In his reaction to numerous petitions against the selection process for a new vice-chancellor for the University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State, the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, has called for a fresh selection process.
In his letter dated November 18, and addressed to the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abdulrasheed Abubakar, the minister also announced the withdrawal of the ministry’s representatives from the governing council of the university.
The minister mandated the NUC to communicate the decisions to the institution’s governing council through its chairperson, Joshua Waklek.
The minister’s letter, which is referenced; FME/PS/606/C.I/III/146, and signed on his behalf by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Sonny Echono, advised the governing council to reconvene immediately to nominate another council member, “who is not a member of the senate to serve on the selection committee, in place of the withdrawn member representing the ministry.”
The letter further reads in part; “Council should review the entire process leading to the impasse in the appointment of a new vice-chancellor, including repeating the online selection of the representatives of the senate; the vice-chancellor should recuse himself from the envisaged senate meeting;
“All the 18 applicants who had initially satisfied the requirements outlined in the advertisement for the position of the vice-chancellor should be re-invited, and the final selection process must be conducted in full compliance with laid down procedures in an open and transparent manner, and in total compliance with the provisions of the Universities Miscellaneous Act (2007).”
The NUC, in turn, wrote to the chairperson of the governing council in a letter dated November 23, 2020, and titled; “Re: Appointment of a New Vice-Chancellor for the University of Ibadan.” The letter was signed on behalf of the executive secretary by his deputy in charge of general administration, Chris Maiyaki.
NUC advised the governing council to immediately implement the steps outlined in the directive, “while updating the honourable minister of education, accordingly.”
University’s senate reconvenes
In what many stakeholders have described as a desperate move, the university management on Tuesday held an emergency meeting to review the directive and immediately announced the process for another round of election to select two members to be on the council’s selection committee.
The meeting, which was chaired by the deputy vice-chancellor in charge of academics, Adebola Ekanola, did not wait for the outcome of the governing council’s two-day special meeting which has been scheduled to hold between today (Wednesday) and tomorrow.
Some members of the senate and contestants in the annulled senate election of September have criticised the “hurried and desperate” process, with some of them opting out of the election.
They argued that the letter the university management was acting on was not addressed to it, and was only delivered to the governing council on Monday with the council “just planning to meet on Wednesday.”
“So how did the senate know about the directive of the minister? Why not await the response of the governing council before taking action? It is a desperate move by the outgoing leadership to continue in its discredited manipulative means of securing victory for the VC’s anointed candidate,” one of the senate members, who preferred not to be named, told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone.
The outgoing vice-chancellor, Idowu Olayinka, is billed to end his five-year-tenure on Monday, November 30.
Many have accused Mr Olayinka of manipulating the process to ensure the emergence of his deputy in charge of administration, Kayode Adebowale, as his successor.
The fresh senate election has been scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Trenchard Hall on the campus.
A decision extract issued by the deputy registrar in charge of senate, admissions and affiliated institutions (SAAI), Morenike Afolabi, noted that the decision to hold the election was made at a special senate meeting held on November 24.
The extract, states that; “Consequent upon the directive of the Federal Ministry of Education, that a fresh election of Senate Representatives on the Joint Council/Senate Selection Board for the appointment of Vice-Chancellor be conducted, Senate at its Special meeting decided that a manual election be held on Wednesday, 25 November, 2020 between 10.00 am and 3.00 p.m. The election will take place in Trenchard Hall.
“Senate also requested the Registrar to provide the following documents to members in preparation for the election; updated senate list, and the list of proposers and seconders of nominees.”
Candidates opt out
In his response to the request for his tellers (agents at the poll), Victor Adetimirin, a professor of Plant Breeding and Crop Production, said he was no longer interested in the election.
Mr Adetimirin wrote the deputy registrar via a short message, saying; “I read your text of 5.08 p.m. in respect of the fresh manual election of Senate representative on the Joint Council/Senate selection Board for the Appointment of Vice-Chancellor, requesting for my tellers at the election to be held tomorrow, Wednesday 25 November, 2020- less than 24 hours away.
“Given the very short notice, I write to formally withdraw as a candidate in the election. I will not be available to participate in the election. Kindly remove my name from the list of the candidates. Consequently, there is no need for me to have tellers at the election.”
Similarly, another candidate for the senate election, Oyesoji Aremu, said he was not at the emergency senate session, and so “I’m not privy to any decisions so taken. And there isn’t any release to that effect even till now. Besides, why the haste?”
He added that; “Two, asking me to submit two names impliedly mean I consent to an election in less than 24 hours which is not democratic. Three, the request did not factor my emotional wellness and physical availability for such a huge task. Consequent on the above, I decline as requested.”
The don further advised the management not to attribute the outcome of the exercise to him in any way.
On his part, another candidate, Adesoji Fasanmade, said the hurried process simply amounts to fraud, saying the fundamental issues requiring resolutions are yet to be attended to.
The professor of Physiology wrote; “I am officially withdrawing my candidature from the election of tomorrow. I noticed that the fundamental issues are yet to be addressed and the rush to have an election within a few hours of taking the decision is to me tantamount to fraud.
“Consequent upon this, I am requesting that my name should not appear on the ballot paper, and I will not hesitate to view inclusion of my name on the ballot paper as an infringement on my fundamental rights.”
Also, a professor of food technology, Rahman Akinoso, said; “As an individual, I have decided to boycott today’s election. I will not promote illegality by voting.”
The University of Ibadan has been enmeshed in crisis in the last couple of weeks over theappointment of a new vice-chancellor.
The incumbent vice-chancellor, Mr Olayinka, has been accused of manipulating the selection process.
Following protests by the striking non-academic staff unions under the umbrella of Joint Action Committee, the governing council recently announced the suspension of the process.
The JAC comprised the university’s chapters of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union.
The unions alleged manipulation of the five-member selection committee through the election of the two member representatives of the university’s senate.
However, the senate of the institution has asked its members who alleged violations of their rights by protesting workers to formally lodge complaints with the police and other security agents.
The senate comprises academic staff including professors and acting heads of departments who are yet to be promoted to the rank of full-fledged professors.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the campus also threatened to fight back if any of its members is assaulted by the non-academic workers during any protest again.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his speech at the institution’s convocation ceremony, condemned the controversies surrounding the selection process and threatened consequences against anyone found guilty of manipulating the process.
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