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Pantami: The return of professorship debate

Pantami: The return of professorship debate
November 10
11:58 2021

BY ZAYYAD I. MUHAMMAD

The Federal University of Technology, Owerri chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) inaugurated a five-man probe panel on September 22, 2021, to assess the procedures used to appoint Isa Ali Pantami, the minister of communication and digital economy, as a professor of cybersecurity. The panel has concluded that said due process was followed by the governing council and the management of the university in the appointment. The report by the panel is an interesting one considering the heated public debates generated by Pantami’s appointment as a professor.

Most of the people who criticized the appointment were academics. As expected, the majority of those who supported the critics were Pantami’s political adversaries. The supporters of Pantami’s appointment were either some academics, his political supporters and those who sat on the fence.

The verdict by the five-man probe panel certainly gives Pantami and FUTO some respite. His political supporters will be very happy, while opponents of the appointment will fire more, because, majority of them are academic. Tenacious criticism on issues that concern knowledge is an attitude of academics. During the first debate, Pantami’s ‘friend’ professor Farooq Kperogi said: “There are basically three legitimate ways to become a professor: by climbing the professional ladder in a university; by being appointed to the position from outside academia in recognition of vast and varied industry experience or artistic wizardly in a field; and through a courtesy appointment. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami’s record does not qualify him for any” but Tukur Sa’ad a former vice-chancellor said and countered Kperogi: “A university can decide to appoint an individual to a position either through promotion or straight appointment based on the criteria they set up independent of the National University Commission (NUC)”.

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Pantami’s political allies and supporters will be very pleased with the report of the ASUU panel, because, they see Pantami as a potential vice presidential candidate with many advantages. To all Pantami’s supporters; his professorship is a big addition to his credentials which his potential rivals don’t have.

They are of the view that Pantami is young, highly educated with a PhD. from the United Kingdom (UK) at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. They argue that politically, Pantami is a good material to balance a presidential ticket. He is from north-east Nigeria and fits into the agitation for the north-east to present the vice-presidential candidate in 2023. He is a household name in the north-west. They will feel at home with him – he is their cousin. He is an Islamic scholar with a very large cult-like followership nationwide. Pantami is Buhari’s strong confidant and ally.

The general belief among Pantami’s promoters is; Pantami from the north-east as vice-presidential candidate with any presidential candidate from the south, especially the southwest, will balance a presidential ticket and serve as a strategy for the APC to retain the presidency in 2023. Nevertheless, academics and oppositions against Pantami’s professorship will continue to hit hard while his political rivals will clap for them. Pantami and his supporters should be well-prepared for the game.

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Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Abuja, [email protected] (08036070980)

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