Race For Unilorin VC: Who Will 'Take The Better By Far' Varsity To Next Height? - 9japarrot


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Sunday 4 September 2022

Race For Unilorin VC: Who Will 'Take The Better By Far' Varsity To Next Height?

University of Ilorin Race for successor

What it seems thus far, is that the contestants, including the concerned stakeholders would have to rely on the avouchment of the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari to the sterling qualities of the Pro-Chancellor, who he described as “a man of integrity and among the few Nigerians that could still be relied upon”

The race for a successor to Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, the 10th Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, whose tenure expires on October 15 is on and frantic.

There had been a call for applications. A long and shortlists of applicants have emerged, though with major upsets that have thrown many observers aback. A few names that were thought to be probable candidates in the reckoning of the University community and outside watchers were copiously missing from the shortlisted candidates. Such candidates include the Dean of Post Graduate School of the university Professor Moji Bakare-Odunola, Professor Ahmad Shehu Abdussalam, a former Dean of Faculty of Arts and Professor Raheem Bayo Lawal. More instructive is the fact that Lawal, a former Dean of Education and former Deputy Vice Vice Chancellor was shortlisted as a candidate for the position of Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, not too long ago, while Abdussalam was also shortlisted at the last contest that ushered in the incumbent Vice Chancellor.. 

Impeccable sources from the university confided to Midlandpost that at the end of a painstaking consideration and shuffling of the total candidates who applied for the position of the 11th Vice Chancellor of the ‘Better by far University’, 13 candidates from the lot were shortlisted to face an interviewing panel between 6th and 7th of September, 2022.

The candidates, according to our sources are Professors Olanrewaju T. Adedoyin, Abdulbaqi Toyin Abdulrahim, Hassan Saliu, Wahab Egbewole, Olugbenga O. Mokuolu, Abdulraheem Olarongbe Mahmoud, Bashiru Ademola Raji, Katibi Ibraheem, Mikhail Olayinka Buhari, Mohammed Olanrewaju Ibrahim, Isaac Abiodun Adimula, Babatunde Akibu Solagberu and Suleiman Folorunsho Ambali.

Apart from Prof. Abdulbaqi Toyin Abdulrahim and Prof Babatunde Akibu  Solagberu who are external candidates from the University of Maiduguri and Lagos State University, respectively, other applicants are staff of the university.

It is also noticeable that over 53 per cent of the candidates are from the College of Health Sciences of the university, while Solagberu another professor in the medical field applies from the Lagos State University. The others are a political scientist, a mechanical engineer, a soil scientist, a professor of law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a mathematics guru and a renowned physicist.   

The Candidates

Olanrewaju Timothy Adedoyin, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health since 2011 is a former Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences and presently the Provost of the College of Medicine of the university. He hails from Irepodun Local Government Area of  Kwara State and he is renowned as a Consultant to World Health Organization/ Federal Ministry of Health on Malaria and the National Programme on Immunization. 

Engr. Prof. Abdulrahim Abdulbaqi Toyin is a registered Engineer and a Fellow of The Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), a Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FNIMechE), a Fellow of Automotive and Locomotive Engineers’ Institute (FAutoEI) and a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Managers and Administrators of Nigeria. He rose to the rank of Professor of Mechanical Engineering (Energy and Thermo-fluid) in 2012. He has served as Acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maiduguri. He was a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Ilorin and also served as Adjunct Professor at the same University. He hails from, Asa Local Government of Kwara State.

Hassan Ajisafe Saliu Professor of Political Science is the current President of the Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA). He was appointed to the rank of a Professor in 2002 and, has served as Head of Department, Coordinator of Professional Programmes and Dean of Faculty for two terms at the University of Ilorin. He has also served in some important administrative and ad hoc committees such as Senate's Business Committee, University Estimates Committee, Chairman, and Senate's Committee on the 2004 Presidential Visitation Panel, among others. He has a robust publication profile - 321 publications- and has delivered one hundred and forty papers across the world. He is also a consultant to some international organisations and the Federal Government of Nigeria

Wahab Egbewole, is an active legal practitioner who reached the pinnacle of the legal profession in 2018 when he was conferred with the coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN. Before then, his erudition benefited legal education and research, especially in the university’s Law Faculty where he served in various capacities including Acting Head of Department, Sub-Dean, Acting Dean of Law, among others. He has also served the university in different roles, notably, his role as the Director, General Studies Division, his membership of the University Senate and member, Governing Council. He was appointed a Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law in 2012. He is from Osun State.

Olugbenga O. Mokuolu, a Professor of Paediatrics, since2011. Mokuolu has a dual-track career development in Malaria and Neonatology. He has served for years as the Technical Director, National Malaria Elimination Programme and has consulted extensively for WHO, RBM, UNICEF and many other organizations providing technical support to various countries on accessing resources for malaria control. He was in 2010 rewarded the prestigious researcher of the year award by the university. Mokuolu is from Ogun State.

Abdulraheem Olarongbe Mahmoud is a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. He has vast international experience in ophthalmological practice, training and research and he is a past recipient of the University of llorin Researcher of the Year award. He is reputed to be behind the University of Ilorin’s project on vitreo-retinal surgical research. His experiences is said to help in forging international research collaborations with experts across the world.

Professor Raji, is a senior soil scientist of repute. A Professor of Soil Science since 2003, is the immediate past President, Soil Science Society of Nigeria. He joined the services of the University of Ilorin in 2012 and served as Chairman, Committee on Computer Base Test and Coordinator of the Department of Forest Resources Management, while on visiting appointment between 2010 and 2012. Prior to this time in ABU Zaria, he had served as Dean, Students Affairs, Director, Academic Planning & Monitoring, Assistant Dean, and HOD, while also participating in many University-based committees among which are the University Senate representative on the Governing Board of National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Services, ABU, Zaria between 2003 and 2005. He was the second substantive Vice-Chancellor, Fountain University, Osogbo between 2012 and 2016. Raji hails from Offa in Kwara State.

Ibraheem Adeola Katibi is a Professor of Medicine and the current Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology and Fellow of the International Society for the Epidemiology and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. He is credited with pioneering the establishment of the first electronic database of normal electrocardiograms in any indigenous African population in collaboration with the University of Glasgow. This dovetailed into the successful comparison of this database with British, Chinese and Indian normal ECGs. He rose through the ranks to become a Professor of Medicine in 2011 and had served as in various capacities. He currently doubles as the Research Manager for the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Ilorin and Chairman, Board of survey for the University. At home, in Ilorin, he holds the traditional title of Wazirin Likita of Ilorin.

Mikhail Olayinka Buhari became a Professor of Pathology in 2012. He was at various times a Head of Department, member and chair of various University, College and Faculty Committees. He rose to become the Director of Clinical Affairs and Training of the Hospital in March 2015 and was appointed the Acting Chief Medical Director of the Teaching Hospital on the 18th of March 2018. He held this position till the 19th of June, 2018 when was elected the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Technology and Innovations by the Senate of the University of Ilorin.

Suleiman Folorunsho Ambali, a Professor of Environmental Toxicology, former Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ilorin. He is the Chairman of the University’s Library and Publication Committee and also the Chairman of the Technical Sub-Committee of the Appointment and Promotions Committee. Professor Ambali is not a cousin to another Ambali, the predecessor to the incumbent Vice Chancellor, although both hail from Ilorin.

Babatunde Akibu Solagberu, is a Consultant, Orthopedic and Trauma Surgeon at the Lagos State University College of Medicine. He is also a ‎former Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences and Head of Department, Surgery. He was appointed the Provost, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja in 2016. Prior to all these, he was a Consultant, at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital from 1997 until he was enmeshed in the ASUU logjam in 2001.

Isaac Abiodun Adimula has been a Professor of Physics since 2011. He served as the Director, Computer Services, and Information Technology Directorate. During his tenure, the University won a STEP-B grant of $2.1m for the Network infrastructure and became a standard to judge order intervention projects. The University of Ilorin was ranked second in both Webometric and 4ICU rankings of Nigerian Universities in 2013 and ranked 1st in Nigeria and 20th in Africa in 2014. This has been the highest ranking so far for the University.  He has also served as the Dean of Physical Sciences as the Director, Academic Planning Unit. Outside of the University, he is the Chief Technical Advisor for Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board, JAMB, and the first National Vice-Chairman of the Technical Advisors, including being among team of experts who set up of the Automated SYstem for CUstoms DAta, ASYCUDA, (a collaborative project between the Nigerian Customs Services and the Economic Community of West-African State, ECOWAS) in 1998

Mohammed Olanrewaju Ibrahim, Professor of Mathematics and a former President of Mathematics Association of Nigeria is a Fellow of the Association as well as Fellow, Chartered Institute of Strategic Managers and Leaders. He was Head of Department, Mathematics Department, of the University and Director, Centre for International Education.

Prospect for transparent selection

For a university that has been on upward movement for over three decades, in spite of the pariah status it enjoyed with the academic staff union of Universities, ASUU for 19 years, it is expected that eyes would be on it as it prepares for appointment of a new Vice Chancellor.

Like most public universities in Nigeria, Unilorin has not been immune from the strains that have characterized the appointment of vice chancellors, especially, the intrusion of vested interests. In the past, there had been talks of strong contestation between three groups identified by the sobriquets, Kwara bloc, Kogi bloc and the Compatriots. The description is used to describe the power play between the university’s staff from Kwara, Kogi and, those outside of these two blocs.

There had also been accusations of interference by powerful hands outside of the university, who sponsored candidates supposedly to advance personal cause. Another interference in the past were clamours for a ‘son of the soil’ or member of a religious group.

Such was the controversy that trailed the selection that produced the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abdulkareem, where the Ilorin Emirate Descendant Progressive Union (IEDPU), raised the alarm over alleged plot by those it described as "fifth columnists", to scuttle the chances of indigenes of Ilorin emerging the Vice Chancellor of the institution.

The union at a press conference addressed by its National President, Alhaji Abdulhamid Adi titled "University of Ilorin - The Return of the Fifth Columnist" accused those it termed “the enemies of the emirates” and “Ilorinphobists’ of launching ceaseless attack on the personality of the outgoing Vice Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali in order to jeopardise the chances of the emergence of another Ilorin indigene to succeed the incumbent administrator.

It impressed it on the university community that the people of Ilorin and the emirate had played significant roles before and after the establishment of the university by supporting the institution, noting that the vast amount of land donated by Ilorin made the university permanent site the biggest landmass possess by any university in Nigeria.

 "At inception, pioneer staff of the university were imported as it were. Almost all academic and non academic staff including even cleaners were brought from states outside the then Kwara as if there were no one worthy enough within the state to be employed.

 "...the department of Arabic and Islamic studies which would have been the department to reflect the cultural attachment of our people was changed to that of religion because of the sentiment of a negligible few”, the Union said in the release.

 These are factors that would likely be at play in the next few weeks, even though seven of the shortlisted candidates are indigenes of the Ilorin Emirate.   

The 13th Governing Council of University of Ilorin, led by its Chairman and Pro-Chancellor, Mallam Habidu Rafindadi Yazid, in the advert that called for applications from prospective candidates gave the criteria that a would-be Vice Chancellor must possess. There would be other considerations for scoring the applicants at the interview sessions.

The National Alumni Association of the university said the only solution to make the process of appointment transparent is by giving each candidate a fair shot at the position, advising that there should be no preferred or anointed candidates, sponsored by external or internal vested interests.

In a statement by its National President Dr Olawale Fasakin and Assistant General Secretary Dr Lai Oparinde, when the advert came out in April, 2022 called on the institution’s authorities to avoid ethnic and religious sentiment in choosing the next vice chancellor, warning that it would monitor the process to certify compliance with extant rules and ensure that nothing is done to favour any candidate by reason of ethnicity or religion.

The association said its warning became necessary in view of the crisis trailing the selection of new VCs in Nigeria today and to ensure that only the best candidate emerge.

The statement read in part: “We encourage all interested persons who think they have met the stated criteria, within and outside the University of Ilorin community to apply for the position”

What it seems thus far, is that the contestants, including the concerned stakeholders would have to rely on the avouchment of the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari to the sterling qualities of the Pro-Chancellor, who he described as “a man of integrity and among the few Nigerians that could still be relied upon”

The Council members, while visiting the university’s Chancellor, the Emir of Katsina, HRH Kabir Usman in preparation for its last convocation ceremony in September 2021 had paid a courtesy call on the state Governor.

Masari told his audience: “It is an honour for us to always host Mallam Habidu Yazidu, whom we recognize and accept that he is among the few leaders with integrity, foresight, commitment and above all a very simple life.

 “It may interest you to note that Mallam Habidu accepted to be a Pro-Chancellor of your university. It is an honour to the university.

“In fact, we have made him an offer for an office any one will lobby anyone in authority to get. We offered it to him on a platter of gold but he declined.

“So, for me, it is an honour that he accepted to serve as pro chancellor of the University,” Governor Masari stated

If these were so, and baring underhand tactics that could elude the eyes of the Council Chairman, it is almost certain that the selection processes would not be devoid of integrity and one that would produce the 11th Vice Chancellor that would take University of Ilorin to higher heights.

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