The Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) says its appointment of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, as a professor was in order.
FUTO in a reaction through its Registrar, John Nnabuihe, noted that Dr Pantami’s promotion was partly because the school considers his tenure at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as a research and academic assignment rather than a political appointment that it is widely known to be.
Nnabuihe who was reacting via Tribune newspaper on Saturday stated that Dr Pantami had been assessed alongside other members before being appointed. Mr Nnabuihe noted that Mr Pantami’s name was provided to the university.
“The university knows him as Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim based on the documents in his file submitted,” Mr Nnabuihe said, adding that the promotion was “based on his qualification which he merited through long years of research works.”
It was unclear how Mr Nnabuihe came up with his theory that NITDA is a research institution. The agency was created by the federal government as a regulator for data privacy in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari named Dr Pantami to the role as a political appointee in 2016. The president elevated him to his current ministerial position after winning a second term in 2019.
Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it has begun an investigation into the appointment, which has been contested by scholars, including US-based Academic, Professor Farooq Kperogi.
Mr Nnabuihe observed that since Pantami served as “Associate Professor” at the Islamic University in Madina, Saudi Arabia before becoming the director-general of NITDA, he was worthy of FUTO’s appointment.
He added that as a university, FUTO “could decide to appoint someone as a professor.”
Pantami was named among seven Readers (Associate Professors) promoted to Professor by FUTO’s governing council in August.