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Plateau’s KKU Crisis: Govt intervention grinds to a halt

…Vwang Community says intervention is “ill-fated venture.”  

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

Following the directive by the Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, to the Commissioner for Higher Education and the Head of Service to immediately engage all stakeholders in resolving the misunderstanding that led to the suspension of the licence of Karl Kumm University (KKU), Vom Plateau State, owned by the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), Vwang Community has urged government to stay off the  KKU issue, especially at this point in time, saying, “it will be more rewarding, because the intervention of the State Government in the KKU crisis now, from all indications is an obvious ill-fated venture and a visible invitation to disaster.”

Addressing newsmen on Wednesday in Jos, the President of Vwang Development Association (VDA), Mr. Jonah C. Gworu, said “The COCIN Church came to Vwang Community for land; not the government’s land was donated to the Church, and an MOU was signed between the donor and recipient, without government’s involvement.”

According to him, anyone interested in the genuine resolution of the matter should encourage the Church to honuour its undertaking with the host community, adding that, if after all is said and done, and the solution is still far off, it is then the proprietor of the KKU that will formally approach the State Government for intervention and not chairman of the Governing Council, Prof Onazi.

He noted that, government can create all the enabling environment and encouragement to the COCIN and its host community to resolve their differences by implementing the conditions of their MOU.

Mr. Gworu called all the National Leadership of the Berom Educational and Cultural Organization (BECO) to immediately wade into this matter, saying, “This to ensure that it does not get worse, as we remain resolute on our position – that, either the COCIN Church honours its obligation to them as contained in the MOU, or withdraw their earlier donations made to facilitate the take-off of the KKU.”

He also called on COCIN Church to immediately call all its appointees in the KKU to order and advise COCIN to immediately set the machinery in motion for the review of the statutes of the KKU, in line with best practices.

The VDA President also urged the Proprietor of the KKU to immediately assume effective possession of their property before some selfish and greedy individuals, with sinister motives disown of it, and also urged him to continue with the process it has started with the host community towards resolving the impasse.

He equally called on COCIN to “insist on strict adherence to establish channels of communication by all appointees of the instruction, especially heads of units, not Governing Council and VC, and should assume responsibility and address issues at stake, as we have no MOU with Bogoro, Onazi or Plateau State Government.”

He also urged Prof. Onazi to apologise to the host community for the insults he heaped on them at the Government House, by calling them “disgruntled, ungrateful and miscreants,” and also the appointment of their son as the Register of the KKU, who was appointed and removed, and urged them to reinstate him.

It would be recalled that, Governor Lalong expressed displeasure on how the new University, which got operational license in 2021m could not take off due to misunderstanding with the host community over the appointment of the Registrar in line with an MOU signed with them. 

He said the issue must be resolved quickly as the University, which had been in incubation for over 18 years, was finally given the green light to operate, having fulfilled the conditions of the National University Commission (NUC), only to have this joy truncated. 

The governor said the State Government had restrained itself from meddling in the affairs of the private institution with the hope that things will be sorted out quickly, but would now have to be involved, based on the request of the Council and the fact that the entire State stands to lose, if the University does not take off. 

According to him, “Plateau State is known as a hub for education, and we are proud of COCIN for the contribution of its educational institutions, which have produced great minds in Nigeria. The development at the KKU does not speak well for the State and must be addressed immediately.”

During the visit, Pro-Chancellor of KKU, Prof. Ochapa Onazi, informed the governor that the unfortunate incident has robbed the University of one year since the approval of its licence, explaining that the matter in question was very clear and easy to resolve, as the Management of the Institution acted on truth and justice. 

He said the decision not to appoint the Registrar’s candidature, which did not go down well with the host community, was not in bad faith but in keeping with the laid down procedures of ensuring that all staff engaged meet the requirements set by the NUC. 

He said, “We have explained to the host community that we could not have gone ahead to appoint a candidate with deficiencies and create further problems for the new institution. 

“We have also explained to the community the fact that there are other appointments of principal officers for the University yet to be done, which we hope will consider their interest, based on the MOU. However, the youths have refused to bulge, despite all entreaties from us and the plea by the Dagwom Rwei, the Traditional Ruler of the area.” 

Prof. Ochapa Onazi explained that the University prefers to embrace dialogue rather than confrontation, which is why despite acts of provocation, it has maintained a peaceful posture. 

Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Nanven Audu Gambo, said the intervention of the governor will go a long way in ensuring that the University takes off immediately to avoid further waste of time and resources. 

He recalled that throughout the construction of the University, the youths of the host community, including the supervising architects, were involved to ensure that they benefit from the institution. 

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