Monday 27 March 2017

Seeing the unnecessary and Nigerian dysfunction through a Kaduna Polytechnic vacancy

Long ago in memory
This morning, a tweet flashed through my timeline that attracted my interest, nostalgic interest at that. The Kaduna Polytechnic had published a vacancy for the post of rector. The polytechnic currently has an acting rector and in the recent times, there has been some industrial action by the faculty which apparently led to ousting of a previous rector. [The Nigerian Voice]
The nostalgic part of my interest stems from the fact that we first settled in Kaduna after my parents returned from their studies in the UK. Both were lecturers at the polytechnic in 1971, before my father moved to Jos in early 1972.
In the mid-1970s, we returned in Kaduna and lived in Tudun Wada, an uncle of mine towards the end of that decade graduated the best student of his class in Quantity Surveying, I used to walk by the front of the polytechnic to the Panteka ironmongery, scrap and arts market and further on to the main Kaduna market where my mother ran a side business market stall.
A vision without sight and a mission without path
However, going back to the vacancy notice, reading through it, I began to see issues with the way it was crafted, the kinds of information required and I will provide an analysis of the vacancy as a prism into how unnecessary processes make Nigeria a difficult working environment, why easy of doing business is fraught with red tape, bureaucracy, rent-seekers and ineptitude.
The Vision and Mission Statement aspires to a practice that does not exist, nor does it show any indication that anyone desires it. Reading the text of the vacancy, it states: “To be recognized (US English spelling) as a unique Polytechnic of international repute, setting (a) high standard in education, training and innovation.”
The mission in the vacancy goes on to state: “To be an innovative institution of repute, empowering people to compete successfully in the global arena of work by providing relevant research centered, technology driven and skill-oriented education with (an) entrepreneurial outlook.”
The needed and the unnecessary
The responsibilities related to the post of the rector suggest the person will be the chief academic, administrative and accounting officer of the polytechnic. The requirements for the post look nice enough requiring a minimum academic qualification, experience, leadership, published papers, information technology proficiency and the capacity to attract funding and grants.
The evidence of medical fitness is probably a requirement, though you wonder if it is necessary, the judgement elements of morally sound, of impeccable probity and integrity are in general subjective, though useful for anyone who would aspire to such a role. Being free from financial embarrassment is loaded and probably intrusive.
That the candidate should not be more than 60 years old at the point where they assume the role is in my view unnecessary. Our political leadership tends towards the septuagenarian. Someone in their 60s probably brings at least 30 years of experience to a role that would be more than useful to advance that institution. The age-limited qualification for academic roles is at best an anachronism if the said person meets all the essential requirements that pertain to performing the role.
This is reflecting the stone age
The methods of application, however, must come in for sanction and excoriation. Why an institution that vaunts its claims to innovation, technology driven and skill-oriented education requires an application to be submitted in 15 copies in 2017, beggars belief. It makes you wonder if they are promoting an ascetic existence harking back to prehistoric times. Whatever happened to electronic communication?
The post of rector should be one filled by qualification and merit, such that several elements of information asked for in the application are both unnecessary and superfluous. State of origin and local government area, makes no sense, either in Nigeria or if a foreigner decides to apply for the job. One would think the institution would be going for the best person for the job.
Patently unnecessary
Whilst knowing the marital status of the applicant can be useful, would there be an issue if the person never married? It is very likely if the person were married the age requirement might put the person in a grandparent bracket that the need for the number of children and their dates of birth makes no sense.
Obviously, if the institution does have to make provision for relocation of families of the successful applicant, that can come up at interview stage and should primarily be with the human resources department.
There is no reason apart from the subjective to require that information for an academic role. If they are asking for an email address, then this whole application should be accessible online and posted online, that is innovation.
Surely, you can do better than this
The other parts requiring supporting documents for academic achievement and publications could be done at this stage or they should better apply for transcripts from the academic institutions, it is 2017. Publications can be referenced online, especially if they are in reputable journals. There is probably not one need for a piece of paper submitted for this vacancy beyond showing an identity document.
Applications submitted in sealed envelopes, come on, Kaduna Polytechnic, you can move swiftly into the 21st Century. In fact, I believe there are probably people who because of the lack of technical nous in the publication of this vacancy that would give it a miss except if they want to take on the challenge the status quo, dragging the polytechnic out of archaic times into the modern age.
For one of the premier institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, the mode and method of the publication of this vacancy is a great let-down to its history, to Nigeria and many of us who have nostalgic affinities to Kaduna Polytechnic. This is a shame and shambles, fix this travesty.

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