Two former Vice Chancellors of the University of Ibadan have urged stakeholders to put merit above ethnic and religious consideration in the choosing a new Vice Chancellor for the institution.
Emeritus Professors Ayo Banjo and Olufemi Bamiro, in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria, called for the appointment of quality people as members of the new Governing Council for the institution.
Banjo, who was UI VC between 1982 and 1991, said that the first step going forward was the constitution of a new Governing Council for the university.
According to him, the tenure of the present council expires on April 1.
“So I am sure the government is thinking about how to put up a new council for the university.
“And one can only advise that due caution should be taken regarding the composition of that new council in the light of the problem on ground.
“The quality of the council matters; ethnicity, religion and so on should have no place at all in the choice of the vice chancellor and it never did in the past; so I don’t know why suddenly it became an issue.
“The new council should be told by the government that is setting it up that it doesn’t want any play on ethnicity or religion. That the process should be done in an open and transparent manner.
“So, all this business about where people come from and the religion being practised should not be an issue at all.
“The new vice chancellor should be appointed by the council, which knows exactly what it is doing and guard against influence from outside the university and it should stand its ground.
“Otherwise, we may not be surprised if the government says we should go back to the old system, whereby the government appoints the vice chancellor,” Banjo said.
He said that the universities were seemingly unable to manage their own affairs in spite of government’s gesture of allowing universities to appoint their own vice chancellors.
Banjo said that it would be a great shame if the University of Ibadan, the oldest and number one university in the country, now has a sole administrator.
“We don’t want that sort of thing to happen. I pray that it doesn’t happen, but it all depends on how the new Council handles the matter, as the old council has been told to hands off.
“If the new council handles it transparently and objectively, then we don’t have any fear of having a sole administrator,” he said.
Banjo advised all stakeholders to allow the council to do its work.
“Let people not put undue pressure on the council. It is normal for people to have different preferences but that doesn’t mean people should put undue pressure on the council.
“They should be allowed to do their work objectively and transparently, I am sure that UI is capable of that,” he said.
Also speaking, Bamiro urged the key stakeholders to learn a lesson from what had led to this present situation in UI.
“The new council that would be put in place should learn lessons from what had happened.
“It then means that we hope that quality people will be in that council; that is, people that know the university system and then would be able to operate at all cost to give us the vice chancellor that is acceptable to all.
“And we want everything to be based on merit, not on factors that we are all hearing about,” he said.
Bamiro said that he hoped that the University of Ibadan would pull through this present setback without giving room for the appointment of a sole administrator.
“I don’t foresee a sole administrator taking over UI. Are you saying there are no professors that are able to sort out the problem?
“I don’t know what happened in ABU that led to the university having a sole administrator, but I don’t believe that this situation will get to that as that will not be good for the system,” he said.
On the expiration of the tenure of Deputy Vice Chancellors (DVC) at the university, Bamiro said there was nothing the acting Vice Chancellor could do as it was only a substantive VC that could appoint DVCs.
“It is only a sitting VC that can recommend two people and send their names to the senate and the senate will vote and pick one which will now be approved by the council for the position of DVC.
“In other words, you are a DVC for a Vice Chancellor, so an acting VC cannot appoint DVCs. So they just have to wait until they sort out the issue of the vice chancellor,” he said.
He said the same factors played up in the appointment of vice chancellor at University of Nigeria, Nsukka but merit prevailed over other sentiments.
“We thought UI has outgrown all this and built an institution that could handle all the factors that played out.
“It is not that they have not been there before, but at the end of the day we have always risen above them.
“This is not beyond us. That is why all the stakeholders must come together because you cannot make mistakes with the leadership of an institution because if you do the institution goes down the drain,” he said.
NAN reports that the University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, University of Jos and Federal University of Technology, Minna, were without governing councils.