By Ugo Aliogo
A group, the Concerned Indigenes of Lagos State (CILS) yesterday rebuked a former Minister of Communications, Maj. Gen. Tajudeen Olarenwaju (rtd) over what its members described as “clannish remarks” on the current contest for the headship of the Lagos State University (LASU).
In a statement made available to journalists, the group led by Mr. Oluwole Fatai, argued that it was unbecoming of a supposed elder statesman to oppose an eminently qualified Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, for reasons other than on the grounds of incompetence.
The group wondered why politics should be introduced into an institution of higher learning like LASU, urging that the best candidate should be given the job.
The group maintained that Olatunji-Bello, having been born in Lagos and lived her entire professional life in the service of the state, thereafter becoming the first professor of physiology at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) should be weighed on the basis of her contributions to the development of the state.
While stressing that it was contradictory for the ex-minister to in one breath vow to “continue to encourage merit, fairness in the appointments to public office” and yet in another raise unhealthy ethnic and unhelpful sentiments, the group urged him to re-examine his statement in the interest of Lagos State.
According to CILS, the allegation that Olatunji-Bello was being imposed as a candidate on the ongoing search for a new vice chancellor for the university was not only unfounded, but totally baseless as the revered institution has its processes for the appointment of a vice chancellor which is being strictly adhered to.
The group advised that if Olarenwaju has a favourite candidate, he should canvass for their selection, rather than attempt to run down the achievements of Prof. Olatunji-Bello who had shown capacity even as acting vice chancellor of the school at some point.
It faulted the claim of the former minister that Olatunji-Bello is not from Lagos, adding that her mother was a well-known from the Abraham family Olowogbowo of Lagos Island, while her husband, Tunji Bello’s father, Pa Akintola Bello, was a Lagosian and a councilor in Lagos City Council in the 1950s.
“As a group of Lagosians who love our dear state and want the best for it, devoid of the mediocrity that the general is used to, we want to state very clearly that Olarenwaju’s statement that Prof. Olatunji-Bello is not an indigene of Lagos and therefore should be disqualified from contesting the seat of VC should be disregarded by all well-meaning people from Lagos State.
“Prof. Olatunji-Bello has not only shown capacity and competence in all the responsibilities given her throughout her career at the university, she has also demonstrated that she is a good manager of men and resources.
“Olarenwaju cannot be more of a Lagosian than Prof. Olatunji-Bello who was born on Lagos Island and grew up in Surulere and has lived all her life in the service of the state. It is not only ludicrous, but extremely unconscionable for the ex-military officer to throw away all the achievements of the amiable professor on the flimsy ground that she’s not a Lagosian,” the group stated.
It added: “In any case, the process for the appointment of a substantive vice chancellor began a long time ago and has reached advanced stage. Of all the candidates, only Prof. Olatunji-Bello does not carry any baggage capable of bringing the institution to disrepute.
“We are therefore confident that put side by side his co-candidates, the professor stands shoulder high and sits far above and beyond those names mentioned by Gen. Olarenwaju for the simple reason that they hail from Lagos.”
The group maintained that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu should be allowed to complete the process by appointing the most qualified of all the contestants, insisting that having gone through their CVs, Olatunji-Bello ticks all the boxes required to lead the university.