FUTO’s VC Should Be Sued and Fired Over Pantami’s Fraudfessorship
By Farooq A. Kperogi
In an astonishingly absurd pervasion of moral logic, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nnenna Oti, who should be sued and terminated for desecrating her university by fraudulently and illegally conferring a “professorship” (or, more correctly, “fraudfessorship”) on an undeserving serving minister, has sued the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for pointing out her fraud and requesting her to reverse it.
In September 2021, Oti also instructed a bunch of comically illiterate lawyers (who are incapable of writing a sentence in English that isn’t a rib-tickling mockery of the language) based in Oguta to threaten me with a lawsuit for consistently calling out her in-your-face fraud of “promoting,” “appointing,” (or “promointing”) Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami as a professor while he is a serving government minister.
It’s only in Nigeria that you can get that sort of unbelievably shameless gall from a person who is caught wallowing in such barefacedly manifest moral decay. Most decent people would recoil in horror and shame when they are caught pants down in such unacceptably objectionable conduct as cheapening and selling the highest academic positional honor of their university to a vain, title-hungry, unworthy charlatan who has no prior association with their university and who can’t by law be appointed to the position.
I don’t know if she has truly sued ASUU since her threats to sue me since September (which she repeated three times later) haven’t materialized to this day even though I haven’t done what her imbecilic and nescient lawyers requested, but if she has, that would be golden because it would provide an opportunity to once and for all expose her fraud for the world to see.
If she hasn’t, ASUU FUTO, which has now reversed its previous bewildering endorsement of her fraud, should sue her. If ASUU won’t sue her, FUTO’s alumni association should. The association issued a strongly worded press statement on Friday forcefully endorsing ASUU’s position on Pantami’s professorial fraud.
Whether she sues or is sued, here are the issues that will be proved in court. In an interview with Saturday Tribune on Sep 18, 2021, FUTO’s registrar by the name of John Nnabuihe said FUTO advertised the position of professor of cybersecurity, along with other academic positions, in September 2020, and that Pantami applied for it and got it.
I found the advertisement the registrar talked about on this link: https://vacancies.website/federal-university-of-technology-owerri-futo-recruitment-2020-15-positions-part-1/?fbclid=IwAR0WXzur-XHjTGauUsY_LCBD3fvSXDiVp9LWHpi3oObSgDFnrr0GzJVqD-I. To qualify to be appointed professor of any discipline, including of cyber security, according to the job advertisement, “Applicants should possess a Doctorate Degree in the relevant field plus a minimum of twelve (12) years post qualification experience in teaching and research in a University.”
The job ad also says, applicants should “Demonstrate ability to initiate, develop and supervise research, capacity for academic leadership and a good record of scholarly publications with web presence of 70% and registration with relevant professional bodies where necessary.”
Pantami’s academic profile isn’t even anywhere remotely close to meeting these requirements. He got his Ph.D. in 2014 and taught at the Islamic University of Madinah from 2014 to 2016 before resigning and taking up a government job as the DG of NITDA in 2016.
In other words, Pantami has only two years of “post qualification experience in teaching and research in a University.” That is 10 years short of the 12 that the job ad requires. Oti should defend in court how she “appointed” someone with only two years of post-PhD experience as a “professor.”
Similarly, in his entire academic career (from Graduate Assistant at ATBU in 2004 after a “spillover” there for poor academic performance to Assistant Professor at the Islamic University of Madinah in 2016), Pantami has only 10 low-quality publications that can be found on the web. That falls short of the requirement contained in the job ad, which insists on “a good record of scholarly publications with web presence of 70%.”
A FUTO lecturer also shared with me the school’s internal promotion guidelines to move up the positional ladder. To be appointed to the position of Reader (which is roughly equivalent to Associate Professor in the American system) a candidate should, after three years as Lecturer I (which is roughly equivalent to an early career Assistant Professor, which Pantami was), have 10 journal articles, 5 conference papers, and some postgraduate student supervision.
Since Pantami didn’t spend up to three years as an assistant professor, by FUTO’s internal promotion guidelines, he wasn’t even qualified to be an associate professor. FUTO’s internal guidelines for promotion to the rank of professor are: three years as a reader, 15 journal articles, seven conference presentations, and PhD supervision. Pantami falls short of that.
But that is even irrelevant. It’s a violation of Nigeria’s public service rules for serving ministers to seek or accept another appointment while they serve as ministers. Had Pantami resigned his appointment as minister and relocated to FUTO to teach, I would have considered the fact of his being unqualified to be a professor as the internal problem of FUTO that is unworthy of public discourse.
But this is a clear case of academic corruption and abuse of power. If Pantami weren’t a government minister, he would never have had the chutzpah to apply to be a professor at FUTO. If he did, FUTO would have laughed him out of existence. By the way, how many northern Muslims are professors at FUTO before Pantami’s fraudulent appointment? I can hazard a guess: zero.
Oti should be made to tell the world why she and her predecessor, Francis Eze, violated federal law by “appointing” a serving minister (who isn’t qualified even if he weren’t a minister) as a professor. It would open a can of worms that should lead to their censure. So, I welcome the legal battle she has started.
FUTO’s governing council should urgently initiate the process for the removal of the vice chancellor—if they are not in on the fraud themselves, that is—for corruption, incompetence, and trafficking in reprehensible illegality.
Mallam Adamu Adamu, Get ASUU to Call Off This Strike
I could have chosen to make this message private, but the ongoing ASUU strike in Nigeria’s public universities is a public issue that is literally putting the very lives of our young people on hold, that is choking their destinies, that is imperiling their today, and that is sapping the life out their dreams.
Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Many of our youth who are in their creative primes are depressed. They’re depressed because of their government’s cruel insouciance in the face of a justified strike action by their teachers. They’re depressed because the government has robbed them of even the right to sleep and dream.
Mallam Adamu used to be one of ASUU’s staunchest and most passionate defenders when he wasn’t in government. After my September 25, 2021, column that requested him to not allow ASUU to go on strike, a mutual acquaintance reached out to me to assure me that Mallam’s pre-ministerial identification with ASUU’s advocacy hasn’t shifted but that his health struggles kept him away from his desk most of the time.
I’m delighted to know that he has bounced back to good health. In his chat with newsmen at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, he revealed that he didn’t attend some meetings with ASUU because “I was in hospital in Germany.” Most Nigerian big men don’t like to admit that they’re sick, much less mention the fact that they’ve visited the hospital in a foreign land.
He said he wants a “peaceful resolution” to the strike but then undermined himself by saying “The federal government is ready to meet them on all issues they have raised and if there are so many meetings and the gap is not closing, then I think it’s not the fault of the government.”
No, it’s the fault of the government. ASUU had been extremely generous to the government by warning it of the consequences of its negligence and deliberate hide-and-seek tactics months before now. ASUU gets a lot of bad rap when it goes on strike, but people ignore how the utterly irresponsible behavior of the government triggers the strikes.
I won’t lie: I have profound respect for Malam Adamu. When he addressed me as “Mallam Farooq” (the highest titular honor a northern Muslim can give to a person) during a 2018 communication I had with him, and then proceeded to say, “and by Mallam, I mean ‘Teacher,’ for we are truly being educated every week”—apparently in reference to my now rested weekly grammar column in the Daily Trust—I was both flattered and honored.
So, I identify with him and truly want him to succeed. But his legacy is at stake now. He is in danger of becoming one of the worst ministers of education we’ve ever had if he allows this ASUU strike to linger on.
There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, in ASUU’s demands that the federal government is incapable of meeting, and that any sensible person would describe as inordinate.