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Editorial Wednesday, January 18, 2012

THE University of Benin is unique in several ways. From its setting in the cultural milieu that borrows extensively from the ancient Benin Kingdom to its location that makes it a melting point for the various ethnic nationalities that surround the city, it has famed itself as a centre of academic endeavours with strong alumni to show for its efforts.

Another distinction of the university is that it is affected by the bumptiousness of its environment; after all, it is the University of Benin. Similar comparisons about how location of universities affects their operations can be made with other universities possibly with the same results.

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The uniqueness of the University of Benin is that its matters are decided in the media, more than any other higher institution in Nigeria. Petition writers have a field day meddling in strictly administrative matters of the university.

Whether it is the appointment of a vice chancellor or a bursar, some people around the university diminish it with the campaigns that they run. Hardly are there questions about the academic and professional qualifications of the candidates. The foremost issues appear to be gender and genre. The sex of the candidate and his origins are placed above competence and professional integrity.

candidates are promoted as ethnic champions rather than professionals who will add value to the services the university provides. Other universities are in this practice. The major difference is that their affairs do not get the media campaigns that Uniben contenders unleash on the public. Apparently, the campaign is to facilitate the job of lobbyists in getting the attention of the appointing authorities. It is simply bizarre.

ELSEwhere, universities pride themselves with the quality and diversity of their faculties. They go extra mile to attract international scholars and professionals. In Nigeria the gate is narrowing against competence and professionalism on several fronts and the University of Benin is only an example.

While most people see the location of a federal or state institution in their area as giving them a right to occupy all the choice places, the Federal Character Commission, drawing from its powers in the Constitution, 42. (1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-

(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or

(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.

(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.

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