By Emmanuel Jonathan, JP.
After all said and done, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami, will retain his appointment as a Professor in the cyber security department, Federal University of Technology, FUTO, Imo State, while serving as a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria.
The reason is based on the fact that he possesses the academic qualifications required for the job and followed the due process for consideration of the appointment as outlined by the governing council of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
Even as Dr Pantami while welcoming his appointment by FUTO governing council indicated he will work without salary since he is presently holding an appointment as minister of Communications and digital economy under the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, his elevation as a Professor at FUTO has generated controversies among the nation’s academia, over allegations that he might have used his political weight to influence his FUTO appointment against standard and merit reckoned by the academia.
It could be recalled that the minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ibrahim Pantami, was among the seven Associate Professors promoted to Professor by the governing council of Federal University of Technology Owerri, FUTO, at it’s 186th meeting held on Friday, August 20, this year. The other Associate Professors promoted along with him were Engr Dr Okechukwu Onyelucheya of Chemical Engineering, Dr Alex I. Opara [Geology], Dr Conrad Enenebeaku [Chemistry], Dr Chikwendu Okereke [Geology], Engr Dr Lawrence Ettu [Civil Enginering] and Dr Geoffrey Emeghara [Maritime Management Technology].
The heated arguments and controversies generated by Pantami’s promotion as a Professor of Cyber Security at FUTO compelled the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities [ASUU] to mandate it’s chapter at FUTO to investigate whether Dr Pantami certified and observed all due processes that led to his elevation to Professor at FUTO and whether the governing council of FUTO erred in their action.
His detractors, including some intellectuals have alleged that his promotion as a Professor did not follow the extant due process in professorship appointments in Nigeria academia.
But the controversy is now settled, as the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU, )at its meeting in Abuja on Thursday, November 12, certified that Dr Pantami is qualified and observed all due process for his elevation to the rank of Professor of Cyber security at FUTO. It went further to state that the governing council of FUTO was correct in all ramifications.
Prior to the ASUU-NEC verdict, the local committee (ASUU, FUTO Chapter), attestd that Dr Pantami certified all due processes that led to his promotion to Professor by FUTO Governing Council. Members of the panel who included Professor M. S. Nwakudo (Chairman), Professor G. A. Anyanwu, Prof. C. C. Orji, Prof. O. P. Onyewuchi and Prof T. I. N. Ezejiofor (Secretary), also received reports of how the vacancies in the university were officially advertised to the public, inviting every qualified Nigerian with interest to apply
The panel in it’s report tasked FUTO management to protect it’s integrity by taking steps to correct the misrepresentations against its aftermath of appointment of Dr Pantami as a Professor of Cyber security of the university.
The panel also recommended for a legal action by the university against those who have continued to peddle the assertion of non qualification of Dr. Pantami, which indirectly is dragging the reputation of the university to the mud.
Part of their report read, “FUTO in her quest to be counted in the modern trends in the fields of science, engineering, technology etc decided to establish new programmes such as Forensic Science, Software Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering, Cyber Security, Radiography and Radiation Science etc, FUTO advertised the vacancies in the academic and academic support staff in six schools namely [SICT, SESET, SOHT, SBMS and SOBS] and the 23 departments which include cybersecurity, the advertisement appeared in two national newspapers [The Sun and The Guardian] and interested candidates were invited to apply for the positions which they were qualified for.
Dr. Isa Ibrahim responded and applied for the post of Professor of Cybersecurity. He was given a temporary appointment as a professor of Cyber security in the cyber security department, which he accepted in writing’
‘Dr Isa Ibrahim’s qualifications includes BSc, MSc in Computer Science and MBA all from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), PhD in Computer Information Systems from Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, UK.
He is a fellow and member of some of the highly respected local and foreign computer science professional bodies, including Fellow British Computer Society (FBCS), Fellow Nigeria Computer Society (FNCS), Fellow Institute for Information Management (FIIM), to mention a few.
It was gathered that at the zonal level, ASUU equally certified that the minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami was qualified and observed all due process that led to his promotion to the position of Professor in Cyber Security department of FUTO and it was a rare honour having him on board as among the nation’s academia, while he is on active service as a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria.
With the controversy finally settled by ASUU NEC at it’s meeting at Abuja, Dr Pantami, will continue with his double barrel duties as the minister of communication and digital economy and a Professor of cyber security at FUTO, where he is involved in the teaching of ‘CYB 201, (Fundamentals of cyber security) via online. He is also a lead supervisor of a PhD student/staff of cyber security department of FUTO.
Prior to his present position as Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and digital economy, Prof Pantami has held the position of lthe Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency [NITDA] from September 2016 to August 2019, when he was nominated to serve in the present cabinet by President Muhammadu Buhari. Dr Pantami has also lectured at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University on Information Technology before joining the Islamic university of Madinah as Head of Technical Writing in 2014.
The Minister of Communication and digital economy, Dr Isa Ibarahim Pantami, is among the league of the nation’s serving politicians who are equally erudite scholars, lecturing and mentoring in some higher institutions not for salary, but by sheer reason of passion, national interest and service humanity.
A former deputy senate President and current senator representing Enugu West senatorial district, Professor Ike Ekweremadu, falls within this category. Ekweremadu is a full visiting Professor and senior mentoring scholar on e-governance and strategic government studies, at Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisana, in the United States of America.
Nigeria’s political landscape is not new to Pantami‘s scholarly accolade; previous political office holders who earned the covetous rank of Professor from some of Nigeria’s prestigious universities while still in public office did not draw the same ire that has been visited on Pantami. FUTO is a well established federal university with a track record of impressive accomplishments in research, innovation and technology across relevant disciplines.
FUTO is one of Nigeria’s pride for scholarly excellence as it has maintained very high academic standards since its establishment. Its decision to confer the rank of Professor on Pantami must be treated as sancrosanct having due consideration to the integrity, credibility and pre-eminent status of this noble institution.
Emmanuel Jonathan, JP, a public affairs analyst, writes from Alor-Agu in Igbo-Eze South LGA, Enugu State.