By Adesina Wahab
The Vice-Chancellor, Lagos State University, LASU, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, SAN, has vowed to leave the university in a healthier financial state than he met it over four years ago when he came into office.
Fagbohun is the eighth substantive VC of the university, and his five-year tenure will lapse in January 2021.
He gave the assurance on Tuesday when the LASU Financial Sustainability Committee submitted its report to him at the Vice Chancellor’s Conference Room, Senate Building, Main Campus, Ojo.
Fagbohun, while commending the committee, under the Chairmanship of Professor of Physical Planning, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, said the university management’s resolve to ensure that the university remains financially sustainable in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic informed the creation of the Committee.
“It was COVID-19 that informed the formation of this Committee. When you look at the roadmap of our administration, we have five imperatives to build peace, entrench academic excellence, ensure the financial stability of the university, consolidate on the gains of previous administrations and be a veritable partner to the government. For us, we have achieved almost all of these imperatives and we were already cruising home.
“However, one of the biggest challenges that we have had to face is being financially sustainable in the face of lean resources. To achieve this, we continued to engage the state government to increase our subventions enough to take care of salaries with the assurance that we would build our internally-generated revenue to drive development within the university.
“It was at the time that our request finally received the governor’s attention that COVID-19 happened, forcing the government to divert priority to other pressing areas.”
Prof. Fagbohun further assured that with the work of the Committee, the university is on its way to becoming financially sustainable, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant dip in the university’s resources.
“As a management, we decided that the incoming Vice-Chancellor should not inherit the same financial challenge I encountered. We must make the university financially sustainable such that the new administration will not have to start from ground zero. If we want to be fair to the system, we must not leave this university in limbo.”
On the composition of the Committee, he said: “In putting this Committee together, we wanted people who can ask questions, disagree and agree. We wanted critically minded people drawn from all sections of the university who can have diverse but robust perspectives to come up with the kind of answers we want. I thank the members of this Committee for a great job done. Gold and silver we don’t have, but you can be sure that we will express our appreciation to you. ”
He also expressed his joy at the immense support given to him by the university community so far:
“When you see everyone working with one purpose, there is no way you won’t achieve success. I know for a fact that the kind of robust support that I have enjoyed in this system, I am not sure I can enjoy more than that anywhere else. The people of LASU have been there for me. They don’t give excuses, call some of the officers at any time of the day and are available. That is why my memoir will be written and will mention people ‘s names.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, while presenting the report, assured that, if implemented, the report would enhance the university’s financial position in the coming years.
He said: “When you appointed us about two months ago, what we set out to do was look at where we are, where we want to be in five years, and what can we do to get there. You gave us two weeks to submit this report but we recognised that to do something that will stand the test of time, we needed more time.
“This report will help the new VC to quickly identify what direction to follow financially. With this, it is my belief that the next VC will not be running around to pay salaries.
“I thank you for your love for this University. You could have just finished your tenure and go, but you are already thinking ahead about the next administration. It means you love this University and you have seen it as a part of you. I can’t remember any VC that voluntarily handed over to another VC in LASU, but I believe that by God’s grace when the time comes, we will have a successful baton exchange.”
The Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Lagos Chapter, Comrade Agnes Sessi, who is also a member of the Committee, in a brief remark, thanked the Vice-Chancellor for the leadership he has provided in the last four years and prayed that in future, the Vice-Chancellor would have another opportunity to serve the university in a new capacity.