By Seriki Adinoyi
Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) has said that at least eight Vice Chancellors of federal and state universities in Nigeria do not have PhD degrees, and yet have done credibly well in holding the positions, thereby dismissing the argument that a candidate must necessarily hold the degree to qualify for the position.
The National President, Professor Ken Ozoilo, in a statement, called on the Governor of Lagos state and Visitor to the Lagos State University (LASU), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Governing Council of the university to therefore be weary of discriminatory argument against Professor Olumuyiwa Odusanya in the selection of the vice chancellor of the university.
Ozoilo insisted that “the professional and academic qualification to be employed as a clinical lecturer in the university system in Nigeria is the Fellowship of National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN) or its equivalent.
According to him, “The Fellowship along with evidence of academic productivity forms the basis of promotion of clinical lecturers up to the professorial cadre. Possession of PhD for Clinical lecturers is optional (non-obligatory) and does not apply as criteria for employment nor for career progression of clinical lecturers in the Nigerian university system as expressly restated by the National Universities Commission (NUC) vide circular ref: NUC/ES/138/VOL.63/53 of 3rd of March 2020.”
Ozoilo recalled that several fellowship holders are currently serving as vice chancellors in different federal and state universities in Nigeria. “These include the current President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Professor I. A. O. Ujah, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, the VC of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo who does not hold a PhD. Prof B. B. Shehu, a Consultant Neurosurgeon, is also VC of Federal University, Birnin Kebbi. He is a Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, and does not hold a PhD. Prof Aliyu Usman El-Naferty, a Consultant Obstetrician/ Gynaecologist is the current VC of the Gombe State University; he is a fellow and does not hold a PhD. Professor Chigozie Ogbu, is a Consultant Paediatrician, does not hold a PhD, and is the Vice Chancellor of Ebonyi State University.”
Others, according to MDCAN President, are past occupants of the position in LASU that are fellowship holders without PhD, “including the recently deceased first Vice Chancellor Prof F. Olumide, a Consultant Surgeon, and most recently, Professor John Obafunwa, a Consultant Pathologist who also does not hold a PhD.”
He added that several Fellows of the College have also in the past held the position of Vice Chancellor despite not having a PhD, adding that the immediate past Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole was Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan without holding a PhD. “The first Nigerian Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1962 to 66), Professor Ishaya Audu was also a Fellowship holder who did not have a PhD.”
Noting that the list is endless, Ozoilo added that all have discharged themselves creditably.
He said that the issue of equivalence of Fellowship and PhD does not arise because the two are entirely separate entities, adding that the debate as to supremacy between the two is also of no consequence, for the same reason.
The salient point, according to the president, is that the peculiarity of medical education and training is such that the highest academic and professional qualification for doctors is the fellowship
He said this is also the only qualification that permits an academic to teach Medicine and Surgery in the university as no other degree suffices, including PhD.
He however agreed that lobbying is an age long practice in selection to an office as highly esteemed as that of VC of a reputable university as LASU, but warned that the desperation and manipulation of public opinion that has characterised the LASU exercise is condemnable and does not reflect the very high standards to which members of the academic community are held.
He urged the governing council of the university to remain steadfast in applying the rules appropriately with regards to consideration of fellowship as the highest degree for clinical teachers in the university system “to avoid mistakes of the past that may provoke a long drawn crisis if any of the candidates, particularly those from the College of Medicine are disadvantaged on the account of non-possession of PhD.”