The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos State University (LASU) Chapter, has urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state to consider merit in appointing the university’s new vice-chancellor from among the three shortlisted candidates.
Dr Adekunle Idris, the Chairman, ASUU-LASU chapter, said this at a news conference on Wednesday, at the Ojo campus of the university.
Idris said that merit should not be compromised in the appointment of the VC, urging him not to act like previous administrations that selected the second or third candidates, rather than the first.
He said that the staff unions and the university’s community were eagerly waiting for the governor to pronounce the new VC among the three shortlisted candidates by the Governing Council.
“Information reaching the union is that the selection committee made up of a joint committee of Senate and Council had concluded the processes for the appointment of the new VC.
“The committee, we learnt, shortlisted the three best candidates among the initial nine and had submitted the result to the governor for him to appoint one of them as the VC.
“Since December 9 when the report was submitted to the governor, no pronouncement had been made by the governor on the new VC,” he said.
Idris said that the silence by the governor was worrisome; stressing that the pronouncement was usually made within 24 hours after the committee must have submitted its report.
He said the action of the government was leaving room for suspicions and speculations. “A delay by the government will give room for the usual undue lobbying by interest and clannish groups with their shenanigans that have brought the University to where it is today.
“As a starting point, the union will resist anyone aside the candidate that came first. We know that the governor is an action and listening governor and will look into our superior logic.
“Merit should not be sacrificed on the altar of political gambling and consideration,” he said.
Idris said the union had noted before the selection process that it was not interested in any of the candidates but that the best among them be appointed for fairness sake.
The ASUU leader said that the union would not tolerate to work, a day longer with any V-C appointed on the four years’ renewable term.
“Therefore, there is the need to fast track the implementation of the bill for a single term of five years for LASU V-C before the assembly to take effect from this tenure.
“We assume, this is part of the reasons the governor is delaying his pronouncement.
“The All Progressives Party (APC) is a party that loves merit and it is time to show that example,” he said.
NAN also obtained a copy of the letter written by the union to the governor, dated December 14, titled: “Appointing A Vice-Chancellor on merit: LASU deserves the best”.
The letter stated that appointing the candidate that came first was the proper thing to do in the pursuit of excellence and fair play in LASU.
It encouraged the governor to appoint the first candidate, whoever he or she might be and from wherever, as it was the best practice in the federal universities and in the global world.
“The union is aware that by law, the Visitor to the University has the prerogative to appoint any of the first three candidates.
“However, in 2006, the second candidate, Prof. Lateef Hussain was appointed, and in 2011, the third candidate, Prof. John Obafunwa was appointed and the crisis generated through this bad choice was well known.
“Lagos is the Centre of Excellence, hence, the habit of always picking the second of third best as VC of LASU has to stop if the university has to move forward.
“ASUU-LASU stands for due process, the LASU community and the entire nation are eagerly waiting to see that the best candidate, as rated and determined by the selection committee, is appointed this time around.
“We trust also that the good judgment will prevail in the interest of the University and for the general good of all.
“Sir, it is time to make history, murdering merit to satisfy some other interests is not consistent with university culture and often fuels patronage and eventual crisis,” the letter read.
Mr Saheed Oseni, Chairman, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), LASU Chapter, also told NAN that in the appointment of the new V-C, merit should not be sacrificed for mediocrity.
Oseni said the governor should appoint the best candidate among the trio as quickly as possible to douse the tension on the campus.
“Sentiments apart and without prejudice to the power of the governor, due process should be followed and we believe the governor will do the needful,” he said.
NAN reports that the best three out of the nine professors initially shortlisted to contest for the post of the LASU VC were shortlisted by the selection committee.
According to a reliable source within the university, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun of the University of Lagos came first, Prof. Hamidu Sanni of the Department of Islamic Studies at LASU came second.
The source said Prof. Olatunji Bello of the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Ikeja came third.
This followed the interview held at LASUCOM on Dec. 7 for the prospective candidates that applied for the post of the Vice-Chancellor.
According to the information gathered by NAN, Prof. Fagbohun, is an indigene of Awori, Lagos State, Prof. Sanni is from Oyo State and Prof. Bello is from Ondo State, but her mother is from Lagos State.
Fourteen professors had applied for the post of the LASU V-C within the six weeks of its advertisement.
Nine professors out of the 14 were shortlisted after several considerations of their qualifications and pre-requisites for absorption.
Among the five candidates who were not shortlisted was the immediate former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. John Obafunwa, whose tenure ended on October 31.
Six of the shortlisted professors were from LASU, while the other three were from outside the institution.
The shortlisted professors were: Prof. Abolade Adeniji, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Senna Bakre, Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Olatunji Bello, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM).
Others are Prof. Nurudeen Olasupo, Department of Microbiology, Prof. Hamidu Sanni of the Islamic Studies Department and Prof. Babajide Elemo of the Faculty of Science.
The professors from outside LASU are a professor from Texas, U.S., simply identified as Oki, Prof. S.A. Tella from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun, and Prof. Lanre Fagbohun, a former LASU staff now with the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
The post of the Vice-Chancellor at LASU became vacant, following the expiration of the tenure of the former, Prof. Obafunwa on October 31.
The Lagos State Government had on November 7, appointed Prof. Fidelis Njokanma, (DVC, Administration) as the Acting V-C of the institution through the university’s Governing Council led by Professor Adebayo Ninalowo.
Ambode had on November 17, sent the LASU 2015 Amendment Bill to the state House of Assembly for ratification.
The bill proposed a single term of five years for the institution’s vice-chancellor.