Professor Oluwafemi Olaiya Balogun Vice-Chancellor
Recent hues and misrepresentations over the Management’s application of the administrative instruments of appointment and promotion to fill staff vacancies have necessitated the need for enlightenment among staff. It is disturbing that many staff still display ignorance on the administrative differences between the two. The issue, has of late, assumed a melodramatic dimension, subjected to individual whims. Therefore, keeping quiet will only be encouraging an escalation of falsehood and unwarranted confusion. Global employment practice in both the private and public services, endorses the act of filling staff vacancies through the process of appointment or promotion. Another method is head-hunting, which is rarely employed in the civil service. While appointment involves the process of filling vacant positions or jobs through internal/external advertisement, promotion on the other hand entails ascension to a higher position or rank, exclusively for serving officers in an organisation. Appointment procedure is usually mentally tasking, challenging and competitive, on the part of prospective candidates. Such candidates, on a level playing field, are expected to jostle and distinguish themselves through aptitude, competency and ICT proficiency tests before selection for an eventual oral interview, to pick the best of the pack. Promotion is more of an annual ritual, only open to qualified internal staff that are moved to the next higher office, after having spent certain number of years on the present post or on the possession of some forms of additional academic or professional certifications. In the absence of direct challenge to academic or professional capability of eligible candidates, the exercise is arguably, more often, bedevilled by inherent human subjectivity. I have over time been inundated with myriads of petitions and text messages, while some had even been impudent to the point of filing false claims with either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), with the ruse of unfairly elevating their colleagues above them. There would have been reasonable grounds for agitations, had the process for appointment been made subjective by the authorities of the University. I therefore, challenge anybody to contest the fact that each appointment exercise conducted under my watch, had always pass though the crucible of due process. Not only had the contest been made free and fair, no eligible candidate, who responded to appointment advertisement, mandatorily placed in the national dailies and on the University’s website, had been deprived after meeting stipulated conditions, expressly specified in the extant rules and regulations of the University. As part of my avowed commitment to the promotion of excellence and reward of productivity, this administration had since inception accorded opportunities of appointment to both the academic and the non-teaching cadres, devoid of any iota of favouritism to groups or individuals. I can recall the number of staff in the Professorial, Directorship and other senior levels that I met on ground and how many others had so far been appointed or promoted to fortify the ranks since 2007. Examples abound, among these ranks, of those who by 2007 were Senior Lecturers, Senior Administrative Registrar, Senior Accountants or Senior Librarians, among others, but had in quick succession and within two years, deservedly attained the peak or the penultimate zenith of their cadres, purely on merit. I could not but wonder the reason for the cry of wolf. Why would some staff become timid to avail themselves of open opportunities of staff appointment, only to dissipate their courage, brilliance and proficiency on a tactlessly thankless exercise of petitioning against the system that promotes excellence and reward productivity? Would it then not suffice to reason that such individuals, even when qualified, deliberately refused to task their competence, simply for the fear of failing, only to turn around in deriding their courageous colleagues or the system, of unfairness? It is common knowledge that most staff would rather prefer to be elevated to higher positions through internal promotion than be made to face the hurdles of appointment, for obvious reasons. While not calling for an abolition of promotion exercises, we collectively owe the University the responsibility to honestly ponder over the strength and weakness of the two administrative instruments, against the backdrop of the desire for excellence by the institution. If we truly desire the best for the University, then, we should be ready to jettison archaic practices that had over time impeded growth. This is the time to hold firm to global standard practices. Presently, elitists’ positions in the federal civil service, up to that of the Head of Service of the Federation, are filled through competitive selection. The fact that some staff will always be lily-livered in the face of academic or proficiency challenge should not be enough to discard the part of excellence. Let the high-flyers continually brace the test and profitably so, while others await maturity for promotion, but lest they cry wolf, where there is none.