Editor's note: A public affairs analyst, Olalekan Akinloye, writes on the intrigues that have trailed the race for the 9th Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University with details on how the struggle for the position has exposed the discrepancies in the requirement for the position.
The tenure of the 8th substantive Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), Professor Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun, will end on Monday, January 11, 2021. However, there are a number of professors who have been shortlisted for the interview, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, December 21.
Among the five already shortlisted candidates, there are clearly two frontrunners, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello and Professor Olumuyiwa Odusanya both of the College of Medicine, Lagos State University. The other three contestants are not pushovers. They include Professor Senapon Bakre and Professor Kabir Akinyemi, both of the Faculty of Science, Lagos State University, and Professor Muyiwa Awofolu, Namibian University of Science and Technology.
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Professor Olatunji-Bello is not new to the game. This is her 3rd attempt at the goal, and the chances that she will be appointed as the 9th Vice-Chancellor are quite bright. She is a professor of physiology, an astute academic, and an administrator per excellence. Ibiyemi once served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and later Acting Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University. She is the current director of the Directorate of Advancement, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Lagos State University. Olatunji-Bello is also chairman of, 2020 National Working Committee of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO).
Professor Olumuyiwa Odusanya came to the limelight in LASU politics with his appointment as the director of research and innovation, Lagos State University, by the outgoing Vice-Chancellor. Odusanya is a professor of public health and consultant community physician. In his role in the directorate of research and innovation, he has to his credit two well organised research fairs in LASU in 2019 and 2020. What is interesting about his candidature for the position of the 9th Vice-Chancellor in LASU is how and why he has been shortlisted without a Ph.D. degree.
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Although he possesses the fellowship certificate of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, the advertisement for the position clearly states that such a candidate must be a scholar with significant impact in areas of international supervision and examination of Ph.D., and must also have supervised students (especially Ph.D.). You cannot supervise a Ph.D. if you do not possess a Ph.D. Degree. The question that is facing the joint council and Senate selection committee, headed by Professor Bayo Ninalowo, the chairman of the governing council is how it arrived at shortlisting Professor Odusanya a few weeks after it dismissed many academic staff across different cadres for not possessing Ph.D.
The question, however, is whether a university that is currently flushing out some of its academics without a Ph.D. on account of lack of academic progress can afford to have a Vice-Chancellor who does not possess a Ph.D. The recent call by some 'opinion leaders' in LASU that Governor Sanwoolu, the visitor, should pick the next Vice-Chancellor on merit has been described as part of a coordinated media effort set to intensify in the last week of the year to force the hand of government in appointing a candidate that enjoys the backing of the outgoing Vice-Chancellor and the chairman of council.
It is unclear yet where the pendulum will swing in this race for the position of the 9th Vice-Chancellor of LASU. Beyond the two leading candidates, the other three also have outside chances. Although Professor Akinyemi is also said to be statutorily unqualified, having not met the 10 years’ post-professorial experience stipulated in the advert. It is on the same basis of this 10 years’ post-professorial experience that a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) to the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, Professor A.O.K Noah was disqualified.
The call that merits should be considered on the appointment of the new LASU VC appears unwarranted, especially without a proper articulation of what merit in this case entails. Beyond the proxy war, all the five candidates have some merits, to a reasonable level. It is only the Governor and Visitor to the University, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu, who is bestowed by the LASU Laws of 2004 to make the choice among the shortlisted candidates after the Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee led by the Chairman of Council presents the details of the results of the interview to him. Whether the various political moves by the different parties will influence the Visitor’s decision, it is the LASU community that will bear the outcome, no matter how good or bad.
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