The authorities at the Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Osogbo, have suspended the selection process for the appointment of its fourth substantive vice-chancellor pending the determination of a pending legal case on the matter.

This was announced by the institution’s pro-chancellor and chairman of the governing council, Yusuf Ali, during the 10th convocation ceremony of the multi-campus university at its main campus in Osogbo on Tuesday.

Mr Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the process has been put on hold in the last one month following the decision of some concerned parties to approach the court for intervention.

He said as a law abiding institution, the ideal thing was to await the final decision of the court before the process could proceed.

“I must point out that I am aware that some members of staff felt that they have not been dealt with justly after seeing the advertisement that was placed for VC position and they have gone to court. And as a law abiding institution and as people who believe in justice, in the last one month, the process for the appointment of a new VC has been suspended until the court speaks because we are law abiding,” Mr Ali said.

The five-year single tenure of the university’s incumbent vice-chancellor, Labode Popoola, is expected to end on 4 November .

Controversy

As part of the selection processes, the university in July advertised the vacancy for the position of the vice-chancellor in the dailies.

The advertisement set the criteria to be met by willing applicants which include, among others, possession of PhD certificate, having a research gate score of 15.0 and 800 citations, publication of, at least, 50 research articles, 20 of which must have been published in what is called high impact journals “as defined by Thomson Reuters ISI and Web of Science.”

The criteria added that a minimum of 10 of the research articles in the high impact journals must have been published in the past three years, and that they must have ability to attract local and international research grants “with evidence of having won and led, at least, 10 local and internationally funded researches.”

But some concerned stakeholders have accused the selection committee of a predetermined agenda, saying the set criteria are alien to the institution’s extant laws and regulations.

For instance, on 17 August , 2021, the Osun State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) held a media briefing in the state capital and announced its rejection of what it described as the dichotomy between PhD certificate and medical fellowship.

Similarly, other groups such as the the Joint Action Committee of the staff unions on the campus and others under the banner of “Concerned and Committed UNIOSUN Professors” kicked against several other contents of the said advertisement, especially the request for submission of copies of applications to the office of the outgoing vice-chancellor.

“It is almost certain that the curriculum vitae of certain favoured candidates have been used in crafting the advertisement that appeared to have deliberately excluded candidates from Law, Management and Social Sciences, Education, Arts, Humanities and Medicine from the race,’ the concerned professors wrote in a letter addressed to the governor of the state and visitor to the university, Adegboyega Oyetola.

Appeal for autonomy

Meanwhile, the governing council chairman has said his team has no hidden agenda but to achieve the best for the 14-year-old ivory tower.

Mr Ali in his address at the convocation pleaded with the governor to ensure the autonomy of the university’s governing council in the selection of a new vice-chancellor, saying the progress recorded within the last few years shouldn’t be allowed to be overshadowed by political interference.

He said: “The only commitment the governing council under my watch has is to ensure excellence, through a fair and firm process comparable to best practises everywhere in the world. We assure all stakeholders that we have no personal interest to serve other than the best for our university.”

Milestone

Both the pro-chancellor and the vice-chancellor listed the successes recorded by the university within the last five years in the university, even as they thanked the governor, Mr Oyetola, and the university’s chancellor, Modupe Alakija, and others they described as pillars of support.

Mr Ali, who titled his speech; “End of a Chapter,” said the 10th convocation ceremony was very unique and significant in more ways than one.

“It marks a milestone being the 10th convocation and it marks the end of Popoola’s tenure as the vice-chancellor of this university.

“The Vice Chancellor’s un-renewable tenure will come to an end on the 4th November 2021. On behalf of the visitor, chancellor, and council, I congratulate Professor Popoola for his achievements in this university in the last five years,” he said.

He also congratulated the graduands, their parents and well-wishers for making successes out of their academic sojourn in the university. “The attainment of degrees is not an end in itself but a means towards other ends.”

He said gone are the days when possession of a university certificate is seen as a meal ticket and advised the graduands to see the attainment as a pedestal to harnes entrepreneurial skills that they can deploy profitably.

The university’s vice-chancellor said the evidence of the growth and development in the university could be seen in the number of capital projects inaugurated as part of the activities marking the convocation.

He said the university ranks the first institution to defeat the lockdown imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, saying it organised the first online matriculation and convocation ceremonies.

Mr Popoola said the university migrated easily to the online mode of study and has continued to enjoy the beauty of technology for both cost effectiveness and ease of operation.

“A new Nigeria possible”

The convocation lecturer and immediate past vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Olanrewaju Fagbohun, spoke on the need for intergenerational exchanges of ideas among the old and the young on how to reclaim Nigeria’s lost glory.

Mr Fagbohun, who spoke on the theme; “Harnessing Intergenerational Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Development,” said the current exodus of young Nigerians abroad is not the solution to the nation’s multifarious challenges.

He emphasised reorientation among Nigerians about the value system, saying since crises are societal, Nigerians must resolve to build a nation of their dreams through hard work, patriotism, and respect for merit and excellence.

Award

Meanwhile, three prominent Nigerians including a retired army chief and pro-democracy activist, Alani Akinrinade, were honoured with degrees.

The two others are businessmen whom the university said have contributed significantly to the national economy through job creation and youth empowerment. They are the chief executive officer of KAM Holding Limited, Kamorudeen Ibitoye, and that of the Starlink Global and Ideal Limited, Adeniji Adeyemi.

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