The Coalition for Autonomy of Universities in Nigeria (CAUN) has watched with keen interest the contest for the position of a Vice Chancellor in the University of Ibadan. Our particular interest in the VC race in UI stems from the place of UI in University education in Nigeria. It is the premier university, and therefore deserves nothing short of the best in human management, an astute university administrator.
More worrisome is the introduction of some strange factors, besides academic records and administrative capabilities, into the University contest for VC position. The university system known for its strong, scientific and ethical processes of selection or appointment of Vice Chancellors has now been corrupted for other pecuniary purposes other than seeking academic transformation of the institution for real growth and development.
CAUN, a Coalition for Autonomy of Universities in Nigeria, consisting of Alumni of Nigerian Universities, cannot watch the gradual erosion of the tradition and autonomy of the University through introduction of extraneous factors like ethnicity, religion, political affiliations, god-fatherism and influence of external parties into the contest for VC position in UI.
All these will destroy the university’s enviable tradition which politicians are often advised to emulate.
This may not be too good for the image of this citadel of learning.
What the university of Ibadan, whose catchment area is the whole federation, requires is a well groomed university administrator, who has an excellent knowledge of the system, the host community and the people. He should be someone with international connection to attract funding and recognition to the university. One who really has a vision for a university that will really be autonomous in the sense of funding, introduction of new academic programmes and strengthening the existing one to make them contribute to national development.
The current global challenge by Covid-19 pandemic calls for a versatile and visionary leader. The University of Ibadan needs a leader who will completely transform the University, the people, system and structures, to make it the pride of all stakeholders. The incoming VC should be capable of maintaining an environment conducive for research and learning, a peaceful academic environment devoid of unrests. The recent past witnessed many of these.
The University of Ibadan needs a VC that is visionary, cerebral, socially connected, reliable, independent minded and youthful. And indeed we have these in all those contesting, hence we must only allow one who has the edge in terms of scoring based on merit and not mediocrity.
The legacy of University of Ibadan must not be destroyed by turning the race of UI VCship to that of ethnicity and religious game.
Let MERITOCRACY guides us back to the real autonomy of Universities in Nigeria, starting with the process of appointment of the Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan. The process must be transparent and acceptable to all stakeholders so as to guarantee an atmosphere of peace necessary for research, teaching and learning. Anything short of adoption of MERITOCRACY will have negative consequences on the future of education in Nigeria. It will set the tone for other universities, given that UI is the training ground for most prospective VCs of Nigerian Universities, Public and Private.
Tunde Olaoluwa, Coordinator, (CAUN).
6th Aug. 2020