At last, a new vice chanchelor for the University of Ibadan is expected to emerge shortly, but BAYO AGBOOLA reports that race to this level was herculean for all stakeholders.
As the race for the appointment of a substantive vice chancellor for the nation’s premier university, the University of Ibadan hots up and somehow volatile on a daily basis, all eyes are now on what becomes of this vacant position of VC for this 73- year old institution.
List of contenders.
At the moment, the 16 contestants in the race include Professors Babatunde Ekanola, Adeyinka Abideen Aderinto, Kayode Oyebode Adebowale, Aderemi Raji-Oyelade, Emiola Oluwabunmi Olapade-Olaopa, Temitope Alonge, George Olusegun Ademowo, Kolawole Clement Olusegun Olaniran, Babatunde Salako, Ganiyu Adesola Aderounmu, Ebenezer Farombi, Hakeem Babatunde Faweyinmi, Rasaq Olatunde Kalilu, Anthony Kolawole, Oladele Layiwola and Nazeem Oluwafemi Mimiko.
The election of the next UI vice chancellor is expected to end on October 14 with the announcement of the selected candidate. The incumbent acting vice chancellor, Professor Babatunde Ekanola of the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts was appointed by the university Senate as the acting VC in November 2020 for a period of six months due to crisis that trailed the succession plan of the former VC, Prof Idowu Olayinka.
Amidst the ingesting succession tussle, Professor Ekanola’s tenure was extended in June 2021 for another final six months following the last council’s failure to appoint a substantive VC for the institution.
When the new race commenced
The process for the appointment of a substantive vice chancellor commenced afresh after a decision to that effect was reached at a meeting of the university council presided over by its new chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. Against last minutes unexpected hitch, a new substantive vice chancellor is expected to emerge latest by October 15. Before then, Blueprint learnt that electronic voting would take place on October 12 to elect two Senate representatives on the board of appointment of vice chancellor to make up of the five persons which comprises the chairman of the governing council, two external members of council and the two Senate representatives for the final selection of the new vice chancellor.
For the University of Ibadan VC’s seat, no fewer than 15 candidates are jostling for the seat with top contenders in the race including the siting acting VC, Professor Ekanola, deputy vice chancellor administration, Professor Kayode Adebowale and former deputy vice chancellor academic, Professor Adeyinka A Aderinto.
Stakeholders efforts at peaceful transition
Towards ensuring a transparent process, the University of Ibadan Community Forum consisting of five unions within the institution, namely, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Students’ Union (SU), Non-Academic Staff Union of University (NASU) and the Non-Academic Technicians (NATS) on Monday October 4 organised a town-hall meeting tagged ‘The Voice of the Next UI VC; Who is Next?’ to size up those jostling for the institution’s number one seat. However, eight of the 15 contestants stayed away from the forum hinging their absence on one thing or the other. Here they were expected to tell the university community about their plans for the institution. Also the forum would have offered a platform for staff, students and other members of the university community to meet the aspirants, listen to them and ask them questions.
A group within the university, the Coalition for Autonomy of Universities in Nigeria (CAUN) impressed by the directive for fresh commencement of the selection process applauded new governing council for bringing integrity into the election process of the new vice chancellor by ensuring transparency and due diligence. It said that the coalition has been watching the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led council with keen interest in the steps taken thus far towards ensuring that there is fairness and justice for all the contestants.
The coalition in a statement by its national coordinator, Ayanteju Olaolu, tasked the governing council to remain neutral by creating a level playing ground for all the contestants so that the best candidate can emerge at the end of the exercise. It also noted that the council should beam its focus no the forthcoming election into the Senate representatives to maintain the integrity of the process.
This according to the coalition would go a long way to enable the new governing council guide the integrity of the electioneering process jealously by looking into the issues raised in this statement and as well to guide the integrity of the electioneering process jealously by looking into the issues raised in this statement to avoid falling into the pit dug by the past council.
Within the few days of screening of candidates for the coveted post, some of the candidates threatened massive boycott of exercise if the integrity of the process is compromised or should the governing council fails to guide the process to pave way for a level playing ground for all contestants. They claimed that the general mood within .
within the university community is that with the inclusion of Prof Ayoola and Prof Olapegba as member of the Senate representatives, the credibility and integrity of the new effort at electing new VC would be in doubt.
The fears over having free, fair selection reared its head again over the weekend with an education group, Education Governance with Integrity (EGI) calling on the Chief Oyegun-led governing council to disqualify two candidates contesting as Senate representatives on the board for the appointment of vice chancellor.
EGI in a statement by its public relations officer, Segun Adebayo, claimed that the names of Professor P.O Olapegba and Prof E.O Ayoola had allegedly been implicated as biased candidates in a petition before the council as routing for a candidate of the immediate past vice chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka.
The group stressed that the integrity of the process is being challenged with the refusal of about 10 candidates to appear in the recently held community forum where only one candidate from within and three from outside participated. It added, “UI awards certificates based on character and learning and people with dubious character should not be allowed to emplaced those less qualified to govern UI. It is a clarion to call on council chairman, Chief Odigie Oyegun and the alumni association to step up and ensure this is not pushed under the carpet. It is important to note that all candidates who contested in the previous discredited process have stepped down except the duo of Professors Olapegba and Ayoola whom petitions were written against them as having special interest in a particular candidate. This was why the Ministry of Education advised that the process should be kick- started.
“It is imperative the the council reviews this again ahead of the election and read the Instruction from the Ministry of Education on what needs to be done. May the University of Ibadan continues to tower highest.”
The election of the next UI vice chancellor is expected to end on 14 of October with the announcement of the selected candidate. Before then, electronic voting would have taken place on October 12 to elect two Senate representatives on the board of appointment of the VC. This is to be made up of five persons which comprises the chairman of the governing council, two external members of council and the two Senate representatives.
E-voting would thereafter hold on Tuesday, October 12 2021 between 9.00 am and 12 noon. The Senate meeting would start immediately after the election in Trenchard Hall. After the election on October 12, the screening to select six out of the 16 contestants would hold on October 13. The council would do the final selection of the six, interview them and ratify the appointment on October 14.
There is no doubt that all eyes would now be on the University of Ibadan Governing Council whether the council would be able to break the jinks of the lingering crisis over the exercise by a successful midwife of the selection of a new substantive VC that would be acceptable to all and sundry within the university community or keep the university community in a lingering and endless crisis. It is however expected that the outcome would usher in a new peace for the premier university.