The governing council of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, has submitted three names of successful candidates to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for a possible appointment as the institution’s 9th substantive vice-chancellor.
The decision followed the result of the interview conducted for five candidates by a seven-member joint council and senate selection committee.
Members of the selection committee include three professors who were drawn across various departments to represent the university’s senate. They are Barakat Animashaun, Olatunde Owolabi and Babatunde Yusuff. The latter is the incumbent dean of the university’s faculty of business administration.
Those that represent the governing council on the committee include the incoming managing director of MTN in Nigeria, Karl Toriola; a lawyer and managing partner of AEC Legal, a law firm, Anu Eso, and an unnamed female member of the governing council, while the council’s chairman, Adebayo Ninalowo, doubles as the chairman of the committee.
The interview, which held on December 21, was attended by a professor of Physiology and incumbent director of the university’s directorate of advancement of the vice-chancellor’s office, Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello; a professor of Public Health and incumbent director of the university’s research and innovation unit, Olumuyiwa Odusanya, and a former chairperson of the university’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who was later appointed dean of students’ affairs, Kabir Akinyemi.
The other two candidates who took part in the interview are a former deputy vice-chancellor and professor of food and industrial microbiology, Sena Bakre, and Omotayo Awofolu from the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Four other applicants for the position including a former vice-chancellor of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Sherifdeen Tella; LASU’s immediate past deputy vice-chancellor in charge of academics, Olumuyiwa Noah; Aderemi Oki from Prairie View A&M University, Texas, United States of America, and Hakeem Tijani from National Open University, had earlier been screened out for their alleged failure to meet the requirements set for the applicants.
Premium Times is reporting that the trio of Odusanya, Bakre and Akinyemi made the list of the three nominees presented to the governor through his special adviser on education (SAE), Tokunbo Wahab.
A government source briefed about the matter, who does not want to be named, that while Mr Odusanya scored 90 per cent to rank first, Mr Bakre came second with 72.5 per cent. Mr Akinyemi, who ranked third on the list, scored 68.8 per cent.
Mr Akinyemi was trailed by Mrs Olatunji-Bello, who is vying for the office for the third time with 68 per cent while Mr Awofolu is said to have ranked fifth with 65 per cent score.
“The list has been forwarded to the SAE and I’m aware he already received it via a courier service on Tuesday morning. The young man, I mean the SAE ran away from Lagos over this thing because the pressure was very much. So, the list had to be ferried to him in London where he is presently,” the source said.
Furore over selection processes
With the university’s incumbent vice-chancellor, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, billed to complete his five-year single term of office on January 11, there have been controversies surrounding the selection of his replacement.
Mr. Fagbohun, a professor of Law and senior advocate of Nigeria, resumed as the university’s 8th substantive vice-chancellor on January 11, 2016, after his predecessor, Oladapo Obafunwa, was chased out of the university’s main campus in Ojo more than eight months to the expiration of his tenure by protesting workers.
Mr Fagbohuns tenure was also characterised by rancour, especially between the university management and the leadership of ASUU. However, during his tenure as vice-chancellor, LASU was ranked Nigeria’s second best university in the 2020 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.
But as Mr Fagbohun’s tenure winds down, there have been accusations and counter-accusations among stakeholders on who is in the best position to take the baton from MrFagbohun.
Government, university keep mum
Meanwhile, both the government and the university management have decided not to speak on the processes, saying such comments would be detrimental.
The SAE, Mr Wahab, in a telephone conversation with our reporter, said it is not in his character to speak to the press on a matter that is yet to be concluded.
He, however, noted that the best decision would be made on behalf of the people of the state. He cautioned stakeholders to always verify information available to them before airing their views, saying their position could affect the whole process.
“One thing I know for sure is that the governor would not be swayed by sentiments and the undue noise. We experienced the same over the appointment of rector for the Lagos State Polytechnic but he stuck with the best. So the best decision would be taken on this as well,” Mr. Wahab said.
Meanwhile, the outgoing vice-chancellor refused to speak on the matter. He said God had been gracious to him within the last five years of his administration, and that he would not want to stretch his luck too far.
Mr Fagbohun said his prayer was that the best should be selected for the university, noting that all the shortlisted candidates are eminently qualified “but the selection committee is better equipped to do justice.”