By Gabriel Dike
At last! The Lagos State University (LASU), Oojo, has got a new Vice Chancellor. She is Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello. And she would run the affairs of the 38-year-old institution for the next five years. That was after two failed attempts.
LASU Visitor, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, gave his nod for her as the ninth substantive VC, ending the race for the replacement of Prof Olarenwaju Fagbhoun, whose tenure ended in January 2021.
However, less than 24 hours after her appointment, questions were raised about her eligibility. But, the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Governing Council, Sir David Sunmoni, told The Education Report:
‘’We followed the law governing the selection process to the best of our ability.
“We were fair and transparent in the just concluded exercise. Each time the Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee takes decision, we carry stakeholders along. You have to have conviction to your heart, to your conscience and to God. God is the master and judge of everything we did.
“Prof Olatunji-Bello is qualified like other professors to aspire for the position and she emerged on merit. One thing I feel happy about the exercise and as someone who believes in God and tries to be fair to all, the question I asked; is she qualified for the position? Yes. Did she emerge first in the selection exercise? The answer is yes.
“The Joint Council and Senate Committee for the Appointment of a substantive VC are men and women of integrity. We recommended three professors in order of merit and the Visitor appointed the best for LASU.
‘’I don’t have any problem with the selection exercise. After the selection process, I came home and I told my wife that I am going to sleep with all my eyes closed. When you look at what is published in the social media and newspapers, you ask why these false write-ups.
“On criteria for the post, throughout the exercise, we were all unanimous in our decision. The seven people in the selection committee are made up of people with high integrity.”
A top government official said: ‘’Forget about the insinuations about the new VC. The question is, ‘is she qualified?’ We know what happened in the last two cancelled exercises. Prof Olatunji-Bello came tops in the last interview and beat the two other professors with a wide margin. Let them go through her CV it is loaded.
‘’I don’t know what they intend to achieve with these insinuations about her appointment. She is qualified for the position and merited the appointment. It is not because of anybody that she got the job, it is purely on merit and her performance at the interview.’’
He said Olatunji-Bello met the advert criteria that stated applicant must be a full professor of 10 years standing as at the date of the publication with 15 years of teaching and research experience in the university system; possess PhD degree or Doctor of Medicine (MD); produce PhD students; have track record of university administration and management as well as proven evidence of leadership quality.
He said the applicant must have national and international exposure beyond academics, a world-class personality; a goal-getter and ability to raise fund for sustaining the autonomy of the university; possess good grasp of Information and Communication Technology skills and appreciate; a strategic thinker with passion and zeal for excellence, creativity and innovation in higher education; enjoy excellent physical and mental health, have verifiable certificates; command high respect of his/her colleagues, grounded in academic tradition; a visionary leader capable of sustaining university prominence in the 21st century.
He claimed that Olatunji-Bello possesses the ability to sustain harmony between council, other organs of the university administration, staff and students on one hand and between the institution and the host communities on the other hand; capacity and requisite skills to lead and inspire principal officers, management staff and other workers to realize the core objectives and mandates of LASU among others.
How Olatunji-Bello was picked
Following a petition to Sanwo-Olu of their exclusion, the advert for the post was amended to allow Medical Fellowship holders to apply. At the close of submission of application, six professors indicated interest.
The exercise started with the election of three Senate members to the Joint Committee of Council and Senate. They were elected on the floor of council meeting. In the two botched exercises, this process was not followed.
The selection committee shortlisted four professors; two from LASU, one from outside the country and the last applicant is a current Deputy Vice Chancellor of a private university.
They were Prof Omotayo Awofolu, Namibia University of Science and Technology, a former staff of Chemistry Department LASU; Senapon Bakre, Professor of Food and Industrial Microbiology, Faculty of Science and former deputy vice chancellor of LASU; Ibikunle Tijani, Professor of History and DVC, Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State and Olatunji-Bello, Professor of Physiology, Lagos State University College of Medicine and former LASU deputy vice chancellor.
Two applicants were not shortlisted. They are Kabiru Akinyemi, Professor of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, LASU. He was former Dean, Students Affairs and was shortlisted in the aborted two exercises and Prof Yinka Belewu, Animal Science, University of Ilorin, Kwara State.
It was learnt that the two did not meet the 10 years condition as professors. Interestingly, professors without PhD in LASU, particularly those from Lagos State University College of Medicine and outside did not apply for the position.
Less than 24 hours after the interview, the council recommended three professors to the Visitor for the post. They are Olatunji-Bello, Awofolu and Bakre in that order.
Olatunji-Bello immediately hit the ground running as the second female VC of the state university. On Monday, September 20, 2021, LASU literarily stood still as staff and students trooped out with band boys to usher her into the campus.