President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, March 24th apologised over last month’s sack of the Boards of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and 12 other Federal universities that were established by the former administration.
President Buhari, who spoke at the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja, said he had to declare void the order for the dissolving of the Universities Boards, after discovering that existing laws of universities states that Vice Chancellors can’t be chosen unless the Boards sit down and thoroughly interview prospective candidates.
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. Having cut 42 to 24, correspondingly, the parastatals will be cut down to some size and realigned and the boards reconstituted.
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. But for the rest, eventually, we will make it. So, please, try to bear with us as we reflect on where we found ourselves.