BBN Special

Race For LASU’s New VC: Three Minus Two Equals One

By  | 

By Macaulay Jamiu

As LASU Community awaits the pronouncement of Mr Governor on the appointment of the 9th Substantive Vice-Chancellorship, the ball is set rolling on the shortlisted three distinguished personalities.

A sojourn into the academia portrays the scope or dimension below. One of the most memorable things that distinguishes the town from the gown is basically ‘contributions to knowledge.’

Contribution to knowledge goes beyond your height of qualifications but it revolves around your versatility in a microscopic area of specialization, consistent voracity for knowledge and painstaking efforts towards coming up with something new from the old which can be reduced into ‘scholarly research.’

Today, [in the 21st Century,] qualifications can be acquired either by politics or by plagiarism. Politics in this context has to do with the ‘caucus’ you belong to. It may be the power-that-be or perhaps emotion or sentiment may set in likewise gratification and such an individual can gainfully [or eventually] be crowned the preferred title as the situation warrants.

Similarly, ‘qualifications’ unite both the town and the gown but ‘contribution to knowledge’ distinguishes the two paradigms beyond reasonable doubts.

It doesn’t matter at what age an individual attains or acquires a qualification, what matters most is the circumstance that gave birth to the qualifications acquired.

A typical example is ‘Professorship.’ As much as it’s bagged on the ‘premise of promotion’ and its delivery of ‘Inaugural Lecture,’ there are more to it than the eyes can see or the mouth and the hand can critically dissect based on its unquestionable dignity.

Above all, the crux of the matter isn’t even about the title [at all or per se] it’s moreover about ‘the end justifying the means’ as a school of thought upheld. In otherwords, the justifiability must be weighed on the ‘platter of logicality…’

It’s quite obvious that from time immemorial, no individual can be crowned [named] the VC of any modern day university without having bagged a ‘Professorship’ primarily from a reputable University… This speaks volume about the importance of the position of a Vice-Chancellor.

Nonetheless, it’s quite obvious that unfounded sentiments are sometimes ascribed to the position but not giving premium to its merits. One of the arguments that often props up is the personality in question; he or she must be an ‘indigene’ of so-so-and-so as the case may be. This is not in any way tenable at all for the most sensitive leadership position of a ‘Citadel of Learning.’

A historical lens showcases that the crisis that had in time past surrounded the race for the seat of a Vice-Chancellorship in the early years of Nigeria’s Independence is saddled with bitter experience that is supposed to have been ‘nipped in the bud’ by now. The South-western universities in 1965 as a case in point were shrouded with unfriendly soporific political thunderstorms.

Hence the painful paradox of university professors quarreling bitterly on the campus over tribal issues are nothing to write home about. Interest comes first in politics while other factors trigger in plausibly when the motive is clear and accomplishable.

The University of Lagos broke asunder in 1965 because of a shift in the political balance of power from an Ibo Vice-Chancellor who’s replaced by a Yoruba.

It could be recalled that the first VC of UNILAG, Prof Eni Njoku was halted from running for a second term of office as he was supposedly replaced [overnight] by Prof Biobaku Saburi. The least of all the reasons justified was that, Prof Eni Njoku was not a Yoruba by tribe and tied to this, he’s not an ‘indigene…’

However, as UNILAG was boiling/melting with a spate of crisis that has to do with indigene[ship] versus non-indigene[ship]… so also was the University of Ibadan reduced into a sour but unforgettable political turmoil under the leadership of Prof Kenneth Dike.

Prof Kenneth Onwuka Dike who’s from the Eastern part of Nigeria was swiftly replaced with a Yoruba tribe based on the fact that, tribalism has been the order of the day. He said after the incident he witnessed that, ‘intellectuals were the worst peddlers of tribalism.’

A cursory look at the seat of the VC of LASU calls for caution and unending objectivity. In as much as the indigenes of the State might have argued in favour of their interest so also we’ve to watch out for the best; the man or woman that the cap fits without an iota of sentiment… It’s still fresh to establish that, when an outsider was tested as the VC of LASU, the Physics Professor from UI, he ended up being chased out of office after all forms of political bouts and industrial clouts distracted his reign [administration]. This is the factor of an outsider that set in while the insiders were unhappy about such a decision.

Recall that, meritocracy was sacrificed on the alter of tribalism and that was one of the things that placed UI and UNILAG on the pedestrian crisis…

For the fact that, Prof Fatiu Ademola Akesode was once rejected to be the VC of Olabisi Onabanjo University on the basis of tribalism opened up another window of opportunity for him to stamp his feet on the ‘sand of time’ as far as LASU is concerned.
At the moment, his name has been written in ‘gold’ based on his indelible contributions. Imagine if the sentiment that denied him the slot also came in a fresh dimension to deny him ‘a second chance’ it’d have been a different story at this juncture.

From a personal point of view, of all the three shortlisted candidates for the seat of the VC of LASU, Prof AbdulKabir Akinyemi and Prof Senapon Bakre pragmatically carry more weight than Prof Odusanya. They’re all seasoned Profs, no doubt but their track records speak volume about their personalities.

The exclusion of Prof Ibiyemi Bello is understandable as much as her antagonists made their points clear and loud. Based the premise of indigene[ship] or imposition, the argument lacks substance if really she’s qualified for the position. The attachment of her husband’s political portfolio in Lagos has nothing to do with the academic environment. These are two separate or different entities that operate independently without the least form of interference.

If the argument was premised on the fact that, she doesn’t have the ‘leadership charisma’ sequel to her previous positions as the DVC and Acting VC, that would be simply understandable. Moreso, if she’d luckily scaled through or made the final shortlist sent to His Excellency, there are indications that, with her husband’s political weight, dynasty or sagacity, she’d have emerged as the next VC. Her political structure and influential back bones lie more with the town and not the gown. It’s the ‘breathing space’ of the town that brought her to the limelight of the gown which has remarkably earned her a Political Cumulative Grade Point (PCGP).

An applause to Prof Ibiyemi Bello!

To start with, Prof Akinyemi has been a Human Right(s) Activist even before he became the Dean of Students’ Affairs, LASU. His activism was quickly nipped in the bud by Prof John Obafunwa when he compensated him with the long over due title of ‘Professorship’ and he’s subsequently made the Dean of Students’ Affairs.

From unionism to activism, he hitherto suddenly fell in love with the ‘seat of power.’ LASU Management that, in time past, he’d to constructively criticize all the past VCs right from his time as the ASUU-LASU Chairman. His impact remains indelible.

Nobody would ever believe that, activism can easily become something of the past as far as Prof Akinyemi is concerned.

Albeit the State House of Assembly played a significant role in the pursuits of his academic height as the list is endless.

Prof Senapon Bakre a daughter of the soil, no doubt but her administrative experience in the realm of LASU’s leadership position can’t be swiftly erased from the minds of the then LASUites when she’s the DVC.

Nevertheless, as Prof Akinyemi’s name has finally found its place on the Governor’s list for approval, there is high tendency that, he either emerges or Prof Odusanya is named as the new VC of the Citadel of Learning.

For Prof Akinyemi’s name to have been shortlisted amongst the three candidates, the following might have meaningfully played out:

A) He’d made amends amongst the anti-Obafunwa’s caucus who ended up chasing him (his boss) over night out of the seat of LASU’s VC. Although his political undertone during this period is very fresh in the minds of those who witnessed the scenario.

B) As a Lagosian, his name was penciled down for consideration.

C) Based on his activism right from the administrative days of Prof AbdulLateef Hussein up to Prof John Obafunwa, this might be a litmus [test] for him just like Gen Ibrahim Babangida did to Taiye Solarin and he purportedly messed up with the People’s Bank.

D) He’s very smart and intelligent. He’s been actively involved in LASU politics as he knows how to play the game impeccably.

Tied to this, his perfect ‘political game plan’ might have scored him cheap political points up to the level of his leadership pursuits.

The emergence of Prof Akinyemi would-be another spell, return of Prof John Obafunwa’s political dispensation. Recall that Prof Obafunwa’s era symbolized crisis. Secondly, as regards his positive contributions during these two administrations, Profs AbdulLateef Hussein and John Obafunwa, the adherents of these two personalities (past VCs) who are still left in the university system may want to pay him back in their own coin[s] (if he’s pronounced the new VC of the Citadel of Learning) as history archives his political antecedents.

Contrary to this, Prof Senapon is an advanced version of Prof Ibiyemi Bello. With her wealth of experience coupled with her ‘state of origin,’ she’s ‘good to go.’ The powers-that-be may not want a woman to succeed the incumbent or outgoing VC based on the feminist’s leadership approach, style or philosophy.

Lastly, Prof Odusanya is a keen loyalist to the Senate as well as the outgoing VC. He understands the system politically as well as the pros and cons of the current administration. Aside from the fact that, he had the highest score of all the three candidates, his political strength or will in the hands of the godfathers will go a long way in determining whether he’d be named the VC or not. Moreover, the internal politics has ended as the external, macro-politics has set in (which sets the tone or serves as an influence of the town over the gown).
This is one of the aspects whereby the town has power over the gown. The two are inseparable entities.

Before the Governor eventually takes his decision, after thorough scrutiny or consultation, the following are likely to be put into consideration:

The New VC must:

1) be someone who’s primarily Government-friendly. A loyalist to the visitor, the Governor in particular.

2) be someone whose political machinery must have won the hearts of the political cohorts to His Excellency such that, they’ll be the ones to hand pick the next VC.

3) be a man of the people as described by Prof Chinua Achebe (that’s the LASU Community which include[s] but not limited to, the religious bodies, the Students’ Union and the Governing Council as well as the Senate)…

Macaulay Jamiu wrote from Lagos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: