University Of Ibadan: Varsity without Vice-Chancellor

When Professor Adebola Ekanola was appointed the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan six months ago, following a botched attempt to appoint a substantive Vice-Chancellor (VC), not many envisaged the possibility of an extension in whatever guise. The Senate of the premier university on 17th May 2021, recommended him for another six months to the Council of the institution.

This recommendation was made at the meeting of the Senate held to avoid a vacuum that could result owing to the inability to appoint a substantive office holder as well as the expected expiration of Ekanola’s initial tenure at the end of May 2021.

However, the rules of the university which is in accordance with the extant law stipulate in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provision) Amendment Act of 2003, Section 5, Subsection (14), that an Acting Vice-Chancellor, in all circumstances shall not be in the office for more than six months.

With this Act, many had thought that a new VC will emerge in the institution after the expiration of the tenure of Ekanola as the Acting Vice-Chancellor on 31st May 2021 but contrary to the extant University Act, his tenure has been elongated.

Rulers’ World reliably learnt that Ekanola was the only candidate nominated for the position after the Chairperson of the Senate, Professor Olayinka Omogbodu, Provost of the College of Medicine, called for nomination. The recommendation is now awaiting the approval of the Governing Council of the institution headed by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who is Chairman and the Pro-Chancellor.

With Professor Ekanola’s reappointment, he would have occupied the position for a year! This development is novel in the long history of the university which dates back to the colonial era.

Following the expiration of the tenure of the immediate past VC, Professor Idowu Olayinka, on 30th November 2020, the institution became engulfed in crises as contending interests laid claim to the position. It was gathered that the reason behind the suspension of the earlier selection process was as a result of different agendas been pushed from different forces within and outside the university environment.

Among the forces at play, Rulers’ World can authoritatively report, is the Muslim community which is said to be angling for one of their own for the plum seat. The other being the umbrella body of Ibadan indigenes, the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), which also reportedly insisted on having a “son of the soil” as the new VC. It is the CCII’s position that since the establishment of the institution in 1948, no indigene of the ancient town has headed the institution.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Adebola Ekanola

The development only showed that political and religious considerations are rated above competence. It then calls for concern that as a Citadel of Learning, a university should tower above primordial consideration. Yet, neither religion nor ethnic background was listed as criteria for the selection of VC for the institution.

In the advertisement for the position of VC, the requirements listed by the university Council include scholar of the rank of professor with a minimum of 10-year experience; a demonstration of the ability to provide academic and administrative leadership; a person of proven integrity who must not be more than 65 years old as at the date of possible assumption of duty on December 1, 2020; a person capable of commanding the respect of national and international academic communities; a person capable of strengthening the bridges between staff, students and other members of the university community; a person with a clear vision for the development of the university and that enjoys excellent physical and mental health, and attract the much-needed funds into the university.

Early this year, the university was ranked among the top universities in the world by the Time Higher Education World University Ranking 2021. The 72-year-old institution moved from its previous position as one of the top 600 universities in the world. Sadly, the university cannot be said to be in the same league with institutions such as Bournemouth University, Aaron University, Durban University of Technology, and the University of Florida, to mention but a few.

Nevertheless, the institution is not just only the first university in Nigeria but in academic ranking, it is also on the top list.