The appointment of Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University appears to be taking a different shape as the indigenes of Lagos and staff of the school insist on an indigene as VC as against Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s choice, writes Babatunde Bangbose, Lagos bureau
There is no gainsaying that the position of Vice- Chancellor of the Lagos State University, LASU, that became vacant on the 31st of October this year after the expiration of Prof John Fafunwa’s tenure, has continued to generate controversy. It is gradually becoming a survival of the fittest game than merit oriented process expected by staff, students and community of the state of excellence who are determined to have a Vice-Chancellor of merit order than what they use to have in the past.
The university that was established in 1983 to cater for the higher learning challenges of its citizens was said to have produced eight Vice- Chancellors including Prof Folabi Olumide, Prof Jadesola Akande, Prof Fatiu Ademola Akesode, Prof Abisogun Leigh, Prof Abdul Lateef Hussein and Prof John Obafunwa without giving preference to the indigenes of the state to hold the position which is necessitating the agitation from the Awori’s to produce an indigenous VC.
Nigerian Pilot Sunday investigation revealed that the real indigenes of Lagos, comprising of Awori and Egun are usually schemed out of the exalted position and authority, owing to their low educational profile. This is said to have been on for ages where most emigrants to the state occupied several position of authority and that prompted the common saying that Lagos is no man’s land.
It was learnt that the monarchs, politicians and who is who in the state have prepared this time around to ensure that only an indigene of the state will emerge VC of LASU, especially when their plan of having their son as governor of the centre of excellence in 2015 failed.
Apart from the Awori’s agitation to produce the next Lasu VC, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Lagos State University, LASU, Chapter, has urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State to consider merit in appointing the university’s new vice-chancellor from among the three shortlisted candidates.
Dr Adekunle Idris, the chairman, ASUU-LASU chapter, said this at a news conference recently, at the Ojo campus of the university. Idris said merit should not be compromised in the appointment of the VC, urging him not to act like previous administrations that selected the second or third candidates,rather than the first.
He said the staff unions and the university’s community were eagerly waiting for the governor to pronounce the new VC among the three shortlisted candidates by the governing council.
“Information reaching the union is that the selection committee, made up of a joint committee of senate and council, had concluded the processes for the appointment of the new VC.
“The committee, we learnt, shortlisted the three best candidates among the initial nine and had submitted the result to the governor for him to appoint one of them as the VC. Since December 9, when the report was submitted to the governor, no pronouncement had been made by the governoron the new VC,” he said.
Idris maintained that the silence by the governor was worrisome; stressing that the pronouncement was usually made within 24 hours after the committee must have submitted its report.
He said the action of the government was leaving room for suspicions and speculations. “A delay by the government will give room for the usual undue lobbying by interest and clannish groups with their shenanigans that have brought the University to where it is today.
“As a starting point, the union will resist anyone aside the candidate that came first. We know that the governor is an action and listening governor and will look into our superior logic. Merit should not be sacrificed on the altar of political gambling and consideration,”
Idris said the union had noted before the selection process that it was not interested in any of the candidates but that the best among them be appointed for fairness sake.
The ASUU leader said the union would not tolerate to work, a day longer with any VC appointed on the four years’ renewable term. “Therefore, there is the need to fast track the implementation of the bill for a single term of five years for LASU VC before the assembly to take effect from this tenure.
“We assume, this is part of the reasons the governor is delaying his pronouncement.”The All Progressives Congress, APC, is a party that loves merit and it is time to show that example.” This was accompanied with a copy of the letter written by the union to the governor, dated December 14, titled: “Appointing a Vice-Chancellor on merit: LASU deserves the best.”
It was alleged that in 2006, the second candidate, Prof. Lateef Hussain was appointed, and in 2011, the third candidate, Prof. John Obafunwa was appointed and the crisis generated through this bad choice was well known.
“Lagos is the Centre of Excellence, hence, the habit of always picking the second of third best as VC of LASU has to stop if the university has to move forward.
Nigerian Pilot Sunday gathered that the best three out of the nine professors initially shortlisted to contest for the post of the LASU VC were shortlisted by the selection committee. According to a reliable source within the university, Prof. Lanre Fgbohun of the University of Lagos came first; Prof. Hamidu Sanni of the Department of Islamic Studies at LASU came second.
The source said Prof. Olatunji Bello of the Lagos State University College of Medicine, LASUCOM, Ikeja, came third. This followed the interview held at LASUCOM on Dec. 7 for the prospective candidates that applied for the post of the Vice- Chancellor.
Further investigation by Nigerian Pilot Sunday revealed that Prof. Fagbohun, is an indigene of Awori, Lagos State, Prof. Sanni is from Oyo State and Prof. Bello is from Ondo State, but her mother is from Lagos State.
It was learnt that fourteen professors had applied for the post of the LASU VC within the six weeks of its advertisement. Nine professors out of the 14 were shortlisted after several considerations of their qualifications and pre-requisites for absorption.
Among the five candidates who were not shortlisted was the immediate former Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Obafunwa, whose tenure ended on October 31. Six of the shortlisted professors were from LASU, while the other three were from outside the institution.
The shortlisted professors were: Prof. Abolade Adeniji, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Senna Bakre, Former Deputy Vice- Chancellor Academics, Prof. Olatunji Bello, Lagos State University College of Medicine, LASUCOM, Others are Prof. Nurudeen Olasupo, Department of Microbiology, Prof. Hamidu Sanni of the Islamic Studies Department and Prof. Babajide Elemo of the Faculty of Science.
The professors from outside LASU are a professor from Texas, US., simply identified as Oki, Prof. S.A. Tella from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun, and Prof. Lanre Fagbohun, a former LASU staff now with the University of Lagos, UNILAG, who is said to be featuring on the good book of majority.
At present, Prof. Fidelis Njokanma, DVC, Administration, who was appointed November 11 is still steering the ship as the Acting VC of the institution through the university’s governing council, led by Professor Adebayo Ninalowo.
It was also learnt that Amendment Bill had been sent to the state Assembly for ratification. The bill proposed a single term of five years for the institution’s vice-chancellor. But weather the bill will see the light of the day or otherwise is yet to be known.