The Office of the Chairman of The Governing Council of the University of The Gambia, (UTG) has reacted to the resignation of its senior lecturer and president of University Staff and Faculty Association, Dr. Alieu Gibba, from Joint Search Committee of the Senate and Council, describing his resignation as unconvincing and deceptive. The university also dismissed Dr. Gibba as ignorant of the internal processes and procedures in university circles.
Below reads the full text of the reaction:
“This rebuttal is regarding your Newspaper publication of Thursday 3rd June 2021 captioned (sic): UTG Lecturer resigns from Vice Chancellor Selection Committee. After a dispassionate review of the article in question, we found Dr. Gibba’s justifications for resignation from the Joint Search Committee of the Senate and Council, unconvincing and deceptive. There is more to this than meets the eyes. We least expected a Senior Lecturer to externalize an internal issue, thus bringing it to the full glare of the court of public opinion. His action manifests his sheer ignorance and or lack of knowledge of the internal processes and procedures in university circles.
The University has a plethora of policy guidelines and statues that guides the internal processes and procedures of the institution. These include the Conditions of Service, the Bye laws, HR manuals, Finance manual, procurement manual and the Tertiary and Higher Education Act among others.
Since the inception of the UTG in 1999, the Joint Search Committee of the Senate and Council had selected three Vice Chancellors including the incumbent without rancor and acrimony. But more importantly, it is a statutory requirement to constitute the JSCSC to select Deputy Vice Chancellors and Vice Chancellor as and when the need arises.
In line with the Bye Laws, the Council shall appoint the Vice Chancellor after consideration of a report of joint search committee of the Council and the Senate, comprising:
(a) The Chairperson of the Council, as ex officio member and Chairperson.
(b) Three members of the Council, not being members of the Senate appointed by the Council.
(c) Three members of the Senate nominated by Senate from among the Members of the Senate.
We therefore wish to state that Dr Gibba’s submission on this matter is full of half-truths and a gross misrepresentation of facts. It is a calculated attempt to sow discord and disaffection within the University community. We shall examine the reasons that prompted his resignation and show proof that those reasons were preposterous, nonsensical, absurd and ridiculous.
1. The position of Vice Chancellor should be advertised one year before the expiration of the Vice Chancellor’s tenure
The UTG Council offered the Vice Chancellor a five-year contract appointment with effect from 1st October, 2016 to 30th September 2021. He is the Chief Academic and Executive Officer of the University. It is his responsibility to serve notice to the Council about the impending expiration of his tenure. Such notice of disengagement should have reached the Governing Council by 1st January, 2021.Two months elapsed and the Council did not hear from him, and that prompted the Chairman of Council to write to the Vice Chancellor on 4th March 2021 requesting him to state whether he would leave at the end of his contract or would be interested in the renewal or extension of his contract. The Vice Chancellor responded in a letter dated 15th March, 2021 expressing interest for an extension of his term by 18 months effective 1st October 2021. The Governing Council convened a special Council meeting on 27th March 2021 to consider the Vice Chancellor’s application for an extension of tenure. However, Council unanimously disapproved of the Vice Chancellor’s request and conveyed same in a letter dated 30th March 2021. In a letter dated 21st April 2021, the Vice Chancellor acknowledged receipt of the Council decision and expressed his disappointment over the matter.
In a letter dated 10th May 2021, the Chairman of Council requested the Vice Chancellor/Chairman of Senate to arrange for the selection of its members on the Joint Search Committee. The Chairman further advised that since only a full Professor can be appointed as Vice Chancellor, it would only be appropriate that members from the Senate be themselves full Professors, and that the composition should also be gender sensitive, and the Registrar will as usual be the Secretary to the Joint Search Committee.
On May 19th 2021, the Vice Chancellor submitted names of five nominees to the Chairman comprising three Professors and two non-Professors. The Chairman wrote to the Vice Chancellor on 20th May 2021 drawing his attention to the violation of UTG bye-laws and guidelines which clearly stipulate the Senate’s quota in the Joint Search Committee as 3 members.
The Senate reconvened on 26th May 2021 and selected three members including Dr. Alieu Gibba. On May 29th 2021, Council convened the maiden meeting of the JSCSC to consider the draft advert for the position of Vice Chancellor and to set the timelines for the commencement of the advert and the deadline for the receipt of applications.
Deductively, the Council cannot proceed with the advertisement without exhausting all the internal administrative processes and procedures. Even though section 4.3.5 of the Conditions of Service prescribed the timeline for advertisement of the post of VC, the Tertiary and Higher Education Act supersedes all other UTG regulations, including the Conditions of Service.
To avoid doubt, section 16 subsection 2 of the tertiary and Higher Education Act stipulates that: The Governing Council may make regulations regarding the functions, procedures and conduct of business of a Governing Council”
Section 16 subsection 1a further stipulates that: The Governing Council may formulate and review policies and provide general guidance of the University.
Section 18 stipulates that: The Governing Council may
a) Establish a committee comprising such number of its members as it may deem necessary
b) Appoint one member of a committee to be the chairperson of that committee; and
c) Co-opt any person, not being a member of the Governing Council on any committee of the Governing Council
Clearly, the Governing Council derived its powers from the provisions cited above, and had not flouted the Conditions of Service as alleged by Dr Gibba or infringed upon the conditions of service of any member of staff.
CREATION OF A SEARCH COMMITTEE EMAIL
It is standard academic practice for applicants seeking appointment to the coveted position of a Deputy Vice Chancellor or Vice Chancellor to submit their dossier to the Chairman and the Secretary to the Council. That has been the practice during the recruitment of Prof Andreas Steigen in 2004, Prof Muhammadou M.O. Kah in 2009 and Prof Faqir Muhammad Anjum in 2016. The proposal to reverse this practice smacks of distrust or at worst chronic administrative ignorance by Dr Alieu Gibba. It is unheard of in corporate management for applicants seeking job positions to submit their applications to all members of an interview panel.
REGISTRAR SHOULD NOT BE PART OF THE JSCSC
The Registrar is the statutory Secretary of both the Senate and the Governing Council. The Registrar has served as Secretary to the JSCSC during the recruitment of all previous UTG VCs. Besides, the Registrar’s role as Secretary is under section 16 subsection (2), section 16 subsection (1a) and section 18 subsection a, b, c. of the Tertiary and Higher Education Act. Additionally, Section 4.3.5 of the Conditions of Service stipulates that after the closing date for submission of applications, the University Registrar shall on the advice of the Vice-Chancellor, prepare a short-list of applicants qualified in terms of the advertisement. It is therefore logical to infer that the Registrar should be the Secretary of the Joint Committee of the Senate and Council
In conclusion, Council wish to reaffirm that although freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Gambian Constitution, there are no provisions that gave an individual a carte blanche to misinform society with intent to cause malice or sow seeds of discord that could undermine the peace and stability of the country. It is a truism that information dissemination must be accurate to benefit society. But any story deliberately concocted to deceive and misguide people could wreak havoc on society with all its attendant consequences.
Dr Alieu Gibba, who professed to be the guardian angel of transparency and good governance, is in fact the worst violator of UTGs legal instruments. The constitution of the University of The Gambia Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA) provided for a one term presidential limit. At the end of his term as President of the University Staff Association in December 2020, Dr Gibba and a handful of his cohorts, amended the constitution of the Association and inserted a clause for a second term. His Presidency of the UTG Staff Association is questionable because of the following:
Section 62(1) (2) of the Tertiary and Higher Education Act provides for the establishment of staff associations, subject to the approval of the Governing Board. It specifies also that “a constitution which shall comply with the statutes of the institution, shall govern the staff association.” Thus the establishment of a staff association in UTG, though constitutionally guaranteed, is rightly subject to three major pre-conditions by the T& HE Act, to wit:
a) Approval of the Governing Board;
b) Having a constitution; and
c) Having a constitution that complies with the statutes of the Institution.
It is worthy to state that, the UTGFSA did not fulfill items a & c above. I wish to state unequivocally that going by the Law by which UTG operates, except UTGFSA can prove that it has satisfied section 62 (1) & (2) of the T& HE Act, it is non-existent and cannot be countenanced by UTG.”