ASUU condemns LASU VC selection process

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The leadership of a faction of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, has written a letter of complaint to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over what it described as ‘non-transparent’, the ongoing selection process for the institution’s 9th substantive vice-chancellor.

The letter, dated January 1, 2021, and signed by both the secretary and his assistant, Tony Dansu and Adeolu Oyekan, respectively, also passed a vote of no confidence on the chairman of the university’s governing council, Adebayo Ninalowo.

The union also kicked against Mr Ninalowo’s chairmanship of the selection committee, and urged the governor, who doubles as the Visitor to the institution, to cancel the selection process if the allegations that the selected candidates are unqualified for the job are found to be true.

The tenure incumbent vice-chancellor, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun is billed to end on 11th January.

But ASUU is insisting that both Mr Fagbohun and some of the nominees for his replacement are unqualified to be LASU’s vice-chancellor based on some of the requirements it said were listed in the advertisement for the job in 2015 and 2020.

The union also alleged that the selection criteria for the 9th vice-chancellor were not presented to the university’s then newly appointed 11th governing council for debate before they were made public.

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The letter reads in part, “Signs that the process would be marred by irregularities emerged after the advertisement for the position of the Vice-Chancellor was made, a few days after the inauguration of the 11th Governing Council, and before its first meeting. The belief of many is that not bringing the criteria for selection before the new Council for deliberation is a calculated attempt to present the Selection Committee with a fait acompli.

“For instance, an advert that purported to improve on the 2015 exercise (in which possession of PhD was compulsory) by demanding 10 years of post-professorial experience from all applicants failed to state explicitly that PhD is a compulsory requirement, though subsequent parts of it made PhD supervision and examination additional requirements, meaning implicitly that those who do not possess PhD degrees are ineligible (Nemo dat quod non habet).

“The omission is inexplicable, given that the University recently began to disengage longstanding academic staff without PhD. Note also, that the LASU PG School Regulations 13 and 14 on eligibility to teach, examine and supervise postgraduate theses make a PhD compulsory for PhD courses and thesis supervision.”

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The union also alleged that the selection committee flouted its own rules by reportedly screening candidates who fell short of its set criteria.

“To make matters worse, it would appear that the selection committee was unable to abide by the conditions stipulated in the advertisement for the position of Vice-Chancellor, as candidates who did not meet some of the clearly stated criteria (i.e., possessing 10 year-post-professorial experience and having supervised PhD theses), scaled the shortlisting stage and even made it to the three-person list reportedly submitted to the Visitor.”

The union added that in a situation where “…where none of the reportedly sent names meets any of the requirements, we recommend a review of the selection process. Since the university law stipulates a recommendation of at least three names to the Visitor, we believe he may have to request from the committee the full list of all the applicants, and review the process to determine whether any of them meets the advertised conditions.”

“Failure to find any applicant that can be appointed from the full pool of applicants, we request a cancellation of the entire process, with a fresh one commenced and concluded within the shortest possible time, preferably not exceeding a period of 60 days.”

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It added that in the event a new process will be commenced afresh, the governing council chairman should recuse himself, accusing him of being involved in some scandals in the university, which the union noted had included the appointment of Mr Fagbohun as the university’s 8th substantive VC and the alleged controversies surrounding the date of his appointment as a professor.

Government reacts

In reaction to the petition, Special Adviser to Lagos State on Education, Mr Tokunbo Wahab said it deserves no response due to the status of the petitioners as former staffers of the university.

“Though the letter is not addressed to me but to the governor, the signatories have no legal justification for their position. They have been sacked from the university for misconduct, and their matter is in court. So, there is no basis for engaging them to avoid sub judice,” Mr Wahab said.

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