Between ecclesiastical politics and tribe
Jan. 23 (THEWILL) — Karl Kum University, Vwang in Plateau State has yet to commence academic activities due to some challenges including a conflict of interest between its management and the host community, reports UKANDI ODEY
Karl Kum University, a private university in Vwang, Plateau state, has been embroiled in crisis since its board of trustees announced key officials to oversee the start of academic activities at the institution.
With the Church of Christ in the Nations (COCIN) as the university’s visitor, the inauguration of its board of trustees on May 12, 2021 also marked the beginning of a conflict between the host community and management. institution, which forced the National Universities Commission (NUC) to withdraw the institution’s operating license. As a result, KKU is under lock and key, with members of a vigilante trained by the Vwang youth movement guarding the main campus.
The bone of contention between the host community and the university management is the appointment of a registrar for the institution. Initially, a certain Daniel Dung Kim was chosen for the position on merit and in execution of a memorandum of understanding between management and the host community, which had previously donated over 60 hectares of land to the university. .
According to reliable sources, Mr. Kim dutifully assumed the role of Secretary of the Board of Directors during its inaugural meeting held on May 12, 2021. Things turned sour the next day as appointment letters were sent to all main leaders of the institution, with the exception of the clerk, Daniel Dung Kim. In the moments that followed, the intrigues were consolidated and the concern gave way to agitation and finally to the debacle.
While the host community accused KKU management of betraying their agreement and kicking out Kim, the latter claimed that Kim was interviewed in error and should not be allowed to hold the same position, qualified or not.
The community has decided to back Kim, saying he is still their candidate for registrar, based on the memorandum of understanding he had with the university authority.
The community also revealed that on one occasion, KKU Board Chairman Prof. Ochapa Onazi told a delegation of concerned locals that phone calls from Prof. Bogoro (of Tetfund) and Rahila Gowon were urging the board to reconsider the appointment of Daniel Dung. Kim, in order to verify the dominance of the Berom ethnic group in the hierarchy of the University and the Church, had halted issuing an appointment letter to Kim.
This led to the crisis that has stalled the university’s progress to this day.
The board of directors is in the hot seat, with an excruciating moral burden weighing on it. He traced Kim’s trajectory back to Gindiri State College of Education where he first held the portfolio of Registrar, before retiring to serve as Registrar of Plateau State University, Bokkos .
Onazi and his team insist that Kim not only retired from college of education, but that his tenure as registrar of Plateau State University was mired in controversy and infamy, culminating in an inglorious exit and subsequent litigation against his former employer, PLASU.
It has, however, been confirmed that the problem Kim had at PLASU, which led to his forced resignation and departure, was in fact a clash between discipline and abuse of standards in a case involving the vice-chancellor of PLASU. at the time, who was charged with short circuiting. procedure by endorsing and allegedly paying himself 50 million naira from the coffers of the institution.
Between May and December 2021, feelings and hostilities escalated as the leadership of the COCIN Church changed. It was only recently that a new Church President was appointed to formally end the term of Rev. Pandang Yamsat, a Berom like Kim, and the entire Vwang people.
As can be seen so far, the New Era has not shown so much potential to resolve the impasse as it has fanned the fires to provocative and endemic depths. A fortnight ago, the KKU Board of Directors visited Governor Simon Lalong at the government house in Rayfield, Jos. During his speech, Professor Onazi not only called on the Governor to intervene and resolve the situation, the Berom Educational and Cultural Organization (BECO) noted with resentment and exception that Onazi used to occasion derogatory and foul language that denigrates the Berom’s sense of honor and integrity as a people.
At a global press conference held last week, BECO dismissed the board’s visit to Governor Lalong as an idle stroll and a waste of time, noting that if such a visit were to have any value, it would have had to be carried out by the COCIN leadership on behalf of the Church with whom the Vwang people signed a memorandum of understanding.
BECO has warned that the KKU board is currently engaged in “cunning” moves “which will undoubtedly worsen the already bad situation”. He further noted that “since the outbreak of the cold war between the university and its host community, no effort has been made by the institution’s council and board of trustees to consult with stakeholders criticism inside and outside the host community for their intervention”.
BECO also deplores that “the host community, whose candidate for senior officers is the clerk, has become the target of attacks and frustrations”.
He further observed that “the appointment of another candidate other than the President of COCIN as Chairman of the Board was intentionally done to completely pull the rug from the feet of the Church in formulating policies and critical decision-making on matters concerning the university”.
While the socio-cultural organization Berom has called on COCIN to continue on the laudable path of engaging the host community to resolve the situation, it also wants the Church to call its appointees at KKU to command and interact with the critical stakeholders, as she hopes that these efforts and a culture of adherence to communication channels established in the university’s organizational structure will pave the way, keep the school’s doors open, and usher in the dawn of the atmosphere desired for teaching, learning and research. It will also save the Church from a doctrinal crash resulting from organizational politics.