Fagbohun’s successor: Liberators proffer solution for seamless transition

…Urge Lagos State Governor to apply 2016 template

Selection of new Vice Chancellor for the Lagos State University (LASU) appears to be cruising to the point of crescendo, where it is now on the desk of the Governor of the state, being the Visitor to the university, to appoint a Vice Chancellor out of the three candidates sent to him. But the Liberators are advising the governor to appoint the candidate who made number one on the list of contenders sent to him. CYRIACUS NNAJI reports.

A group of concerned professors of the Lagos State University (LASU), under the aegis of the Liberators has proffered a seamless partway in process of selection of a new Vice Chancellor for the institution.

The group made up of internationally renowned and well respected professors at a press briefing in Ojo on Friday, March 12, 2021, called on the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to apply the 2016 template which was used in the selection of the past administration, adding that the method used then produced excellence and quality leadership for LASU.

The Liberators who said they are non-partisan, in their view maintained that, after the mandatory interview conducted by the Governing Council for the nine candidates aspiring for the Vice Chancellor position in the institution; advised that whoever that emerged First in the interview should be appointed the Vice Chancellor.

In their position, they agreed that even though the governor has the statutory right to appoint a Vice Chancellor out of the three names sent to him, they reasoned that the candidate who is number one on the list must have prepared well enough for the job just like in 2016, when the same method was applied and LASU became number two among Nigerian Universities, winning laurels and grants. They said as concerned stakeholders, some of them having put up to 36 years in the service of LASU, would not like to see the institution nosedive, but to see it rise to laudable and enviable heights.

The Coordinator of the Liberators, Professor Adeleke Fakoya, said “We are for the progress of LASU; we are not in support of Mr. A or Mr. B, no. This is where all of us eat, this is where all of us live, I have put in, for instance, about 36 years now in service of LASU, and I will not be one of those to see LASU nosedive, I want to see LASU on the rise all the time. So, and I typify the thinking of an average Liberator, so what we do is to ensure that LASU goes higher and higher.

“It is not just to stay afloat, no, we are going to fly high, so whatever stage we think LASU has got to now, the hope of liberators is, that height must increase, that stage must get better.

“Now, nine people were invited for interview for the position of the Vice Chancellor of LASU, all nine of them were interviewed, the basic assumption here is that the short listing will be a confirmation of something, all of them have been found eligible, so we expect that whoever that has come first should be the one that we would give the leadership of LASU to, there should be no consideration, this one is not from my Local Government, this person is a friend of this person, no, there should be no such interpersonal relationships. What we want is this person has been invited, this person has been interviewed and this person has come first, that first person is whom we all in LASU will like to have, if there should be any reason for anybody who comes first not to be chosen, we want that reason to be very objectively stated. For instance, this person is said to have some psychosocial issue that can affect the progress of LASU, this person has a criminal record that we have just seen, the reason for which number one must be rejected must be very objectively stated and must be acceptable to everybody whether we are within LASU or they are outside LASU.

“So rejecting number one in favour of number 10, we are not going to support you because it will only lead to crisis, it means that somebody’s candidate has been chosen over somebody else’s candidate. But if it is the person that comes first that becomes the VC, believe me, all of us here and within LASU will be in support of that person and will work in favour of that person as long as that person is in favor of LASU itself.

He said unless there are such unpleasant circumstances that can remove number one from view and put number 6, that reason must be clear. ’If a Hausa man was shortlisted, and he came first, please make him the Vice Chancellor of LASU.  LASU is the only university that Lagos State has, so if Lagos State is indeed the Centre for Excellence, we want to see that excellence shine through in this process.”

Prof. Fakoya said that ASUU-LASU also supports that kind of thinking, “ASUU-LASU is not for division, ASUU is one, LASU is one, you may belong to SANU, or NASU, what matters to us is the name that unifies us, that name must be protected. The goal of the university must be such that it can compete with any other university here in Nigeria, Africa and elsewhere in the world; that is our goal. So the next VC should be somebody that we will all like to work with, as long as the next VC is forthright, honest, dependable, progressive and God-fearing.

Prof. Biodun Akinpelu, in his contribution said “There was an experiment in 2016 and it really worked, number one was picked, we are not interested in how number one became number one and how he was eventually picked, but we saw that the whole world heard that this is number one, we also heard in LASU that this is number one and he was picked. It was an experiment. In the past, out of the three, the first three that emerged during the interview, Governor can pick any of the three, but for the first time, number one was picked, and today we are having the LASU that we have today. So we want to believe that experiment is worthy of replicating, we can continue with that particular method and I want to see other universities copying the LASU model again.

“In LASU someone came first in 2016, he was allowed to govern the university and he governed well and LASU became the second best in Nigeria, and indeed LASU cannot go back again. We don’t want to have a reversal of that, whoever comes first must have seriously prepared for the assignment, so you can’t just say because we just discovered that, you can’t discover anything now; that is the issue,” Prof. Akinpelu said

At the press briefing attended by such eminent Lecturers as Dr Pius Akhimien, Prof. Onafalujo Akin, Prof Charles Asenime, Dr Olabode Segun, Dr Kayode Oyende and Dr Sylvester Olajire; the Chairman of Academic Staff Union of University, LASU Chapter, Ibrahim Bakari, in his submission reiterated the need for due process and paying of attention to the advocacy of the Liberators in choice of new VC for LASU. He said the Liberators expect the governor to get the best for LASU and that best is the candidate that scored highest in the interview conducted by the Governing Council of the university.

He said the university needs someone who will take welfare of the workers seriously, ensure congenial environment for staff and university community, adding that infrastructure in equally germane in the development of the university. He added that such a person coming in as the new Vice Chancellor must accord Research its rightful place. He said the last five years have been momentous as LASU staff won research grants. He said there must be conducive environment for learning.

Bakari stressed on inclusive governance adding that the new VC must be prepared to ensure inclusive governance through dialogue. He said the growth and development witnessed in the past five years in LASU was indeed as a result of dialogue and inclusiveness.

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