The provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Dr. Elisabeth Ikem, must be sacked and a new management must be reconstituted, members of an underground group said on Thursday, 15th May, 2014 after an emergency meeting.
Dr. Ikem has been credited with bringing Nigeria’s oldest journalism institution from the brink of collapse and running it successfully without the types of crises that brought it to its knees about two decades ago.
The NIJ boss is often praised for raising the standards of learning and teaching in the institution as well as securing a national accreditation that has allowed NIJ graduates to take part in the country’s compulsory National Youth Service Scheme for all graduates of recognised degree-awarding institutions in Nigeria.
Dr. Ikem has also brought discipline to the institution so much so that students who were caught cheating were expelled despite pleas from parents, lecturers or even fellow students.
The provost is also credited with the fact that NIJ has been devoid of cultism wreaking havoc in many Nigerian universities and polytechnics.
To many NIJ students, the fear of Dr. Ikem is the beginning of wisdom, a graduate of the institution said. That fear seemed to still be with him as he pleaded that his name should not be mentioned for this report.
Despite these lofty achievements, those who want her sacked claim that she has spent 14 years in the institution as the provost and has become corrupt and dictatorial.
They claim that because of her high handedness, she is the only one taking vital decisions regarding the institution without involving or even informing others.
They claim that she cannot be questioned and behaves like an emperor whose words are final no matter how superior a contrary argument may be.
“She does as if she is the only player in NIJ. She cannot be questioned. She takes all the decisions and sometimes does not even inform other management members. She drives the best cars while other management staff languish in poverty,” a member of the group said.
This reporter was not able to confirm allegations of corruption and high handedness against the provost as she did not respond to our calls.
Still those who make the allegations claim for instance that money paid by students for the institution’s yearly magazine is often diverted to other uses. They also claim that a new bus she purchased not too long ago is an old bus that gulped the price of a brand new one. Lecturers also complained that they have not been promoted for years and they work extra time without being paid.
Most lecturers who teach full-time students are also used to teach part-time courses without pay or with minimum pay, lecturers who spoke for this report said. They all wanted to remain anonymous.
They, like all others interviewed for this report, say criticisms or disagreements with her can be fatal.
“She has recorded some achievements but she was not the only one. Lecturers and admin staff even contributed more than her but she recorded all the benefits while they were left to pick the crumbs falling off her table,” a member of the aggrieved group said.
Another group that calls itself, the SAVE NIJ GROUP (SNG), said in a press statement that the institution is in dire need of ‘a new life’ or a fresh blood to mark a shift in ‘the state of comatose in the various statutory Internal regulatory bodies’ in NIJ.
“The SAVE NIJ GROUP (SNG), an integrity and stakeholders interest group committed to the Institutionalisation of due process in NIJ commends and supports the reconstitution of the NIJ’s Board of Trustees. The reconstitution, which is long overdue, is a welcome development for the revitalisation and institutionalisation of the statutory organs required for the good-ordered administration of the Institution,” the group said.
It added: “We salute the courage for putting this in place. We also commend the composition and the diversity of this new BOT that comprises men and women of integrity, leadership, and industry.”
The new members of Board of Trustees as advertised in a public notice published in The Sun Newspaper, page 9, April 16, 2014 include: Mallam Ismailia Isa, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Mr. Sam Amuka-Pemu, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Dr. (Mrs) Doyin Abiola, Mr Felix Adenaike, and Dr. Josef Bel-Molokwu.
The group said these people are men and woman of integrity, whose contributions to the media industry and Nigerian society is monumental and worth emulating.
“We hope this will mark a shift in the state of comatose the various statutory Internal regulatory bodies have been over the years. We hope the same spirit that was employed in constituting the new Board of Trustees will be extended to other organs of the Institution that requires injection of new life.
“We believe the inauguration and the commencement of delibrations by the BOT will inject new lease of life into NIJ. We express our congratulations to all the new BOT members and wish that God will grant them wisdom, energy and the required for this noble assignment,” the group said in a statement signed by Nasir Ifeanyi Jomiloju.