow him selective knowledge of the country he should be governing.

The president’s reaction (or lack thereof) to the troubles in UNN portrays such sentiment that sometimes compel one to align with those who suggest that Nigeria is being run by other men than Jonathan himself.

Official malfeasance has been said to be Nigeria’s crippler. But sweeping matters of official impunity under the carpet has been the country’s greatest undoing. What with when even education – every society’s last fort – is not spared. We are all paying for it! And more is ahead! Wait for it!


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters


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