Education

4 months after Fagbohun’s exit, tussle for LASU VC seat remains unresolved

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On Monday, January 11, Prof Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun, SAN, NPOM, bowed out as the 8th substantive Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University, LASU, after five years in the saddle.

The Akesan-born professor’s tenure was, according to many, marked by remarkable achievements and a stellar performance — but not without some controversies.

One thing, however, is undeniable. Fagbohun, despite his shortcomings, transformed LASU from an institution which used to be known for its infamous internal crisis to a “world class” university — his way of describing the new LASU under his watch. The institution is currently the second best university in Nigeria according to the Times Higher Education (THE) World Ranking.

By practice and backed by extant law, the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of a state-owned institution like LASU is made by the governor based on the recommendation of the VC selection committee as set up by the Governing Council.

Initially, the top contenders for the seat were Professors Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, Olumuyiwa Odusanya (both of the institution’s College of Medicine) and Kabir Akinyemi of the Faculty of Science.

The joint council and senate selection committee, however, shortlisted Professors Olumuyiwa Odusanya, Kabir Akinyemi and Senapon Bakre, excluding Olatunji-Bello, whom many opined was the most qualified, though not an indigene of Lagos State — an unwritten criteria for the job.

Wife to a Lagosian and the serving commissioner for environment and water resources Tunji Bello, the renowned physiologist had a brief stint as Acting Vice Chancellor after the disreputable ‘Hussein-must-go’ saga which saw the ouster of then Vice Chancellor, Professor Lateef Hussein.

Some LASU workers, in a petition signed by Olalekan Akinloye and Olatunji Alonge dated December 30, 2020, urged the governor to reject the recommendation made by the Vice-Chancellor Selection Committee which they accused of failing the prerequisites for the position of Vice-Chancellor.

They also kicked against the candidature of Professor Odusanya, saying he doesn’t possess a PhD Degree talkless of supervising PhD students, as stated in the advertisement for the office.

In reaction, Lagos State Governor and Visitor to Lagos State University (LASU), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on January 18, cancelled the process set up for the appointment of a substantive ninth Vice Chancellor of the institution and further directed that a fresh process that would terminate in forty five days should commence immediately.

In a statement, his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said the governor’s “decision on the cancellation came after a thorough investigation and stakeholders engagement, which were necessitated by various petitions against the selection process.”

Professor Oyedamola Oke, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), was immediately elected by the Senate to serve as acting Vice-Chancellor.

Most recently, in February, the university’s Governing Council shortlisted nine professors for the coveted office out of 13 applicants.

BlackBox Nigeria learnt that the Council adopted an unconventional interview method as the nine professors were made to write a computer test on March 11 at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Ikeja.

Of the shortlisted nine, seven are internal professors of LASU, the remaining two are from other institutions.

Noticeably, the trio of Prof. Akinyemi Kabir, Prof. Ibiyemi-Bello Olatunji and Prof. Olumuyiwa Odusanya made the shortlist.

Other internal candidates include Prof. Elias Wahab, current deputy vice chancellor, Prof. Sena Bakre, Faculty of Science, Prof. Dideolu Awofoju, Namibia, Prof. Abiodun Adewuya, acting Provost of LASUCOM and Prof. Ayodeji Badejo, former Dean, Faculty of Education.

Details about who passed and failed the test are yet to be known, as at the time of writing this report.

Many remain curious about who emerges as Fagbohun’s successor, particularly at this crucial point that LASU is in dire need of a Vice-Chancellor who can keep up with the progress it has largely enjoyed in the last five years.

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