FRANTZ FANON is reputed for his unassailable postulation that:“History will not forgive those men who have the exceptional privilege of speaking the words of truth, but have decided to take refuge in an attitude of captivity, mute indifference and sometime cold complicity”.
History will not forgive us if we fail to correct the wrong information encapsulated in pages 1 and 2 of a national newspaper of Friday, April 26, 2013 with the title, ‘How ethnicity, religion influence appointments of varsities officials’.
“The eventual emergence of Prof. Osayuki Oshodin in November2009 as Vice-Chancellor, even when he came third among the contestants in the order of merit…”.
It is pertinent to state that the above statement is not only untrue, but also an attempt to re-write the history of Professor Osayuki Godwin Oshodin’s meritorious appointment as Vice-Chancelor of the University of Benin.
It is worthy of note that whereas it was the law before Professor Oshodin’s appointment as Vice-Chancellor that the university Council would select three qualified persons for the office of Vice-Chancellor and send the list to the Federal Government (Presidency) which, in the exercise of its statutory power, appoints one of the three as Vice-Chancellor.
The newspaper allowed itself to be misled as the extant law that governed the appointment of Prof Oshodin (JP) as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin did not permit the submission of three names to the government.
So the issue of who was first, second or third on list does not arise. Rather, the university Council was conferred truly with autonomy by the extant law to appoint the best person in all ramifications as Vice-Chancellor. Prof Oshodin was meritoriously adjudged the best and was so appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin by the Governing Council of the University.
So where did the newspaper get the story of Prof Oshodin coming third from? Is it pure mischief or absolute ignorance? Unfortunately, the newspaper story did not state the last time a non-Yoruba person was Vice-Chancellor in the University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and the University of Lagos.
The attempt to draw a correlation between the agitation by a Benin Group and the appointment of Prof Oshodin as Vice-Chancellor is untenable. It failed, refused, and neglected to state that no Benin man was appointed Vice-Chancellor for the 40 years of the existence of the University of Benin until the meritorious appointment of Prof Oshodin as Vice-Chancellor.
The point that was unambiguously made at that time was there was a cabal entrenched in the university to frustrate the appointment of qualified Benin Professors as Vice-Chancellor in the University of Benin. It is the height of injustice, discrimination, marginalization and deprivation that prevailed for about 40 years in the university. No wonder the university had its attendant problems at the time.
It is on record that it is not only the Benin people that agitate for justice, fairness and equity which the human race always agitate for. I want to refer the writer of that article to the Vanguard Newspaper of Tuesday, April 10, 2013, at page 36, where it is reported that the Urhobos are advocating for an indigenous Vice-Chancellor for the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, FUPRE.
The writer may have forgotten that since the inception of the Delta State University, Abraka, ONLY Professors of the Urhobo stock have occupied the seat of Vice-Chancellor in the institution for obvious reasons. So will the writer hit the roof for what the indigenes perceive as their legitimate demand?
So, why the hullabaloos about the agitation of Binis in 2009 for one of their own to occupy the seat of Vice-Chancellor of the University if Benin after 40 years of the existence of the university in Benin City, even when they have lots of eminently qualified Professors, many of them also seasoned administrators, to occupy the position? Please people should leave the Binis alone!
Mr. OBASOGIE EDORODION, a social critic, wrote from Benin City, Edo State.