There is a bull in a China shop at the University of Ilorin and that is the accidental vice-chancellor of the university. It appears the ‘ancestors’ of the modern University of Ilorin, who risked everything to see this citadel grow to this height have miraculously gone to sleep and have left the fate of the citadel in the hands of a man programmed to destroy everything the university ever achieved. The heart of that academia must be panting for a rescue right now.
As a grateful alumnus, it is my practice to visit the university each time I am in Ilorin just to go round and admire my alma mata. My last visit was on June 21, this year, when I honoured an invitation by a ward in the Department of Performing Arts, to watch their project drama display, this one titled, “One Legend, Many Seasons”. I saw a university on a cliff hanger, an academic sanctuary already turned into “evil forest” with bushes and trees uncut and untreated, the likes you would see in “Igbo orumole”. I saw a surrounding breeding dangers and endangering the safety of students and staff alike, I saw an environment in a state of abandonment, I saw students in groups discussing how deplorable the university has become and I saw these staff in helplessness, lamenting and regretting the bad leadership that has been foisted on them.
University of Ilorin is reputable for her unbroken academic calender, it is appreciated for nonparticipation in ceaseless and frivolous strike usually embarked upon by national ASUU. This, it has enjoyed for almost two decades. Those who kept it this way are not stupid and their efforts are responsible for the certification of honour the university is bestowed upon today by the academic community. All these are about to stop – why ? – the VC in his mischievous and misplaced wisdom, suo moto, took away the soul of this honour and handed it to the striking ASUU to slaughter; he took the university back to ASUU national. This would mean, anytime national ASUU calls for strike, Unilorin must join. What an irony.
The VC argues that he needed to “rejoin” the ASUU in order to access a certain money due to the university from the federal government and that he could only access if he gets the support of the national ASUU. So the motive is for pecuniary benefit. How come his predecessor easily accessed the said fund without ASUU support? Anyway, that is what happens when you appoint a scrounger to manage your finances, it is a case of “Omo aije obe ri…”
I have also come to know that a certain group of individuals who are desperate to clinch the executive positions of local ASUU are exploiting the VC’s inexperience to their advantage and as such pushing him to commit administrative sacrilege by compromising the university’s age long tradition of success. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is now exploiting the ignorance of the VC, those who cannot fairly compete in certain areas are taking advantage of the VC’s skewed tribal agenda, identifying themselves as one of his tribal men and women and getting everything done in the easiest way even if the system would have to be distorted. This is what some of these elements are doing to have the control of local ASUU to become the local executives.
The secret of the reign of peace in unilorin within the last 20 years is the fidelity that successive managers have invested in – justice, equity and fair play in the appointment of staff, admission of students and appointment into offices within the university administration. The different constituencies are consulted in order to maintain a healthy balance. That is why the university has enjoyed unrivaled peace for many years. In the same vein, attention is given to proportionate representation between the two major religions – Islam and Christianity. The divide and rule attitude of the VC clearly shows that he is out to destroy this fabric, that is if he hasn’t done so already. It’s sad and shocking to observe the VC is hellbent on compromising the interest of his own faith, Islam, in order to be seen to be neutral. Such hypocrisy! Every decision he has taken is targeted against Islam and Muslims, alienating members of the Muslim community in the process. This is why most people are wondering if the man is not on an espionage mission to destroy the university. All genuine stakeholders must be curious.
That the VC, Prof. Abdulkareem, is executing an ethnic agenda is not in doubt, depriving other ethnic groups to the benefit of his kinsmen and women only. In his bid to please his community, he continues to exhibit deep-rooted hatred for other communities including even those within the same senatorial zone with him.
Like play like joke, the vice-chancellor is undoing everything his last four predecessors have achieved and everyone is playing nice to his destructive orchestrations. Right thinking people should not stand by and watch.
When the diplomacy of silence isn’t yielding results, conspiracy of silence is a crime. This is the university that has built into an enviable height despite the odds, genuine stakeholders should not look away while the VC continues in the deliberate destruction of the citadel.
This is a clarion call to all those who worked (and still working) for the soul of the university to survive the past and present storms, those who risked everything for the university, they should come out and come open to make a statement against this maladministration. Here is calling on the comity of former vice-chancellors of the university, traditional heads, past student leaders, distinguished alumni, the Muslim community, the non-indigenous groups and other critical stakeholders to join hands by stopping this bull in a China shop. We all have an urgent role to play to rein in this thunder clap before it turns into a Tsunami that will destroy all that the university stands for.
Owolabi writes from Lagos.