By JAMES EZEMA
Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Federal University Lokoja (FUL), Prof. Angela Freeman Miri has listed part of her achievement after one year in office.
He revolutionary strides including lifting of ban on unionism in the tertiary institution, pacifying aggrieved staff through proper placement of the university staff, among others.
The female VC succeeded Prof. Abdulmumuni Hassan Rafindadi as the amazon assumed duty as the Vice-Chancellor on February 25, 2016, in which case, February 25, 2017 marked exactly one year of her stewardship in the university.
Prof. Miri was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to provide leadership to the young Institution.
Shortly after, the inauguration of the university council took place in Abuja, on the 1st of March, with Prof. Nimi Briggs as FUL’s Chairman of council and Pro-Chancellor.
Her experience, which she is bringing to bear on the job spans from the academia to politics. She was formerly of the University of Jos and a two-time commissioner in Plateau State.
During a press briefing at the Adankolo Campus Council Chambers to commemorate her one-year-in office, the vice-chancellor took time to appreciate institution’s Management Team, the Deans, the Directors, the Heads of Departments and Units, Staff, Students and all members of the University community being at the event.
“Although, the road has been gallopy, we have trudged on without minding the needless distractions that have characterized the journey so far. May I now recount our modest achievements over this period of one year”, she began.
Upon assumption of office, she undertook a familiarization tour of the Campus at the take-off site at Adankolo, and the permanent site located at Felele along Abuja-Okene road.
The tour afforded her the opportunity to came face to face with the academic and infrastructural development challenges, amongst others, on the ground.
“I also interacted with the various Heads of Departments, Directors and Heads of Units, as the case maybe, where I was adequately informed of some of the achievements and challenges of the various Departments and Units across the University.
“With the briefings and familiarization tour of the University done, I then embarked on Courtesy visits to key personalities and stakeholders whose invaluable contributions are pivotal to the achievements of the tasks ahead, and as well, to familiarize myself with the new environment in which I found myself”, the VC said.
As part of her familiarization of tour, she visited the Emir of Fika, and Chairman, Yobe State Council of Chiefs, preparatory to his installation as the 1st Chancellor, Federal University Lokoja, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (DR.) Muhammadu Abali Ibn Muhammadu Idriss (CON).
She also visited the “Maigari” of Lokoja, Alhaji (DR.) Muhammed Kabir Maikarfi (III); the Attah Igala and President, Kogi State Council of Chiefs, Dr. Michael Idakwo Ameh Oboni II; the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Alhji (Dr) Ado Ibrahim; the Obaro of Kabba represented by the Obadofin of Oweland and many other very important personalities in the state and the university community.
Under hers watch, the university’s Council approved the appointment of a Deputy Vice-Chancellor in its inaugural meeting held between March 23 and 24, 2016.
Subsequently, the University Senate conducted keenly contested elections and having scored the highest votes, Professor Osagbemi Olayemisi Makanjuola emerged the Deputy Vice-Chancellor after the ratification election result.
The major test of Prof. Miri’s administrative and management skills in crisis management was resolving several complaints, including petitions, and agitations by some members of staff and staff union leaders in the University.
In other to restore the confidence of every aggrieved persons in the institution, she saw the need for staff verification and a review of the placement process, both at the point of engagement and promotion exercises.
“A Committee on Staff Verification and Proper Placement Exercise, under the Chairmanship of the University Librarian Dr. Ezra Shiloba Gbaje, was set up by the Management of the University and inaugurated on 17th May, 2016 with very clear terms of reference”, which “to identify and verify each staff of the University, to verify the genuineness of staff credentials and qualifications.
The committee was also charged with the responsibility of determining the proper placement or otherwise of each staff at the point of appointment, and the point of promotion.
It was mandated to confirm the State of Origin and Local Government of each staff, and to make appropriate recommendations to Management.
After a painstaking exercise, which included personal appearances to authenticate qualifications and credentials presented to it, the Committee submitted its report on June 10, 2016 and useful recommendations.
The Governing Council at its 2nd Meeting held on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 deliberated exhaustively on the report and issued directives.
“Council had at its 2nd Meeting of June 13-15, 2016 resolved that management should implement the June, 2016 Council decisions on the report of the Staff Verification and Proper Placement Committee.
“As part of the implementation of Council’s decisions on the report of the Staff Verification and Proper Placement Committee, a regularization of appointment of one of the staff, a Cleaner II on CONTISS 2/8 for example, who was found by the Committee to have been upgraded and catapulted to Higher Executive Officer on CONTISS 7/1 on account of high level performance and possession of HND was carried out by the management by organizing an Internal Interview after which a fresh letter of appointment was issued on the current rank of the affected staff.
“This had to be done in order to guard against arbitrariness, during the 153rd management Meeting held on Monday, September 5, 2016 after which the appointment was unanimously ratified by the Governing Council at its third meeting on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at the Council Chambers, Adankolo Campus, FUL”, the VC recalled.
Forty five staff got recommended for downgrading, who instead, would lose their next promotion, and who have been so communicated while thirteen staff recommended for upgrading, who have been so communicated.
Seven members of staff recommended for step enhancement by one step, with twelve others recommended for step reduction by one step, while three members got recommended for step reduction by two (2) steps, among others.
The Council also directed that any appeals arising from the implementation should be forwarded to Council Senior Staff Appeals Committee (CSSAC) for consideration and transmission to Council.
Following a heavy windstorm on Saturday, June 12, 2016, accompanying rainfall, which damaged the roof of the Administrative building, the Physical Planning and Development Department (PP&DD) carried out inspection of the building and came up with the Technical observations and recommendations.
After due process, the University Governing Council gave approval for the renovation of the building.
“In our efforts at exploring opportunities of Public-Private Partnership for the development of our infrastructure and services, our University hosted a Strategic Meeting with Friends of the University and Illustrious Sons and Daughters of Kogi State on the 13th August, 2016.
“We had wonderful interactions with stakeholders who contributed generously and had pledged to always partner with the young and promising University.
“The initiative of organizing such a meeting was aimed at establishing a good relationship between the University and its immediate community.
“The financial support by staff members of 1% of their salaries and the N50,000.00 donated by the students which had gone into the planning of the meeting and the donation of Ten Chickens by Mrs. Adukwu towards the provision of entertainment for the meeting were all contributions and good gestures which matter more than the naira value of the donations.
“The University Public Relations Officer has been directed to keep-in-touch with the friends of the University and the University’s Alumni in order to sustain the relationship”, she said.
Within the period under review, a ban on Students’ and Staff Unionism in the university was lifted, which led to activation of all staff unions.
Consequently, the Students’ Union carries out the activities of the Students’ body with much decorum and responsibility.
As part of her effort to create a platform for every staff to participate and contribute meaningfully to the development of the institution, several standing committees were inaugurated, including Resource Mobilization Committee, Permanent Site Development Committee, Committee of Deans and Directors, Sports Development Committee and Library Development Committee.
The university successfully held its first Convocation ceremony on October 22, 2016, with the young, dynamic and fast growing institution producing 201 graduates “out of which 15 students emerged with first class honours degrees”, she said, adding that “it is our hope that they would stand as shinning patriots and worthy ambassadors of the university”.
A N5 Billion Endowment Fund was launched during the maiden Convocation ceremony held, and N68, 300, 000.00 (in cash, cheques and pledges) was realized.
The Governing Council also approved the award of contracts under the 2014 TETFund Normal Intervention Projects and the 2014/2015 TETFund Normal Intervention Projects in Library Development. These projects include Construction of Departmental Office Block, Construction of Multi-Purpose Complex, Construction of Block of Laboratories and Classroom Complex, Furnishing of Departmental Office Block, Furnishing of Multi-purpose Complex, and Furnishing of Block of Laboratories and Classrooms.
Faculty of Science Re-Accreditation
“Inauguration of the Faculty of Science Re-accreditation Implementation Committee was held on 6th January, 2017 where members were advised to work closely with the University Administration to ensure the success of the accreditation exercise coming up later in the year.
“Towards this end, an In-house Seminar was organized on January 11, 2017 at the Council Chambers in order to refresh members on the requirements for accreditation”, Prof. Miri disclosed.
“I have articulated and presented my vision to drive Federal University Lokoja as a new model of a well-run World Class University to the 2nd Governing Council of the university, and had presented same publicly to the university community, and the invited guests at the maiden convocation held on 22nd October, 2016.
“The Vision is meant to guide our actions for the growth of this young but promising University, its immediate community and the nation in general.
“As I had stated during the maiden convocation, and I reiterate it here that Federal University Lokoja has the advantage of being located in an environment that has a wide range of potentials.
“Our goal is to support the full exploitation of these potentials as a research oriented institution.
“In Lokoja and Kogi State in general, there is hardly any resources that is not available. It is a Centre of Agriculture, solid minerals, oil and other natural resources.
“Its potentials for generating power and maritime opportunities have hardly been explored.
“We will appreciate your sustained partnership in order to achieve our noble goals in this regard.
“In line with the primary role of the University, we plan to develop and strengthen more and diverse academic programmes that will provide opportunities for young Nigerians to start the journey of excelling in diverse fields of human endeavour.
“Through our academic programmes and specialized centres, we will support the exploitation of natural resources as well as the tourism industry in the State”, the VC said told newsmen.
For the VC, partnership is key to attaining the tertiary institution’s noble goals “it is for this reason that I am pleased to note that since I came to this University, I have been quite impressed with the welcome received from all segments of the community.
“We shall work to further strengthen the partnerships that are already existing between us and the community so that we are in a position to serve you better and grow to be a beacon of not only this environment but the Nigerian nation and the global community.
“I assure you that I will use the opportunity of being here to provide a leadership that is beneficial to the community by being innovative, strategic, competent, passionate, compassionate, interactive with a strong and credible team”, she assured.
She, however, noted that “the future is challenging no doubt, but very exciting.
“Our modest success over the past one year ensures that we shall approach these challenges with confidence, commitment and enthusiasm”, Prof Miri observed.