The Ife Progressive Forum, also known as Ife Action Council, has decried the secrecy that surrounded the recent appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor, VC, for the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, saying it denied indigenes of the town the opportunity to emerge victorious in the exercise.
“The secrecy surrounding the exercise is highly suspicious. There was oath administered on the members of Selection Committee, before the interviews were conducted and after, and during the process of coupling the results,” the Forum said.
The forum stated this in a statement issued at a conference it held on the issue. It reads:
PRESS CONFERENCE ORGANIZED BY IFE PROGRESSIVE FORUM a.k.a IFE ACTION COUNCIL ON THE APPOINTMENT OF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY VICE CHANCELLOR
Gentlemen of the press, I welcome you to Ile Ife, the cradle of the Yoruba race. The reason why you are invited here is in connection with the Obafemi Awolowo University Vice Chancellorship appointment.
Obafemi Awolowo University formerly known as University of Ife was founded in 1961, and the school started admitting students in 1962. Since 1961, eleven Vice Chancellors have been appointed to manage the school starting with Professor Oladele Ajose up to Professor Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede, all of them from various towns like Aawe, Oyo Ekiti, Ondo, Ijesha, Owo, Ibadan and Inyi Town in Rivers State. Ifes have been very accommodating and peaceful as the host community and have endured so many hardship from the students demonstrations resulting to blocking roads leading to the city from Ibadan and Ede thereby paralyzing the economic activities of the town. In other host communities, there would have been clashes between the students and the hosts. We have been clamoring for years an indigene to become the Vice Chancellor of the University and the powers that be have connived never to allow our sons and daughters to reach the top echelon. They mockingly told us that we were dullards, lazy and that we didn’t have qualified candidates to urge for the post because our sons and daughters didn’t stay long in the system in the past before leaving for business or politics.
Now that we have superb and qualified candidates that contested the post, the university management came up with a fraudulent selection process to deny them. What is our offence? There is a corrupt manipulation of the vital process of scoring and assessing aspirants to the VC position by the Chairman of the Governing Council, Owelle Oscar Udoji, with the apparent connivance of other members of the Selection Committee.
The Council also betrayed the confidence reposed in them by not crying out even though they were not given the opportunity to have a say in the process. The secrecy surrounding the exercise is highly suspicious. There was oath administered on the members of Selection Committee, before the interviews were conducted and after, and during the process of coupling the results. The report of the selection committee to the Council was slated for 2pm while the announcement of the reports to the public was slated for 3pm of the same Thursday 17th March, 2022. Was the report expected to be automatically approved by the Council? Besides, the tradition in the academia is to frontload reports before consideration. Why were the Council members not given the reports at least 24 hours before the meeting in accordance with academic and administrative practice? On entering the meeting and after necessary protocols, members were given palmtops containing the purported selection reports. They were allowed to hold the palmtops for about ten minutes, after which the so-called reports were approved. Why will the university withdraw the palmtops from members? Is it that the Chairman does not trust members? What is it that must be so guided in a public document? Where is it in our academic practice is OATH OF SECRECY agreement from committee members? If the process was very transparent why can’t the results be made known to all after the end of the interview? A manipulated table of result is currently going round – what is the source and how were the scores generated? How authentic therefore is this table? In the absence of convincing official explanation of the genesis of the “scores” tabled out fertile rumors will abound. This aberration in our cherished university procedure of choosing OAU VC must be condemned. OAU is for cherished university cultural values and excellence but as mediocrity and ineptitude are being injected in its selection processes and about to be institutionalized, we all have a moral obligation to REJECT it and SPEAK OUT.
The scoring criteria used in this exercise is a manipulated and shameful scale and a disgraceful negation of standard assessment and evaluation processes. Check and compare the standard procedure and processes used in the 2017 exercise. Why was that scoring criteria not used this time around? This evil practice, processes and procedure MUST BE INVESTIGATED. The scoring criteria should have accompanied the advertisement. This will help applicants know their potential before venturing out. The deliberate “innovative” practice of fixing scoring criteria after the candidates have applied is programmed to promote abuse. The procedure and processes were also designed to promote favoritism and to compromise merit, transparency and integrity. It is like changing the goal post after the match has started. Does one prepare for an exam without a syllabus?
WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW THE SCORING CRITERIA.
In this current exercise, candidates who served two terms at a post (e.g. Dean, Head of Department, Deputy Vice- Chancellor) were awarded double marks. This is a complete negation of theories and principles of assessment and evaluation. The post of DVC is a highly political one. This interview panel awarded 6 marks for that post and doubled it for serving 2 terms. It is true the position is “contested” for but the current practice in OAU is a SHAM. The VC brings two names to the Senate for election. One of the professors is usually unknown referred to as a Dummy. No doubt this Council has adopted the flawed and corrupt political template to carry out this selection process.
ACADEMIC PROFILE OF THE CONTESTANTS
From the above table, Professor R. A. Adedoyin has the highest ration of the internal members while Professor O. D. Makinde has the highest as applicant from outside. Both are Ife, both are denied. If academic excellence is not a consideration for appointing a chief academic officer, what is?
What Ife have Tolerated before the Recent VC Selection Manipulation: Professor Opeloye was removed from office as Chairman OAUIL for no official reason rendered till today. Mr. Lawrence Omidiora’s job as the General Manager was terminated before the end of his contract, Omidiora is well educated graduated from this school with a prestigious degree, a qualified and seasoned practitioner in the hospitality industry; he has managed so many big hotels including Lagos Airport Hotel owned by Oodua Group. Within few months, Omidiora made tremendous progress and reawaken the dead Conference Center. Yet, he was removed because of the name he bears and replaced with a woman who has never headed a local hotel, poorly educated and clumsy in her approaches.
Professor O. Elumilade was removed as the Head of Management & Accounting even when he barely spent a year (a position never occupied by an Ife man) and replaced by Osotimehin who is Ogunbodede’s lifelong friend and partner. Professor Elumilade (a fellow of ICAN for decades with all his degrees in Management and Accounting and outstanding erudition in financial and management accounting) could not be allowed to spend the least two years that professors as HOD spend; only to be replaced by Profesor Osotimehin who had all his degree in Agriculture; wrote no single paper in accounting, and by now is on his FIFTH TERM of office in the same Department.
Despite Professor Anthony Elujoba’s one-year superlative exemplary excellent performance as the Acting-VC, we’re still being castigated as not ready to lead the school. Our outstanding Professor Elujoba promoted more workers in one glorious year than the last four VCs in OAU put together. He released so many people whose promotions were being unjustifiably delayed sometimes for as much as ten years, including professor Charles Ukeje as a leading example. He chose to risk going to jail by paying the workers what previous VCs refused to pay, all with a view to dousing the brutal crisis. As we speak, Baba Elujoba is back in court to press for the release of his entitlement which Professor Ogunbodede as the Vice Chancellor and his co-travelers refused to pay. Despite the arrays of chartered accountants of Ife extraction who have applied many times none of them ever became the Bursar. When the situation favours a native of Ile-Ife, the prevailing narrative will be to choose an outsider to make OAU an ‘international university’! If the situation doesn’t favour a native of Ile-Ife, it will be better to source from the inside to ‘ensure continuity’! The same with other principal officers of the university like librarian, registrars. Mr. Dotun Awoyemi who was reluctantly appointed as Registrar and served amidst several interferences and could not secure the additional one-year grace that all registrars in OAU seamlessly got. The community does not get any preference for low-level non-academic staffing, the ones where you really don’t need some expertise to get appointed. The community does not get any preferential treatment for admission. Despite producing many qualified academics over the years, a deliberate mechanism has been put in place to ensure that no indigene has gotten to the post.
Now, given precedence set in other federal schools (UI, UNIBEN, Ilorin etc) where deliberate efforts were made to appoint indigenes to VC posts, the argument is what is different about Ife? When a spouse is from an indigene, the spouse won’t be considered because “it amounts to academic degradations. However, the university is filled with the same spouses of non-indigenes”. Many positions are filled on “man knows man”, nepotistic basis and examples of this abound.
In view of the above, the entire citizens of Ife home and abroad are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu and the well-meaning Nigerians to come to our rescue and look into the solution process in order for justice to prevail and the peaceful co-existence between the university and Ife community to be restored.