Uniosun VC race: NMA condemns exclusion medical profs

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The Osun State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has condemned the disenfranchisement of medically qualified professors as candidates for the position of the state university’s Vice Chancellor.

Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday, 17 August, 2021 in Osogbo, the state NMA Chairman, Dr Rasak Akindele said the recently advertised application for the position of Vice-Chancellor by the current VC of the University, Prof Labode Popoola specifically requesting for only candidates with doctoral degree for which it was interpreted to be the possession of PhD is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise the medical lecturers who possess the postgraduate Fellowship (which is the highest academic and professional qualification of the medical profession).

According to him, the stand is completely unacceptable to the state NMA.

“As a post-secondary school student seeking for admission you cannot be admitted to study Medicine if you are not above average amongst your peer because the cut-off mark for Medicine & Surgery and Dentistry, and some other professional courses like Law and Engineering, are the highest in almost all institutions offering the courses. And when you are admitted the rigor in going through the career is so enormous.

“Medical curriculum is not run on semester basis like other courses but continuous medical postings of which you can only have one or two weeks break with each posting, sometimes after four to six months posting. No end of semester holiday like others. Also doctors spend minimum of six years to qualify after which a compulsory housemanship has to be done for one year. You will agree with me that if such person runs a four year BSc programme he would have completed his/her Masters degree before the doctor finishes his/her housemanship,” he said.

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The NMA Chairman continued, “The doctors’ Residency programme takes minimum of 4 to 8 years to obtain the Fellowship which is the highest academic and professional qualification to teach and practise Medicine. A doctor in Residency for 6 to 8 years would have completed three PhDs programme if he does them serially. The PhD is at par with the first degree of medicine (MBBS). The National Postgraduate Medical College recently introduced the MD degree for medical trainees who may not be willing to complete the Fellowship programme – an option lower than the fellowship degree academically. If a Medical Professor has undergone these rigorous of research, training and service to get to this position, it is quite irritating to say such a person cannot lead the University community which he belongs. A Medical Professor can be the Head of department, Dean, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor but cannot become the Vice-Chancellor. What a paradox! College of Health Sciences is one of the very important Colleges in the University and yet you say a Professor from such college cannot become the chief executive of the university if he does not possess PhD”.

The NMA Chairman also kicked against some contents of the advertisement which he said are obnoxious. According to him, demands such as possession of Researchgate score of 15.0 and 800 citations is far-fetched. None of the three Vice-Chancellers UNIOSUN has produced, including the incumbent, has these qualifications.

The incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Professor Labo Popoola has an H-index of 11 on Google Scholar instead of the advertised 15. He has 284 Researchegate Citations instead of the 800 advertised and 15.29 Researchgate score.

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“The National University Commision (NUC) guidelines stipulate Medical Fellowships DEGREE of National Postgraduate College or West African Postgraduate College and other equivalent certificates as entry point for appointment as Lecturer I in the Faculty of Clinical Sciences and Basic Medical Sciences. The same NUC guidelines determine that PhD Certificate holders of all other disciplines be appointed as Lecturer 11 similar to MBBS certificates holders. A fresh PhD holder will need three more years to attain the position of Lecturer 1.

“By the NUC guidelines, the medical Fellowship is the minimum as well as the highest degree required to be a Clinical Lecturer. The Medical Fellowship awarded by the National Post-graduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN) or its equivalent is both an Academic and Professional doctorate degree,” he noted.

Akindele also pointed out that contrary to the precedence in UNIOSUN, holders of the prestigious and internationally recognized Medical Fellowships (without PhD) are currently serving, or have previously served, as VCs in first generation and even new generation Nigerian Universities.

The association therefore recommended and demand that a fresh advertisement be put forward stating possession of PhD or its equivalent Certificate including Fellowship. In the alternative, the possession of PhD be removed and replaced with scholar of international repute like University of Ibadan.

The fresh advertisement should also exclude all external origin, bias and deliberate specifications that have no major bearing on the functions of the University Chief Executive as separate from only a researcher in the University.

According to the association, “this is in line with international best practice and will prevent a DELIBERATE EXCLUSION of clinical lecturers with Fellowship degree ONLY and who are qualified, from the selection process for the position of the VC as in the current advertisement”.

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The association revealed that Osun state has witnessed harmony and stability in the health and education sectors under the present administration due to proactive and rational ways of conducting the affairs of these sectors by Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his team while the state NMA has made several peaceful moves to abate any disharmony in any of these sectors.

The association described the press statement over the weekend by the Osun State University PRO, Mr Ademola Adesuji as ill conceived and quite unfortunate.

“Saying that the qualification for the position of VC in UniOsun remains as advertised is devoid of rational reasoning. The statement that UNIOSUN is not LASU and LASU is not UNIOSUN is quite embarrassing to the government and the people of the state. Lagos State government saw reasons with the genuine agitations of Lagos NMA, MDCAN and others and withdrew the similar advertisement initially released by the Lagos State University and replaced with another one which is all encompassing and does not discriminate against any sector of the academia.

“Mr. Ademola Adesoji’s statement will heat up the system and disrupt the peace that this government seeks in all sectors of Osun State,” the association noted.

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