Again, Senior Academics Fault Fresh LASU VC Selection Process

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· Urge Sanwo-Olu to reconstitute new selection committee
· Want pro-chancellor to recuse self from selection process

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Senior academics at the Lagos State University (LASU) have faulted the process newly initiated to select the next Vice-Chancellor of the institution, citing diverse antics by some powerful individuals that have hijacked the entire process.

The academics under the aegis of Concerned Senior Academics of LASU asked the Governor and Visitor of the institution, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to reconstitute the Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee in line with the LASU Law, 2004.

They expressed these concerns in a two-page letter by Prof. Oladimeji Kolawole, Prof. Olalekan Jaiyeoba and Prof. Adeleke Yusuff, picking holes in the fresh process the governor directed the Governing Council to initiate penultimate week.

Sanwo-Olu had cancelled the initial selection process amid allegations of manipulation and directed a fresh exercise to address grievances raised by stakeholders.

The governor made the decision following petitions arising from the selection process of the institution’s ninth substantive VC. He also directed that a fresh process that would terminate in 45 days should commence immediately.

In their two-page letter, the academics first commended the governor for cancelling the initial selection process, which they alleged the Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo and the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun hijacked.

The letter, however, pointed out that the fresh process initiated to select the next VC of the institution was laced with compromise, errors and manipulation, which according to them, would have grave consequences for LASU if allowed.

The letter, therefore, asked the governor to intervene to save the 37-year-old institution, noting that the unintended consequences from the decision to compromise the VC selection process, if allowed to further degenerate, might be difficult to manage.

It said Sanwo-Olu’s intervention would prevent LASU’s pro-chancellor and immediate past vice-chancellor from handpicking the next vice-chancellor of the institution.

Specifically, the letter asked Sanwo-Olu to dissolve the selection committee comprising representatives of the Governing Council and the Senate and reconstitute a new one within the ambit of the LASU Law, 2004.

It said: “The general perception appears to be that the Ninalowo-led Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee is no longer capable of acting fairly within the crucible of openness and transparency in this matter.

“In the midst of all the controversies that led to the cancellation of the previous exercise, Ninalowo did not allow the governing council to see, much less deliberate on the contents of the new advert before rushing to press.

“The only thing that the governing council has done since the cancellation of the previous process is the ratification of the election of the Acting Vice Chancellor. Ninalowo has been acting as if he is solely the governing council. At every juncture, he gives himself away, as desperate to achieve a selfish agenda that can only be actualised by breaking with established traditions.”

It, therefore, suggested that the committee “be dissolved and be reconstituted within the ambient of the LASU Law of 2004. For his apparent role in this matter, Ninalowo should be recused from the entire process. This is important to fully reflate confidence within the system.”

The letter, similarly, rejected a position of the committees that any candidate with a Postgraduate Medical Fellowship could apply since it was equivalent to a Ph.D certificate.

It noted that this was in total contravention of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) declaration in a memo released last year, a further clarification on its stance three years before, which it forwarded to all varsities including LASU that there was no certificate at par with Ph.D.

It disclosed that to upturn NUC stance, some members of the parties desirous to install their loyalist into office have gone ahead to obtain an alleged illegal circular from the commission to back their claim over the LASU PhD/Fellowship controversy.

The letter argued that the National Universities Commission (NUC) “has issued several memos with simple declarations that no other qualification is equivalent to a Ph.D.

“Apart from the March 3, 2020 circular signed by the Director of Academic Planning of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), Dr. N.H. Saliu, addressed to all Vice-Chancellors where he declared that the Postgraduate Medical Fellowship is not equivalent to PhD, there was also another letter dated 11th August, 2017 signed by Dr. G. B. Kumo, Director of Academic Planning of NUC which clarified that the PhD degree has no other degree or certificate equivalent to it.

“We believe that any recent circular generated from the NUC over the LASU PhD/Fellowship controversy that stands contrary to the previous public NUC position on this matter must have been influenced by a certain distinguished LASU Professor who was himself a former Executive Secretary of NUC.

“This will be in a bid to support a candidate who does not possess a PhD but believed to be favoured to become the next LASU VC by the immediate past LASU Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Chancellor,” the academics said in their two-page letter.