Crisis looms at OAU over appointment of VC

Obafemi-Awolowo-University-• Senate has elected board reps, council hasn’t , says ASUU SSANU, NASU seek council’s dissolution
• Suspension of process, We’ve done no wrong, say authorities 

Who was in Ile-Ife a crisis is brewing at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State over alleged compromise of due process in the appointment of a new vice chancellor for the institution.

The institution’s Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) accuse the school’s governing council led by Prof.Rowland Ndoma Egba of colluding with the outgoing administration of Prof. Idowu Omole to compromise the process of appointing a new helmsman.

The leaders of the unions, Ademola Oketunde of SSANU and Wole Odewumi of NASU during interviews with The Guardian urged a dissolution of the council for going against the statues guiding the appointment and or suspension of the process altogether.

The major bone of contention is the alleged pre-emptive move by the council to award scores and rank candidates before the joint council and senate selection board is constituted. The board is the statutory body vested with the power to screen candidates.

The unions said for committing such a blunder deliberately, the council should be dissolved and another constituted to undertake the appointment process.
But the school authorities, through the Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olanrewaju debunked the allegations, maintaining that the council had not erred in the process so far and that the aggrieved unions should allow the matter to be settled as a “family affair.”

The law guiding the appointment of a new vice chancellor is contained in OAU Statue 6, Sections 3(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) as amended by Statue 22, the Miscellaneous Decree 11 of 1992.

It makes provision for the advertisement of the vacancy for the post of a vice chancellor, which would specify the qualities required; the constitution of a search team; the setting up of a joint council and senate selection board, made up of two members of the senate, three members of the council and chaired by the chairman of the governing council.

The two unions, in an open letter to the president recently, confirmed that stages (a) and (b) had been completed, as the search team had submitted its report to the council, which was adopted on March 10, wherein 39 candidates were contacted, 36 declined while three accepted, but none applied.

They added that six candidates had been shortlisted out of 11 candidates that eventually applied for consideration.They alleged, however, that it was at that point that due process in the appointment procedure ended and a ‘curious’ strategy was adopted to rank the candidates as against sticking with the requirements contained in the advertisement put out in two national dailies as stipulated by the law.

Noting that the ranking of the candidates amounted to usurping the powers of the joint council and senate selection board, which ought to “consider the candidates and persons shortlisted by council through an examination of their curriculum vitae and interaction with them and subsequently, make recommendations back to the council,” they passed a vote of no confidence in the council’s handling of the process.

Giving an update on the appointment process on Monday, Oketunde said: “They have started wrongly and when you start a building on a wrong foundation, it is bound to collapse. They didn’t follow the laid down procedure; neither did they follow the statue of the university.

“That is why OAU chapters of SSANU and NASU have asked that the process be halted. We are also demanding the dissolution of the council. We believe that that body knows the procedure for the appointment of the vice chancellor and that was why they were given such a responsibility. But in a situation whereby they were supposed to shortlist qualified candidates in accordance with the advertised criteria but went ahead to do the work of the selection board, which should be peopled by members drawn from the senate and the council, we must rise against the procedure.”

On alleged shortcomings of the council and complicity of the chairman with the school management, he said:“We are in court on the two-step differential, pensions and a 15 percent allowance. The 15 per cent allowance was approved in January 2007. Budgets have been passed over the years and the school has been collecting its share. Where is this money? That is why when we saw the game plan of the council and this administration, we were certain that they were not ready to solve our problems.

“We regarded the council chairman as our father and complained to him to find a solution but he has not been living up to his responsibilities.”

But Olanrewaju debunked the allegations, cautioning that the processes involved in the appointment of vice chancellors were not undertaken on the pages of newspapers.

“In relations to allegations that the processes have been compromised, I am not aware of that. And as the PRO of the university, I think I am knowledgeable enough to know and to advise appropriately so that we won’t have negative press regarding the processes.

“The chairman of the governing council, Prof. Rowland Ndoma Egba, wouldn’t do anything that would truncate, jeopardise or bastardise his primary constituency, which is academia and the university by extension.”

On claims that the selection committee had not been constituted, he said: “The committee has been constituted. The senate sat and elected members to represent them. I don’t think other processes are not being followed. The unions that claimed that the processes are not being followed are members of this community. We have four unions here and only two are protesting. We are a family here and I believe that we ought to come to a roundtable to resolve our issues, if in fact there are issues, instead of saying that processes are not followed.”

The chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in OAU, Dr. Caleb Aborishade, confirmed that the senate had elected its representative for the joint council and senate selection board, but the council hadn’t appointed theirs.
“It is until the council meets that they would appoint their representative on the selection board.

“The controversy is that the council ranked candidates, but we have not seen any evidence to that effect and ASUU doesn’t base its decision on rumour but on what is verifiable. The council confirmed to the congress of ASUU that it hasn’t ranked candidates,” he added.

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