With the five year tenure of the Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University OAU, Ile-Ife, Professor Bamitale Omole gradually coming to an end, terminating precisely on June 23, 2016, the race to occupy the exalted seat is becoming keener by the day with interested parties scheming to have their candidates picked.
At the last count, 11 candidates showed interest on the post, out of which the Governing Council has short-listed the first six, who are billed for an interview session with the Council and the institution’s Senate Joint Committee.
Vanguard reports that no fewer than 11 candidates have indicated interest, with the duo of Prof. Afolabi Akindaunsi, Director of the International Office at the Federal University of Technology, FUTA, and one Prof. Charles Akinyokun, contesting from another university.
Other candidates, who are Alumni of the OAU, are the incumbent Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Ayobami Taofeek Salami, from the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Studies, Faculty of Sciences; the former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences; Prof. (Mrs.) Olabisi Aina; former Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, and former Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof. Yisa Kehinde Yusuf.
Others include the former Dean of the Faculty of Education and two-term Chairman of the Committee of Deans, Prof. Alao Kayode; former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Anthony Enisan Akinlo; former Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Design and Management, Prof. Ayo Ajayi and the faculty’s incumbent Dean, Prof. Bioye Tajudeen Aluko, among others.
But staff of the University, are currently divided over the criteria adopted by the Governing Council of the institution to short-list candidates for the position of Vice Chancellor.
While the the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), OAU branch faulted the criteria, the Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU, backed the governing council’s decision. On their part, the Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, OAU branch want the Governing Council dissolved.
This, they said, “was as result of the council’s ‘deliberate and irreparable violation of the Statue and Laws for the appointment of a new Vice-chancellor.”
The two unions stated that the Governing Council of the University, going by the statutes, was supposed to come up with a short-list of suitable candidates for the post of Vice-Chancellor based on advertised eligibility criteria.
They added that thereafter a Joint Council and Senate Selection Board were to be set up to critically assess the short-listed candidates. According to the two unions, the Governing Council of the University bungled the procedure by coming up with a short-list of suitable candidates for the post based on criteria beyond those advertised.
They further claimed that by this singular act of the Governing Council of the University, the role of the Joint Council and Senate Selection Board had been usurped. To show their agitation, members of NASU and SSANU had earlier protested on the university campus.
But on the contrary, some of the academic staff who spoke to our reporter explained that the OAU Governing Council’s actions were constitutional. Specifically Professor Akinola Fadahunsi, noted that members of NASU and SSANU misunderstood the autonomy bill granted by the Federal Government to Governing Councils of Universities.
He said, “The criteria drawn from the advertised eligibility criteria by Council are not new to the University system. And what are these criteria?
They are: Teaching, International Exposure, Publication, Fund Attraction, Supervision, Years as Professor, and References! “Out of these criteria, four – Teaching, International Exposure, Publication and Supervision – are regular promotion criteria in all Nigerian universities, especially if you are moving from the rank of Lecturer Grade 1 to Senior Lecturer and to Associate Professor and full Professor.
The remaining three – Fund attraction, Years of Professor and Referees – are usually used for post-professorial applications for different posts in university. “Beyond individual universities, all of the above criteria are unspoken criteria daily used to judge applications for fellowships, postdoctoral fellowships, grants and international prizes in different academic, research and intellectual disciplines and funding agencies all over the world. For the purpose of emphasis, it must be stated that the above criteria, comply with standard and best practices around the world.”
He further explained that the criteria would aid excellence for the production of a world-class Vice-Chancellor who can network with universities, investors and funders across the world to enhance best research and administrative practices for a 21st century university. He added, “Take fund attraction for example, one of the duties of Vice-Chancellors is to master the art of attracting investors and funders for the enhancement of universities for 21st century compliance in all domains for excellence and also for webometric ranking.
It is therefore, cardinally expected of an intending applicant for the office of Vice-Chancellor to have had an enviable track record of fund attraction. “What do you say about an applicant to the office of Vice-Chancellor who lacks international exposure? How would he or she administer a university without intellectual mobility to familiarize self with best research and administrative practices around the world?
The people that are opposed to these criteria are those who either do not understand what a University is or are playing sheer mischief.” Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a top management staff of the university said the Governing Council would ensure transparency and emergence of the best candidate. He said, “The position of both SSANU and NASU is disappointing.
They have only succeeded in the misinterpretation of the spirit of the OAU statue. It will be very wrong for anyone to wrongly interpret the statue both in spirit and letter. “The conditions followed during the last screening are not too different from the criteria set now. The only difference is that all the candidates qualified then and not all qualified now.”