UI VC: Ibadan Now Calls The Shot

UI VC: Ibadan Now Calls The Shot

For some time now, the process of appointing substantive vice-chancellors for public universities in Nigeria has become a tug of war with erstwhile friends becoming enemies, indeed the wounds inflicted before vice-chancellors are appointed in many of the ivory towers often take time to heal.

The above scenario played itself out at the nation’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, until Thursday, 14 October, when the Governing Council of the institution led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, announced Prof. Kayode Oyebode Adebowale, as the 13th Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the institution, after almost a year of endless search.

Following the expiration of the tenure of the immediate past VC, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, on 30th November 2020, the institution became engulfed in unimaginable crises as contending interests laid claim to the position. Different agenda was pushed from different forces within and outside the university environment. Among the forces at play then was the Muslim community which clamoured for one of its own for the seat. The other was the agitation by the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), the umbrella body of all associations in Ibadanland which insisted on having a “son of the soil” as the new VC with a somewhat plausible claim that since the establishment of the institution in 1948, no Ibadan indigene has headed the institution

The fratricidal push by these forces can be said to have been responsible for the delay in the appointment of a substantive VC for the institution, which gave Prof. Adebola Ekanola, the opportunity to function in acting capacity for an unprecedented 11 months!

The process was truncated last year shortly after it started as it was marred with crises leading to the dissolution of the former Council while a new one, headed by Odigie-Oyegun, was inaugurated in April this year. The new Council, in its wisdom, decided to start afresh even as 14 candidates indicated an interest in the position following the expiration of the application process.

However, in line with University Act, a search team was constituted to explore the possibility of suitable persons who though might not have applied. At the end of the exercise, additional two applications were received and this brought the number of applicants to 16. The 16 contestants included the acting VC, Prof. Ekanola; Prof. Adeyinka Abideen Aderinto; Prof. Kayode Oyebode Adebowale; Prof. Aderemi Raji-Oyelade; Prof. Emiola Oluwabunmi Olapade-Olaopa; Prof. Temitope Alonge; Prof. George Olusegun Ademowo, and Prof. Kolawole Clement Olusegun Olaniran.

Others were Prof. Babatunde Salako; Prof. Ganiyu Adesola Aderounmu; Prof. Ebenezer Farombi; Prof. Hakeem Babatunde Faweyinmi; Prof. Rasaq Olatunde Kalilu; Prof. Anthony Kolawole; Prof. Oladele Layiwola and Prof. Nazeem Oluwafemi Mimiko.

Following the withdrawal of Prof. Raji-Oyelade from the race, the Council on Wednesday, 13 October 2021 interacted with 15 candidates, and candidates were scored using approved guidelines. At the end of the exercise, eight candidates were shortlisted in order of merit for the final interview. Aderinto led the pack followed by the acting VC, Akinola. Others, based on their positions, include Fawehinmi, Farounbi, Salako, Adebowale came sixth while Aderounmu and Ademowo, shared the seventh and eighth positions, respectively.

Also, at the meeting, two Council members, as required by law, were appointed. Senate similarly elected two members of Senate to serve on the Selection Board for the appointment of new VC

The climax of the process came Thursday, 14 October 2021 when the Joint Council-Senate Selection Board was flanked by two representatives of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), and the representative of the Federal Ministry of Education, interviewed the shortlisted candidates.

At the end of the exercise, Adebowale, the incumbent Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), was announced the 13th substantive VC of the institution. Announcing the new VC, the Pro-Chancellor of the university, Odigie-Oyegun, said Adebowale emerged the best after a thorough and rigorous process.

His words, “On Wednesday, 13 October 2021, Council interacted with all 15 candidates. All members of the Council scored the candidates using approved Council guidelines. In the end, eight candidates in order of merit were shortlisted for the final interview.

“At the meeting, two members of Council, as required by law, were also appointed. Earlier in the week, the Senate had elected two members of the Senate to serve on the Selection Board for the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor. Today, Thursday, the Joint Council-in-Senate Selection Board interviewed the eight candidates shortlisted. Two representatives of the Federal Ministry of Education were in attendance.

“At the end of a very thorough, transparent, and highly competitive exercise, Professor Kayode Oyebode Adebowale emerged as the best candidate for the position of Vice-Chancellor.

“The Governing Council as its just-concluded meeting today considered the report of the Selection Board and approved the recommendation of the Board to appoint Professor Kayode Oyebode Adebowale, as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan.”

While speaking after his presentation, Adebowale said he was not the best candidate but that God gave him the opportunity because there is work to be done. He said, “It is a privilege for me to serve. Prof. Adebowale, seated here, is not the best out of the candidates. God just wants me to serve. The University has gone through some challenging times and there are so many things we have learned there.

“I am not the best but God just put me there because there is work to be done. With the support of the Council, Senate, workers, congregation and all others, we shall move this university to greater heights.”

Adebowale of the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, was first appointed as the institution’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) by the Council in June 2018 and re-appointed for a second term in June 2020.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of CCII, Comrade Mumeeni Adigun, while reacting to the appointment on behalf of the group, disclosed how joyous Ibadan indigenes were when Adebowale was declared the 13th Vice Chancellor of the premier university being the first Ibadan person to be so appointed since the university was founded. According to him, Adebowale who is a scholar and best man for the job was the candidate of the group being a member of one of the associations in the group, praying that God shall continue to lead him aright and all the students to know his time for good.

Various stakeholders in the university such as the academic staff, non-academic staff, and other members of the university community, have also continued to react to the emergence of Adebowale as the new Vice-Chancellor.

The Chairman, Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), in the university, Comrade Malachy Etim, described his emergence as a good development, stating that the entire university community is happy that at last, they are able to have a substantive Vice-Chancellor after almost a year of crisis.

While noting that his emergence followed due process, he, however, made it clear that members of the union are ready to work with him if he is also ready to work with them.

Born on 11th January 1962 in Laminisa Compound, Ibadan, the new VC attended the University of Ibadan for his first, second, and third degrees, respectively. He was employed as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Chemistry in 1987 and was promoted to the professorial cadre in 2006.

Adebowale held many administrative positions and served on several committees of the university, including Examinations Officer, Department of Chemistry, 2003-2005; and Postgraduate Coordinator, Department of Chemistry, 2000 – 2002. Other positions he held are Sub-Dean (Postgraduate), Faculty of Science, 2002-2004; Dean, Faculty of Science, 2009-2011; Member, Committee of Provosts and Deans, 2009-2011; Member Committee on the Appointment of Emeritus Professors, 2012 till date.

The new VC was Convener, Investigative Panel on the Determination of the Class of Degree of two students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Technology, 2013 and the Director, Special Duties, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, between 2015 and 2016.

Adebowale has won several awards and distinctions: Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Science, FAS 2012; Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria (FICCON), and Research Fellow, Alexandra von Humboldt Foundation, Germany 1996 till date. Others include Regular Associate, Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, (ICTP) Trieste, Italy, 2003-2006; recipient, International Foundation for Science (IFS) Grant, 2002-2004; and recipient, African Union Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award for Science, Technology and Innovation, 2013.

He has also supervised many B.Sc projects, over 150 M.Sc dissertations, and 15 doctoral students. He has published over 120 articles in both local and international journals of repute and he also has one patent to his credit.

He is married to Dr ‘Yemisi Ajibola Adebowale, and the marriage is blessed with three children: Temitayo, Ayobami, and Ayomitunde.

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