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Lagos Govt. promises fairness, transparency on LASU Vice-chancellor selection

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Lagos State Government has assured academia and Lagosians that an ongoing process for selection of a new Vice-Chancellor for Lagos State University (LASU) would be fair and transparent to avoid a repetition of issues that affected earlier appointment processes for the institution’s head.

It said that all activities that affected the two previous selection processes that were canceled have been noticed and that appointment of next Vice-Chancellor for the varsity would be based on due process and merit.

Giving academia and Nigerians assurance of fair and transparent appointment processes, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Tokunbo Wahab, said that to prevent a repetition was reasons the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who also doubles as Visitor to the institution, intervention and inaugurated a Special visitation panel to unravel mysteries that had made entire process previously unachievable.

Wahab, who gave this assurance on Thursday during an interview on a popular broadcast show in Lagos, explained that cancellation of two earlier processes undertaken to appoint a substantive Vice-Chancellor for LASU by the governor was basically to ensure all eligible candidates have equal opportunities to assume the seat.

Stating that the Visitor, by his actions, did not delay varsity head appointment but was only interested in a fair process for all candidates, the Special Adviser said the Governing Council was given two different opportunities to carry out the process but a deluge of petitions appeared even before the outcome of the process was made public.

He explained that the petitions received on the issue which prompted the governor’s intervention were huge and centered on non-adherence to the rules set for vice-chancellor selection for LASU.

Acknowledging that all qualified applicants had the right to contest for Vice-Chancellor, Wahab described the disqualification of a sitting Vice-Chancellor by the Pro-Chancellor as arbitrary, just as he affirmed that Sanwo-Olu does not have any anointed candidate but is only interested in due process and provision of equal level playing ground for all candidates.

His words: “By Law, there must be an advert that calls for applications from qualified candidates for the post of the Vice-Chancellor. The requirements for the post as contained in the advert must be ratified by a properly constituted Governing Council before publication. However, the advert was published without recourse to the Governing Council and was only presented to the body as a fait accompli, giving way to favoured candidates to emerge.

“Among the contentious issues were the years of experience of interested candidates on professorial cadre, which was benchmarked at five years. The Chairman was accused of suggesting names of preferred candidates to the Council at its first meeting. The Council that eventually ratified the advert and conditions published in the advert was not properly constituted, hence the candidates that emerged were selected and not appointed according to the laid down guidelines of the institution”.

He stressed that focus of the State Government was the constitution of a new Governing Council and a Visitation Panel that will ensure a free and transparent process of appointing LASU Vice-Chancellor.

“We desire a due and transparent process, which informed our stand that the appointment must be merit-based because you cannot build something on nothing; let the process throw up the best,” he said.

In response to the host’s expressed belief that Nigeria is a country where the leader has to micro-manage, the Special Adviser maintained that LASU is an independent institution but, as Visitor, Governor Sanwo-Olu has the prerogative of intervening to prevent a flawed process of appointing a Vice Chancellor for the University.

He spoke of politics on campuses of tertiary institutions, saying it is as tough and highly divisive as it is in the general political space. The Special Panel observed and reported a strong division among key stakeholders of LASU, Wahab said.

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