Apology over sacked VCs, Governing Councils: CSOs withdraw suit against Buhari

Apology over sacked VCs, Governing Councils: CSOs withdraw suit against Buhari

Less that five days after his public apology over the dissolution of the Governing Council of Universities, a human rights organisation, Coalition of Civil Society Groups, has withdrawn its case against President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.

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According to the organisation, while Buhari’s decision to reverse an action that was taken in error was highly commendable, the constant embarrassment brought to his government by those who believe that it was still business as usual “should be ruthlessly addressed to serve as deterrent to others”.

In the case filed at the National Industrial Court in Abuja, the CSOs, among other reliefs, also asked the court to declare as illegal the sacking of 13 Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and the reinstatement of the Governing Councils of Universities
During the National Executive Council meeting of the All Progressives Congress held on Thursday in Abuja, Buhari in his apology admitted that the sacking of the governing councils was done in error.

He said: “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 universities councils because we found out that according to their laws, they cannot choose vice chancellors unless the councils sit and interview candidates who want 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 councils. So, please, try to bear with us as we reflect on where we found ourselves.”

The CCSG in a letter to Buhari, signed by its President, Etuk Bassey Williams, and Secretary-General, Mallam Abubakar Ibrahim, and obtained by journalists on Monday in Abuja, described the President’s apology as a noble and timely action, which has put him on the right side of history.

While calling on the President to match his words with action as a way to tell a democratic story of a change government under Buhari, the coalition said: “Nigerians are watching and anxiously waiting to see this open apology made by you come into fruition because much is expected of this government.”

According to the group, the President’s remorse “will forever remain a point of exemplary reference for the present crop of African leaders that offering apologies or reversing mistakes is not a sign of weakness but a show of courage to thread on a path meant only for the brave”.

The CCSG said: “May we humbly remind you Sir that our coalition was the first to call your attention to this error through the office of the Minister of Education when this decision was first taken as we observed that your action was predicated upon an ill-conceived advice that emanated from Mr. Adamu Adamu.

“It was after the failure of several appeals that this decision be reversed by the Minister of Education that we embarked on several peaceful protests to call the attention of all relevant stakeholders including the National Assembly to this fundamental flaw, which if allowed to stand will set a very bad precedent capable of tainting your administration as one that has no regard for the rule of law.

“This is one embarrassment too many by charlatans who are yet to understand that this change which is sweeping through all facets of the Nigerian society has truly come to stay. As a mark of respect and show of solidarity to your administration, the Executive Council members of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups after an emergency meeting have decided to withdraw our suit at the National Industrial Court (NIC/ABJ/64/2016) filed against (the President) and the Federal Ministry of Education in respect to this matter.

“This is our own way of saying thank you for yielding to the voices of several stakeholders who appealed to you to revisit your decision, which though taken in good faith but known to all Nigerians to be predicated on the wrong counsel of an overvaulting public officer in the person of Mr. Adamu Adamu. As we journey through to 2019 under your leadership, we expect more democratic practices as well as sound political and economic reforms at all times.”

The group also drew the attention of the President to a similar scenario when some people tried to pad the 2016 budget before they were promptly exposed by the National Assembly “and in turn incurred your wrath as so many public officers who were found culpable were sacked”.

According to the coalition, Buhari’s swift reaction brought back the confidence that Nigerians hitherto had in him as an upright man that can never compromise his integrity no matter whose ox is gored.

The CCSG said: “It is in lieu of the above that we appeal to you that the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu and all those who have been found culpable either remotely, directly or otherwise in misinforming you into taking the action that led to this constitutional breach be made to take full responsibility through immediate resignation or sack so that those who are by any chance still in doubt as to your tenacity to rid Nigeria of bad governance will be totally convinced of your uncompromising stance.”

While appreciating Buhari for being courageous enough to thread the path where only few African leaders have dared, the organisation thanked all stakeholders and Nigerians who stood on the side of truth while this agitation lasted even in the face of stiff opposition.

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