The Coalition for Autonomy of Universities in Nigeria (CAUN) has followed events leading to the truncation of the process of selecting a Vice Chancellor for the Premier University.
It’s disheartening that the University of Ibadan could be thrown into such a disgusting state despite its history of setting the pace in administrative wizardry.
There were allegations that the immediate past VC was the campaign manager of one of the candidates who was described as his ‘anointed candidate’ vying for the position of the VC of the university. Meetings of his campaign committee were allegedly held in the VC lodge.
It is therefore better imagined what would have been the state of the institution if the immediate past VC had had his ways to foist an unpopular candidate on the people as a Vice Chancellor. It would have been a continuation of despotic leadership in the citadel of learning. No doubt the response of the government to calls by stakeholders in the University for intervention was a welcome, though avoidable, development.
The immediate past VC should be blamed for the threat to the university’s autonomy. His attempt to manipulate the system for his ‘anointed candidate’ was the real cause of the mess to which the university was plunged. Investigations revealed that the whole selection process was mismanaged, starting from the simple stage of congregation election, which adopted e-voting to technically disenfranchise some members of Congregation, to the election of representatives into the joint council and senate board to screen candidates vying for the position of the VC, which was also fraught with unprecedented controversies.
It is on record that the Immediate past VC contributed in no small way to the externalization by dispatching a delegation of senate to the NUC.
Consequently, series of protests and petitions rained torrentially on the campus. The once peaceful institution became a war zone. Things fell apart.
The Falcons were against the Falconers. And against all voices of reasoning, the immediate past VC became an arbiter in a matter in which he was supposedly the accused.
The University’s Governing Council, in questionable manner, insisted on continuing with a tainted selection process. This resulted in four members of Council, who were bothered by the behaviour of Council, to protest, and even staged a walk-out at a meeting of Council. Facts gathered from the University showed that some members of the Council might have been compromised.
There were allegations of money exchanging hands. The Chairman of Council also had a building named in his ‘honour’ when the process was ongoing. Members of the University Community were particularly disturbed at the decision of the University administration to bestow the chairman with such honour.
It’s on record that former Chairmen of Council such as AbdulRahman Okene, Iya Abubakar, Felix Ohiwerei, Gamaliel Onosode and Wole Olanipekun, despite their great contributions to the University as past Council chairmen, never had anything named in their honour.
For instance, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) built a state-of-the-art lecture theatre for the University’s law faculty with his own money, and this was the only building named after him. The only monument named after late Dr. Onosode was the park that a company he headed gave to the University to celebrate the birthday of this great Nigerian. There is no record of any building named after Elder Ohiwerei even when it was gathered that the Nigerian Breweries under his chairmanship spent a lot of money to develop the University.
We then wondered the reasons for the ‘gift’, offered to the ‘umpire’ when the game for selection of a VC was on? For us, it was no doubt an inducement meant to provide a smooth sail for the ‘anointed candidate’ of the out-gone VC.
There were petitions written by aggrieved contestants in the Senate election, for which the VC allegedly misguided the University governing Council against serious review. Implicating text messages were flying around, yet, the council went on with the selection process as if it was normal. Electoral malpractice was being celebrated in a university that should set examples for the public!
The short listing of candidates was by no means transparent as candidates were allegedly awarded scores not based on their performance. All these were in public domain. The University was being pushed to the edge of the precipice and thus required a rescue. Indeed there were cries to save the University from the singular destructive move of a man consumed by rage and intoxicated by power, and one fighting imaginary enemies. He became vindictive, and would have destroyed so much.
To us in CAUN, the immediate past VC, and the Council, should be held responsible for the inconclusiveness of the selection process for another VC, all due to his meddlesomeness in the process.
CAUN therefore support government efforts at restoring the dignity of the University of Ibadan, as long as people are not allowed to meddle again in the selection process. We seek a transparent and credible process to select a VC that will be acceptable to the people, and one to restore the past glory of our great institution. The autonomy of the university must be respected without manipulation and meddlesomeness. The situation must be salvaged.
This press statement is signed by Olayemi Olaoluwa, Coordinator, Coalition for Autonomy of Universities in Nigeria (CAUN). Nigeria.