By John Ikani
Management of the Federal University of Technology, (FUTO), Owerri says the appointment of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami as Professor of Cyber Security “followed due process.”
Pantami, along with some other lecturers of the university were recently elevated to the academic rank of Professor by FUTO.
The minister’s elevation has generated controversy, with many faulting FUTO on the promotion of the minister, who has never been on the teaching roll of the university and whose highest academic attainment was just a lecturer before he ventured into politics.
Clarifying issues surrounding Pantami’s controversial appointment, the institution’s Registrar, Mr. John Nnabuihe, said the Minister was assessed alongside other internal members who were also appointed as Professors.
Nnabuihe who stressed that Pantami’s appointment was deserving and “based on his qualification which he merited through long years of research works,” added that the Minister was not “promoted” as reported in some quarters, but was “appointed” because he was a Reader.
According to him, “the only reason why it looks like it is a promotion is because he was a Reader and has not attained such position before. So, he is appointed into a higher position than where he was before.”
He said: “Somebody who is not your staff, you cannot promote him.” Nnabuihe said that after Dr Pantami graduated in Computer Science, he started as a lecturer at the Abubakar Tafawa Belewa University, and later went to another university in Saudi Arabia and was thereafter appointed as an “Associate Professor,” which was where he stayed for some time until he was appointed as the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) which he said, was “like a research institute.”
The Registrar added that in such a research institute, somebody could be there and at the same time would be publishing papers that could make him qualify. He said based on that, a particular university “could decide to appoint someone as a professor.”
He went on to note that in September 2020, FUTO advertised for the position of Professor and lecturers in different disciplines in the institution and Dr Pantami applied.
“If an associate professor is in a particular university and another university wants him and after assessing him he is qualified based on his research works and credentials, such a person could be appointed as professor by that university,” Nnabuihe said.
On when Dr Pantami would be available to take up his new job in the university, the Registrar said that “is his business,” saying “he applied and FUTO has assessed and appointed him, it’s not my business” (when he would take up the position). On whether FUTO has Cybersecurity as a course, the Registrar said the institution has a Department of Cybersecurity under its School of Information and Communications Technology.