BY WINIFRED OGBEBO
….. University of Ibadan and the need for government to wade in and sanitize the system.
Recently, the federal government sacked the vice chancellors of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAB), Professors Adebiyi Daramola and Olusola Oyewole respectively.
A letter signed by the acting permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr Hussaini Adamu, said both were suspended in connection with their ongoing trial at the behest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). They were instructed to hand over to the most senior deputy vice chancellors of their respective institutions.
Daramola was sacked a month to his retirement and had a running battle with both academic and non academic staff of FUTA over mismanagement of funds and both unions repeatedly called for his removal.
His case was just one of the many bothering on allegations of mismanagement of funds and maladministration bedevilling the nation’s ivory towers.
As with FUTA, the University of Ibadan, the premier university is also not spared of the rot in management which recently led to the suspension of the accreditation for the faculty of pharmacy by the National University Commission (NUC).
Investigations revealed that the withdrawal of pharmacy accreditation was sequel to the inability of the varsity management to provide essential laboratory facilities required for the training of pharmacy students in the institution.
The university’s authorities, it was gathered, had been warned twice by the NUC over the lack of essential facilities in the faculty in the past seven years.
Our source confirmed that the varsity was issued interim accreditation precisely in 2012 and 2014 as warning but in 2016 when the committee visited again and discovered that the university management had still not done anything to improve the situation, it immediately withdrew accreditation for the course in the university.
The institution recently increased students’ intake from a little over three thousand to six thousand. However, as the news of the withdrawal of accreditation filtered into the university, the in-coming students who recently sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, with the University of Ibadan as their choice institution for the study of pharmacy are being advised to relocate to another institution.
Some of the lecturers in the faculty who spoke with our correspondent under anonymity regretted the development saying it was a bad omen and gross shame for the premier university to record withdrawal of accreditation in one of her very strong areas of strength. Ibadan Pharmacy used to be first among the best in the country.
They blamed the incident on bad management, which according to them, has bedevilled the institution since 2010. Our findings also showed that most departments and faculties are short of funds and depend largely on registration fees from students, which is grossly inadequate, for their day to day running because all federal universities are tuition free.
“You see, most often many of these faculties, departments and units have been struggling to survive especially under the previous administration and the incumbent. All the departments and faculties are not faring well at all. In fact they are operating with zero budgetary allocations and really we cannot blame them because it is the responsibility of the university authorities to throw their weight behind the faculties and source for funds for such essential facilities,” our source said.
Another professor said “we are in a situation that the university management does not have any commitment to standard of academic programmes. God help you if your department is not generating money through large class sizes. It is unfortunate that the management is so helpless about fund sourcing that the situation in the university is in its lowest in the recent past. I am very sad.”
When contacted on the phone, the vice chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka promised to get back saying he was in a meeting. The dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, Professor Peace Chinedum Babalola who was also contacted on the phone also declined comment on the matter asking our correspondent to call back but was not reachable after several attempts.
Many members of the academic community see the current administration of Professor Idowu Olayinka as a pseudo administration of his predecessor, Professor Isaac Adewole who allegedly fought hard to get Olayinka to succeed him in violation of certain germane rules of the ivory tower. Adewole is the current minister of health.
There have been several petitions to the president who is the visitor to the premier university on some allegedly noticeable lapses in the processes that led to the appointment of Professor Olayinka as the vice chancellor of UI. However, in spite of how he emerged, many said Olayinka could have salvaged the situation by at least doing the right thing but said sadly the reverse was the case.
In March this year, a legal practitioner, Mr. Femi Alamu who is an alumnus of the institution filed a suit against the vice chancellor and the institution over what he described as another faulty process in the appointment of the deputy vice chancellors. He alleged the VC violated the varsity’s tradition by appointing professors of five years’ experience as deputy vice chancellors in an institution with the highest number of professors after Cape University in South Africa.
In a writ of summons submitted in the Federal High Court of Justice in the Ibadan Judicial Division, the legal practitioner is asking the court to declare that the newly appointed deputy vice chancellors are academics; that Professor Adeyinka A. Aderinto and deputy vice chancellor, research, renovations and strategic partnerships, Professor Olanike K. Adeyemo were not appointed based on the provisions of the university of Ibadan laws.
The human rights lawyer is therefore asking for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents, privies or any other person claiming through them from ratifying the appointment of these two deputy vice chancellors, until the determination of this suit.
Those joined in the suit as defendants are the governing council, University of Ibadan, the vice chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka and the registrar, Mr. O. I. Olukoya.
According to him, the laws of the university of Ibadan stipulate that the vice chancellor and the deputy vice chancellor must be highly distinguished scholars and of the rank of professor with a minimum of ten years’ experience on that level and with demonstrable ability to provide academic and administrative leadership for such a well-established institution.
They must also be persons of proven integrity, be not more than sixty five years old as at the date of possible assumption of duty and must command the respect of national and international academic communities among other qualities, he added.
However, Alamu averred that the two new deputy vice chancellors did not meet the provision of not less than ten years of professorship experience as stated above and therefore this would adversely affect their performances in those offices.
He said the provisions could not be overlooked as they have their place in the running of the university especially when there is need for either of these deputy vice chancellors to act in the capacity of the vice chancellor.
But the defendant counsel, A. S. Ajayi in his statement of defence signed on April 4, 2017 denied the claim of minimum of ten years as professors for the post of deputy vice chancellors saying the rule only affects the post of the vice chancellor and was used during the last exercise which led to the appointment of the incumbent vice chancellor. The rule does not change from time to time, he said.
“Apart from the number of ten years of professor, both candidates that the vice chancellor appointed as deputy vice chancellors meet up with the criteria highlighted therein, though the said criteria are not what were required to make them eligible and appointable. There is nowhere in the process leading to the appointment of a deputy vice chancellor in the University of Ibadan, or any federal university where ten years or number of years is made a criterion statutorily, other than that the candidate should be an academic staff in line with the extant statute governing the University of Ibadan,” he further averred..
Ajayi said the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case because the claimant lacks the locus to institute the action by himself or as a representative action, and further because the defendant had concluded the appointment of the deputy vice chancellors before the institution of the case.