The controversies over the appointment of 9th substantive vice-chancellor at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, may yet be far from being over as the visitation panel appointed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has recommended jettisoning of the report of the second selection process, PREMIUM TIMES can exclusively report.
The panel, headed by the Pro-Chancellor of the Ekiti State University and former Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Bamitale Omole, on Monday submitted a three-volume report to Mr Sanwo-Olu containing its recommendations on ways towards resolving the lingering crisis over the appointment, among other pertinent issues.
According to reliable sources who are privy to the details of the documents but who do not want to be named, they said the panel has also recommended the engagement of consultants to join a new joint council and senate selection committee to be inaugurated by the university’s governing council.
It is, however, not clear whether the Adebayo Ninalowo-led governing council of the university is recommended for dissolution or not.
But strong indications have emerged that whether recommended for dissolution or not, some members of the council have resolved to resign for the council if the panel’s recommendation is adopted by the governor.
Earlier, some stakeholders had kicked against the choice of Mr Omole as the chairman of the special visitation panel, citing the succession crisis witnessed during his administration at OAU which led to his unceremonious exit from the university, as a valid reason.
Inside LASU’s crisis
After rejecting the first nominations by the university’s governing council earlier in the year due largely to complaints by some applicants and others, Mr Sanwo-Olu ordered a fresh process by the same selection committee of the governing council.
The council had recommended a professor of public health and director of the university’s research and innovation unit, Olumuyiwa Odusanya, a former chairperson of the university’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who was later appointed dean of students’ affairs, Kabir Akinyemi, and a former deputy vice-chancellor, Sena Bakre.
While Mr Odusanya scored 90 per cent to rank first, Ms Bakre came second with 72.5 per cent. Mr Akinyemi, who ranked third on the list, scored 68.8 per cent. The wife of the state’s commissioner for the environment, Mr Olatunji Bello, Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello was ranked 4th with 68.0 per cent, and was followed by Omotayo Awofolu from the Namibia University of Science and Technology, who scored 66.5 per cent.
Also, following the expiration of the tenure of the university’s 8th substantive vice-chancellor, Olanrewaju Fagbhun, on January 11, the university’s senate also elected the then deputy vice-chancellor in charge of administration, Oyindamola Oke, as acting vice-chancellor.
However, in March, after another round of rigorous selection processes, a fresh recommendation was made to the governor with the best three as Mr Odusanya, who scored 87.94 per cent; a professor of public health at Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, Mohammed Ibrahim, who scored 80.95 per cent, and a professor of public mental health and incumbent acting provost of the university’s college of medicine, Abiodun Adewuya, with 76.61 per cent, taking first, second and third positions respectively.
The incumbent deputy vice-chancellor in charge of academics, Elias Wahab, was ranked 4th with 76.61 per cent, while Olawunmi Badejo scored 71.99 per cent to be ranked 5th.
Others are Akinyemi in 6th position with 69.01 per cent; Olatunji-Bello ranking 7th with 68.95 per cent, and Sena Bakre with 66.4 per cent, ranking 8th. Awofolu, whose name also appeared on the list could not be graded as he was said to be absent from the interview.
Meanwhile, worried by the flood of petitions and complaints by interested parties, especially against the new list, the governor, on March 30, inaugurated a six-man special visitation panel.
The panel, which is chaired by Mr Omole, has as other members, former vice-chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, Joseph Ajienka; a renowned political scientist, Ayo Olukotun; former Lagos Solicitor-General, Lawal Pedro; former Registrar of University of Ibadan (UI), Olujimi Olukoya, and a director in the state’s public service, Funmilola Olajide, who functioned as the panel’s Secretary.
Panel submits report
After about five weeks of interactions and reading through voluminous memoranda submitted to it, the panel on Monday submitted its recommendations to the governor.
According to a statement issued by the governor’s spokesman, Gboyega Akosile, Mr Omole while presenting the report said; said: “Without a scintilla of equivocation in our findings, observations and recommendations are based on the memoranda submitted to us, the face-to-face interactions and interviews that we had with many of the people who held opposing and disparate position on the matter of the appointment of the 9th VC.
“Individuals, groups, associations, unions, guild, the academia and traditional rulers who submitted memoranda were given ample opportunities to present their submissions. The documents we are submitting to the Visitor of the university are final products of the careful and punctilious exercise for official consideration.”
He said the governor pledged that the report would be well utilised and its recommendations fully implemented in the appointment of the university’s new vice-chancellor.
He also said: “Today, I received reports of the special visitation panel on the Vice Chancellorship of LASU, which looked into the issues surrounding the appointment of the 9th Vice Chancellor, especially the remote causes of the impasse into the selection process and procedures for the appointment.
“This effort is geared towards ensuring that there is equality, fairness, transparency, openness and level playground for all in the process of selection and to ensure that the best and the most qualified person that will drive the established vision of the school’s founding fathers emerges at the end of the process.”
While the details of the report are yet to be made public by the governor, PREMIUM TIMES has gained insight into some of the key recommendations by the panel.
Reliable sources who are privy to the contents of the three-volume report but who do not want to be named since they are not authorised to speak on the matter, have confided in our reporters that key among the issues is the jettisoning of the second lists submitted to the governor so far.
PREMIUM TIMES is yet to authenticate the claim.
The sources also added that the panel has recommended the engagement of consultants ”to join hands” with the selection committee of the governing council during a new selection process to be put in place soon.
“The panel has also mischievously indicted the university’s registrar claiming he did not guide the selection committee properly. It is part of the ploy to justify its recommendation for the cancellation of the second process,” one of the sources said.
Not yet Uhuru
Meanwhile, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), a civil society group had earlier kicked against the nomination of Mr Omole as the chairman of the panel.
A statement issued by the group and signed by its deputy national coordinator, Ogunjimi Ayobami, and the national mobilisation officer, Michael Lenin, said Nigerians should not await any positive outcome from the panel.
The statement reads in part; “Without any intention to second guess the findings of the Lagos State University (LASU) visitation panel 2021 set up by the Lagos State government to look into the Vice Chancellorship selection crisis rocking the University, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) feels it incumbent to sound a note of warning that there is the likelihood that the panel’s objective may be derailed and justice not served due to the anti-worker and anti-student pedigree of the panel’s Chairman, Prof. Bamitale Omole.”
It added that; “As he exited the University after the expiration of his tenure, Prof. Bamitale Omole orchestrated an illegal imposition of an acting Vice-Chancellor to succeed him which led to a crisis for months. His imposition of Prof. Salami in contravention of processes and precedents was only stopped by protest and strikes of workers (NASU and SSANU especially) which had the school shut for months. It took a federal government intervention for the crisis to be resolved which led to the appointment of Prof. Elujoba as Acting Vice-Chancellor.”
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