The leadership of Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates’ Association (UNIFEMGA) have watched with dismay the drama and aggression displayed by alleged indigenes of Ile-Ife protesting the recent announcement of the result of the selection process for the new Vice Chancellor by the Chairman of the Governing Council of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
We are seriously disappointed and condemn the actions of the protesters who were reported to have attacked University security staff and students and were seen on social media threatening and cursing with charms and traditionalists’ paraphernalia, key personalities they believed to be behind their ‘woes’. While the association recognizes the right of any aggrieved group to express their grievances peacefully, all elements who choose to show their grievance by causing havoc should be identified and disciplined appropriately by the relevant authorities.
All institutional appointments, be it Federal or State, need to first and foremost be on merit based on specific laid down criteria. It is only by sustaining this that we can expect any kind of growth for such institutions, much less institutions for learning and culture. It is on this basis that we see qualified people from various States going to head institutions away from their home states or even towns. And even, Ile-Ife indigenes have benefitted from such appointments in other Federal institutions like Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA). We have seen repeatedly how failure awaits any organization or institution that chooses criteria other than merit to appoint to positions.
UNIFEMGA does not ignore the right of any group to aspire for headship of any institution perceived to be in their domain. However, this has to be approached with civility and strategy. Such aspirations and agitations have occurred in other States and institutions with several successful albeit while exploring maximum understanding of the established processes and applying dignified pressure. What we witnessed in the last week at Ile Ife is an unbecoming show of shame which all respectable persons have distanced themselves from including the Traditional Religion Worshippers Association, State of Osun (TRWASO) who the protesters posited to be representing.
However, for critical minds, with every agitation comes some insights and learning which UNIFEMGA wishes to call to the attention of OAU Management. We call on the University Governing Council and indeed the Visitor, to revisit the policy for selection for all key positions in the university to be VISIBLE, TRANSPARENT and FIXED for a period so all potential aspirants can work between one period to the next to be the most suitable candidate without the criteria being slightly tweaked to be perceived to favor any candidate. Any new criteria that will disadvantage any potentially qualified aspirant cannot be introduced mid-term. That will bring the process closer to equity as humanly possible. And only God is Perfectly Just.
We also call on other external stakeholders within Ile Ife who may have other issues with the school management not to use this opportunity to destabilize the school for the sake of the students and the ordinary people who earn their daily bread from and around the university.
We call for calm by all parties to allow for dialogue. Staff and Students should please not react to any provocation nor retaliate any aggression but allow the authorities take control and deal with the situation. We recognize the intervention of the Commissioner for Police and other well-meaning Nigerians that has led to the current cease fire. We hope that this will pave way for mature dialogue that will lead to a win-win situation for all parties.
Engr. AbdulFattah Olanlege
NATIONAL PRESIDENT, UNIFEMGA
ALHAJI R.A Ebiti
Chairman, Board of Trustees, UNIFEMGA