The selection of a new Vice-Chancellor at the Lagos State University (LASU) has continued to generate concerns among stakeholders. It is expected that the Visitation Panel inaugurated last week by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will calm frayed nerves, reports DAMOLA KOLA-DARE.
When the former Lagos State University (LASU) Vice Chancellor Prof. Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun, left office on January 11, 2021, it was an emotional swansong for him. Many staff and students of the institution wished he could stay at the helm longer.
After Fagbohun’s exit, two processes to select a substantive vice chancellor were not successful as controversies trailed the qualification of candidates in both selection processes, hence, leading to the cancellation of the processes.
The Visitor to the institution, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, directed that an acting vice chancellor be appointed.That led to the emergence of Prof. Oyedamola Oke as the acting vice-chancellor.
Enter Visitation Panel
Sanwo-Olu last week inaugurated a Special Visitation Panel to address appointments and other issues at the LASU.
The panel was raised as a result of the controversy trailing the appointment of a substantive vice chancellor for the institution.
The panel comprising former vice chancellors, seasoned administrators, technocrats and top public servants is headed by the Pro-Chancellor of the Ekiti State University and former Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Bamitale Omole.
Other members of the panel are former Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, Joseph Ajienka; a university don, Ayo Olukotun; former Registrar of University of Ibadan, Olujimi Olukoya, former Lagos State Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Lawal Pedro (SAN), and a Level-17 Officer in the Office of the Special Adviser, Education, Funmilola Olajide, who will serve as the secretary of the visitation panel.
At the inauguration of the panel, Sanwo-Olu urged members to discharge their responsibilities with forthrightness and fairness.
He said: “I want to thank you because we know that you are sparing your time and intellect for the state government to be able to put a lasting solution to the current situation that we found ourselves in the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor for Lagos State University (LASU).
“As enshrined in the laws setting up LASU, the procedures for the appointment of a vice chancellor are clearly stated there and as the Visitor, my responsibility is to ensure that fairness, firmness and forthrightness are emboldened in that process and become a process that is flawless.
“We have been hit by barrage of complaints and unimaginable issues coming out from it. And by the power that has been reposed in me as the Visitor, I need to step in to ensure that we put LASU on the proper footing again and ensure that it takes its rightful place in the comity of universities.
“This assignment will be time driven. There is an advert that has gone out and which the public is to respond to. Timeline has been fixed for the panel to review whatever has been brought forward to them and be able to make decision and recommendation to me so that we can resolve the current impasse and appoint a substantive Vice Chancellor into our university.”
Mr Tokunbo Wahab, Special Adviser on Education to the Governor, said: “The panel is populated by the best you can find in the country. So, what we have done is within the ambit of LASU law in Section 23. The panel is going to ensure a transparent process.”
Call for memoranda
Following the controversy in the selection of the ninth substantive VC, the panel called on relevant stakeholders and members of the public to submit their memoranda to review the immediate and remote causes of the problems experienced in the VC selection process.
The memoranda are expected to be addressed and submitted to the Secretary of the Special Visitation Panel. They are to be submitted before April 16.
A group in LASU, The Liberators, has called on the Lagos State government to choose the best candidate for the position of the Vice-Chancellor.
The group also said there should be no special consideration for any contender.
This followed the Computer-Based Test conducted for the shortlisted candidates on March 11 at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Ikeja.
The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), LASU, Prof. Ibrahim Bakare, urged Sanwo-Olu to select the best candidate who would not only maintain the peace being enjoyed now but prioritise workers’ welfare and take the institution to enviable heights.
“We want the governor to give us the best candidate and continue the spirit of excellence. Whoever comes in should prioritise welfare, infrastructure, among others. He or she should tap from the knowledge of the past administration. We want to see visionary leadership from who is to be appointed. He or she should create a conducive environment for learning and academic excellence,” he said.
The Coordinator, The Liberators, Prof. Adeleke Fakoya, noted that the stakeholders were ready to support a dependable, forthright and honest candidate who would build on the legacies of the past administration.
He urged the state government to pick a candidate based on merit and without recourse to tribe or ethnic bias.
“We are neutral. All those who contested are our people. We want someone who can take us higher to an enviable position. Whoever comes in gets our full support. We don’t want a VC that is divisive. There should be no scapegoats and sacred cows.
“Whoever comes out tops in the interview should be the next VC. There should be no special consideration for anyone.
“If someone who comes first in the interview is rejected, the reason for the rejection must be objectively stated.
“Selection should not be on account of the state of origin or local government. Selection should be devoid of special consideration,” he said.
The stakeholders further urged the governor to replicate what he did in LASPOTECH where the best candidate in the screening was picked as the Rector.
Candidates shortlisted for the interview, which held on Thursday, include Prof. Akinyemi Kabir, Faculty of Science, Prof. Elias Wahab, LASU Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sena Bakre, Faculty of Science.
Others are Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, LASUCOM, Prof. Olumuyiwa Odusanya, Prof. Dideolu Awofoju, Prof. Mohammed Ibrahim, Prof. Abiodun Adewuya, and Prof. Ayodeji Badejo, former dean, Faculty of Education.
Fellowship vs Ph.D
Following the interview on March 11, LASU Governing Council recommended three professors to Sanwo-Olu as nominees for the ninth vice-chancellor of the institution.
The three, in order of merit, are Prof. Odusanya of the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Prof. Ibrahim, former VC of Alhikmah University, Ilorin, and Prof. Adewuya, acting provost of LASUCOM.
Investigations show that the three professors are holders of Fellowships.
Thus, the recommendation of the Governing Council brought about mixed reactions among LASU workers over the outcome of the interview.
In January, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, had said a Fellowship was not equivalent or equal to a PhD. The NUC official’s statement, however, softened the stance of LASU management that Fellowships are superior to PhDs.
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