By Adesina Wahab
A group of lecturers at the Lagos State University, LASU, The Liberators and members of the Alumni Association of the institution have appealed to the Visitor to the University, who is also the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to allow merit to prevail in the selection of the ninth substantive Vice Chancellor of the institution.
The Liberators, in a memorandum to the Visitation Panel set up by the governor to look into certain things in the university, noted that anything short of selecting the next VC on merit would reverse the gains recorded in the university in the last few years.
The memorandum was signed by Professors Adeleke Fakoya, Biodun Akinpelu and Sola Fosudo on behalf of other members of the group.
The group noted that institutional peace among other factors helped propelled the university to number two in the country and among the best on the continent and that the university should consolidate on the gains rather than eroding them.”The Liberators have been the voice of the New LASU in the last five years –beginning with the remarkable appointment of Prof. Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun, SAN, as Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University (2016- 2021).
In those five years, we worked with the university management, and staff and students to ensure a hitch-free teaching-and-learning system. We also worked with many prominent people in the Lagos State Civil Service to procure support and understanding for the university that offers us and our children something more than the ordinary Nigerian university gives its staff and students: a sense of pride.
“This sense of pride is the product of communal love, institutional peace and administrative wisdom – three main ingredients that won for LASU all the accolades arising from very impressive local and global rating,” the group said.The Liberators wondered why two selection exercises of a new VC were truncated when the processes involved were approved and done with the knowledge of the state government, the owner of the school.They challenged the state government to let the interviews conducted for candidates be aired on public television.”We would like to point out the obvious: Lagos State is called the Centre of Excellence.
As such, we expect us to recognize and honour excellence in all our conduct, especially if the process that produced that excellence is democratic. “Thus, we would like to ask the following questions: “Who should be the most authoritative person to know who becomes the next Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University? Is it the Governor to whom the entire recorded process was submitted (as we gathered), or a few people who only want to create disorder in the system for their own self-interest? “Has the government seen or not seen the recording of the whole process? Did the government not have representatives at the interviews? Was there any misconduct associated with the interviews or with any of the interviewers? Would it be fair to the candidates or exemplary to our students and other citizens to keep cancelling a process as simple as the present one and expect commendation from observers across the world? “Why can’t the Governor go by the decision of the Governing Council that he himself empowered to conduct the interviews and allow anyone contesting the result to seek redress in court? Contrary to government’s allegation of an impasse arising from the interviews conducted to appoint the next Vice Chancellor for LASU, we (the Liberators) would like to disabuse the government itself that not to conclude the process that it consciously set in motion is the real catalyst for the impasse. While we do not want to hold brief for any of the candidates who were interviewed, we think it’s a gross disservice to academia to truncate a process that the government itself initiated.
The fall-out of the truncation is predictably a termination of all meaningful academic work and of institutional growth.
“Our advice: Lagos State Government should uphold the result of the interviews. This is the surest path to institutional growth as far as LASU is concerned, given the present set of circumstances,” the group stated.In a similar vein, the LASU Alumni Association in a statement signed by the National President, Maj-Gen. Cecil Esekhaigbe (Rtd) and Olawale Anthony, National General Secretary, appealed to Sanwo-Olu to allow merit a place while selecting a new VC for the university.
“The Lagos State University Alumni as the legitimate alumni body of the university and a concerned critical stakeholder, will not support or advocate for any candidate in particular.
However, we are of the view that to sustain the institution’s lofty height, there is need to allow merit to prevail. We whereby use this medium to reassure our esteemed members across the globe, as well as well-wishers, that our confidence in the Visitor of the university, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to appoint the best candidate for the exalted position of the Vice Chancellor of the institution based largely on merit and in accordance with the entrenched and statutory procedures is unwavering,” the association said.Recall that after two selection exercises were cancelled by Sanwo-Olu, he set up the Prof. Bamitale Omole-led Visitation Panel to probe the activities of the university.