The controversies trailing selection of a new Vice-Chancellor (VC) for Lagos State University (LASU), may be far from ending soon, following fresh allegations raised by senior academics before the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, picking holes in the advertisement put out for the post of VC by the institution.
The Dons added that going by the guidelines released by the 37-year-old institution in the new advertisement published on January 14th, 2021 for VC, it was apparent that the LASU Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee allegedly have a preconceived plan on the appointment, similar to the one it earlier presented before the governor which was cancelled.
These came barely two weeks after Sanwo-Olu cancelled the ongoing process and directed a fresh exercise to address grievances raised by stakeholders and that the fresh appointment process for a substantive ninth VC for the varsity must elapse on February 22nd, 2021.
The academics, who expressed their worries in a letter written to the governor, who also doubles as Visitor to the institution, and obtained on Saturday, commended the governor’s action and appealed that he intervene to save the reputation of LASU, saying, the unintended consequences from this matter if allowed to further degenerate may be difficult to manage.
They noted that the intervention of Sanwo-Olu, again, would prevent the immediate past LASU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun, and the Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo’s led Joint Council, that allegedly have certain applicants on their books to occupy the seat, from actualising their plan.
In the letter titled: LASU VC: Emerging Issues In The New Advertisement’ and jointly signed on behalf of Concerned Senior Academics by Prof. Oladimeji Kolawole, Prof. Olalekan Jaiyeoba and Prof. Adeleke Yusuff, the lecturers argued that Ninalowo-led committee be dissolved and reconstituted “within the ambient of the LASU Law of 2004”.
They stated further that for his apparent role in this matter, the Don should be recused from the entire process in order to ensure transparency and to fully reflate confidence within the system.
According to the concerned academics, reducing requirement for the exalted position to allow anyone with five years full Professorship to apply when the least years set by LASU’s contemporaries were seven years further indicated the plans ahead.
They said the requirement further denote that “many Universities that do not possess the calibre of highly revered scholars and long-standing academic traditions as LASU does, seem to have more qualitative aspirations and higher standard in terms of years of teaching and research experience of the personality of a Vice-Chancellor that they desire.”.
Expressing concerns over actions of the committees assigned by the governor to select suitable candidate for the institution, the academicians added: “One would have expected that LASU as a World Bank African Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Transformative STEM Education (ACEITSE) should be more self-driven in attracting the best”.
They stressed that the actions of the LASU Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee appeared that the members have priotised their interest ahead of the institution which they sworn to serve and protect.
“The general perception appears to be that the current Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo-led Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee is no longer capable of acting fairly within the crucible of openness and transparency in this matter. Sir, you may wish to find out why, in the midst of all the controversies that led to the cancellation of the previous exercise, Professor Ninalowo did not allow the Governing Council to see, much less deliberate on the contents of the new advert before rushing to press.
“The only thing that the Governing Council has done since the cancellation of the previous process is the ratification of the election of the Acting Vice Chancellor. Professor Ninalowo has been acting as if he is solely the Governing Council, and at every juncture, he gives himself away, as desperate to achieve a selfish agenda that can only be actualized by breaking with established traditions”.
Another issues further raised in the letter sent to the visitor, the lecturers alleged that both committees saddled with the responsibility to fill the vacuum for LASU VC seat have also claimed that any candidate with Postgraduate Medical Fellowship can apply since it was equivalent to Ph.D certificate.
This, they said, was in total contravention to Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) declaration in a memo released last year, a further clarification on its stance three years before, which it forwarded to all varsities including LASU that there was no certificate at par with Ph.D.
The academics disclosed that to upturn NUC stance, some members of the parties desirous to install their loyalist into office have went ahead to obtain an alleged illegal circular from the commission to back their claim over the LASU PhD/Fellowship controversy.
“The National Universities Commission has issued several memos with simple declarations that no other qualification is equivalent to a Ph.D. Apart from the 3rd March, 2020 circular signed by the Director of Academic Planning of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), Dr. N.H. Saliu, addressed to all Vice-Chancellors where he declared that the Postgraduate Medical Fellowship is not equivalent to PhD, there was also another letter dated 11th August, 2017 signed by Dr. G. B. Kumo, Director of Academic Planning of NUC which clarified that the PhD degree has no other degree or certificate equivalent to it.
“Sir, we believe that any recent circular generated from the NUC over the LASU PhD/Fellowship controversy that stands contrary to the previous public NUC position on this matter must have been influenced by a certain distinguished LASU Professor who was himself a former Executive Secretary of NUC. This would be in a bid to support a candidate who does not possess a PhD but believed to be favoured to become the next LASU VC by the immediate past LASU Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Chancellor”.