The omission of the deposed Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi’s photograph from the 50th birthday celebration of the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria has sparked media controversy.
The news hunters have invaded the university management with enquiries on whether Sanusi remains the Chancellor. The press have also asked why the management of the institution allegedly removed the photograph of the former Central Bank Governor from strategic positions within the university.
Information available to Midwest Herald shows that the Vice Chancellor may have been playing the ostrich with the all important position of Chancellor.
Prof. Lillian Imuetinyan Salami, Vice-Chancellor of the University had told reporters 10 months after Sanusi was removed as Emir that she cannot verify the position of Sanusi in the institution.
In a rather evasive manner, Salami reportedly told reporters that she “…has asked the Federal Ministry of Education to clear the air on the status of the former monarch as the Chancellor of the institution.”
Sanusi was last seen in UNIBEN during the Convocation in November 2019.
Reporters restiveness is founded on the non-inclusion of the Chancellor’s photograph and statement in the University’s 50th anniversary and Salami’s one year in office programme.
While defending the flagrant omission, the VC said she does not know if the deposed monarch is still the Chancellor of the University.
Reports also pointed out that they “noticed that Sanuni was not only absent at the event, but he was neither acknowledged during the VC’s remark nor did he send goodwill message to both events.”
There are reports also, that “his portraits that used to hang conspicuously at key offices and at the University’s photo gallery were removed after he was deposed as Emir.”
“I really don’t have any answer for that. You can ask the Federal Ministry of Education. They are the one who knows whether he was deposed or removed.
“To the best of my knowledge, no letter came to me. I didn’t get any formal letter. I will not be able to give any position.
“I have a very good relationship with him (Sanusi) and I can say that anywhere. Not even as VC, but on a personal level.” Prof Salami was quoted to have said.
The Chancellor of any Nigerian university is the chairman of the board. No student “may graduate without the approval of the board.” This brings to question if the management of UNIBEN can function under the law without a substantive Chancellor or Chairman of Board.
Is the role of a Chancellor, like that of any chairman of the board of any other public institution? Or is the role purely an inconsequential honorary decoration, without statutory contribution? This is the puzzle that is begging for answer.
The position of Chancellors in federal government owned universities is reserved for first class traditional rulers.