A group, Coalition for Autonomy of Universities in Nigeria (CAUN), says that the University of Ibadan deserves nothing but the best in human management at its helm of affairs.
The CAUN Coordinator, Tunde Olaoluwa, in a statement issued on Thursday in Ibadan, said that appointment of the vice chancellor for the premier university should be based on merit rather other extraneous considerations.
The group noted that it had been watching, with keen interest, the contest for the position of the vice chancellor of the institution, stemming from its pride of place in the country’s university sector.
“More worrisome is the introduction of some strange factors, besides academic records and administrative capabilities, into the contest for the position of the vice chancellor of the university.
“The university system, known for its strong, scientific and ethical processes of selection or appointment of vice chancellors, has now been corrupted for pecuniary purposes other than seeking academic transformation of the institution for real growth and development.
“CAUN, consisting of alumni of Nigerian universities, cannot watch the gradual erosion of the tradition and autonomy of the university through the introduction of extraneous factors like ethnicity, religion, political affiliations, godfatherism and influence of external parties, into the contest for the position of the vice chancellor of UI.
“All these will destroy the university’s enviable tradition, which politicians are often advised to emulate. This may not be too good for the image of this citadel of learning,” Olaoluwa said.
According to the group, “What the University of Ibadan, whose catchment area is the whole federation, requires is a well-groomed university administrator who has an excellent knowledge of the system, the host community and the people.
“He/She should be someone with an international connection to attract funding and recognition to the university.
“One who really has a vision for a university that will really be autonomous in the sense of funding, introduction of new academic programmes and strengthening the existing ones to make them contribute to national development.”
The coordinator, however, said that the current global challenge by the COVID-19 pandemic called for a versatile and visionary leader.
He stated that the premier university needed a leader, who would completely transform it, the people, the system and the structure to make it the pride of all stakeholders.
Olaoluwa noted that the incoming vice chancellor should be capable of maintaining an environment conducive for research and learning as well as a peaceful academic environment, devoid of unrest, adding that the recent past had witnessed many of these.
He also cautioned that the legacy of the institution must not be destroyed by putting ethnic and religious considerations into the appointment of its vice chancellor.
“Let meritocracy guide us back to the real autonomy of universities in Nigeria, starting with the process of appointment of the vice chancellor of the institution.
“The process must be transparent and acceptable to all stakeholders in order to guarantee an atmosphere of peace necessary for research, teaching and learning.
“Anything short of adoption of meritocracy will have negative consequences on the future of education in Nigeria.
“It will set the tone for other universities, given that UI is the training ground for most prospective vice chancellors of Nigerian universities, both public and private,” he said.