By Mayokun Adekoya and Adebayo Fajimi
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has suspended Sunday Congo, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of its Gombe chapter over a congratulatory message written to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, on his appointment as Professor of Cybersecurity by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
The suspension letter came after Congo on September 6, wrote a congratulatory message which was signed by the Secretary, John Adedigba to Pantami.
The Association, in a letter signed by its General Secretary and addressed to the Gombe Caretaker Committee of the association, said the congratulatory message to the minister is tantamount to a unilateral decision.
“Following the recent publications of your congratulatory message to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, we write to inform you that your actions have generated a lot of concerns amongst members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
“This action of yours in publishing and release made on behalf of the association is tantamount to the unilateral decision of you and overzealousness on your part, which was done without authorisation and clearance. It is not only provocative but undermines the CAN NEC Executive. It does not in any way represent their position.
“In view of the above, you are hereby directed to relinquish your position in Gombe CAN Executive with immediate effect and hand over all CAN’s property to your next in line in your bloc.
“In future, you are advised to consult and get approval from the authority of CAN national level so that we all may speak with one voice,” the letter noted.
Nigeria’s Communications and Digital Economy minister, Isa Ali Pantami early September was among seven Readers (Associate Professors) elevated by the Governing Council of Federal Univerity of Technology Owerri (FUTO) at its 186th meeting.
Subsequently, Nigerian-American academic and newspaper columnist, Farooq Kperogi, in his September 11 Column in the Cable titled: “Pantami’s fake FUTO professorship joins other intellectual frauds” condemned Pantami’s professorship. He noted that to be promoted to full professor he would first need to be an associate professor for at least five years, but he was assistant professor for only two years, and you need to be an assistant professor for at least five years to be promoted to associate professor.
“I later learned that Pantami’s “professorship” was granted by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, where he has never taught. It doesn’t take much thought to see that the “professorial promotion” and, worse, its promotion in the media is some self-humiliating intellectual duplicity perpetrated by Pantami himself,” he said.
“The last academic position Pantami held before he became DG of NITDA in 2016 was an assistant professorship (roughly equivalent to a senior lectureship in the “Nigerian system) at the Islamic University of Madinah where he taught for two years after his PhD in 2014.
“Before earning his PhD in the UK, he taught at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) in Bauchi as a junior lecturer. At no point in his academic career did he ever teach at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri. So, only ATBU or the Islamic University of Madinah could have legitimately promoted him to the position of professor.
“But he couldn’t possibly be promoted to professorship at the Islamic University in Madinah because, having terminated his contract with the school to take up a government appointment, he is no longer in the school’s employ. Plus, his last rank at the university was an assistant professor,” he said.
He added that, “at ATBU, he was either a Lecturer II or a Lecturer I—or perhaps an assistant lecturer— before he left the school for his doctoral studies. To become a professor there, he would first need to be promoted to a senior lecturer and then a reader (which is called Associate Professor in the North American system) before becoming a professor.
“That would take at least six years. In other words, Pantami is not qualified to be promoted to the rank of professor in the two universities he has some associations with. Most importantly, though, he is not qualified to be appointed professor by and at ANY university in the world because he does not teach, research, or render service at any university now.
“A professorship isn’t a flippant, honorary title that can be arbitrarily conferred on people who pay for it—like honorary doctorates have become. It is the crowning accomplishment and the highest professional rank that is bestowed on people who teach and research at a university.
“It’s like the position of permanent secretary for the civil service, editorship for journalism, ambassadorship for the diplomatic service, managing directorship or the position of a CEO for the private sector, or being a field marshal in the military. You can’t be made permanent secretary and not work in the civil service, an ambassador and not work in the diplomatic service, an editor and not work for a media organization, a CEO and not be associated with the company that made you CEO, or a field marshal and be away from military service.”