Stakeholders challenge OAU VC on stability, peace on campus

…as Ooni lauds council for transparency

Almost one year after the plans of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to get a substantive Vice-Chancellor was scuttled by protracted opposition and protest against the appointment of Prof. Ayobami Salami by some sections of the workers’ unions, a new vicechancellor has appointed for the institution.

A major step to restore normalcy was unfolded last week with the appointment of a substantive Vice-Chancellor for the 55-year-old university to replace the Acting Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Anthony Elujoba, who was named the vice-chancellor in acting capacity to restore peace on campus following the protest that greeted the appointment of Salami to succeed Prof. Bamitale Omole.

With the appointment of Eyitope Ogunbodede, a Professor of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the College of Health Sciences of the university as the substantive Vice-Chancellor, the members of the university community have described the development as a new dawn for the university.

But, the stakeholders especiallythe workers’unions suchas the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non- Academic Staff Union (NASU), as well as students’ union and alumni association have challenged the new Vice-Chancellor to harmonise all factions as well as restore peace and stability to the campus.

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of the institution, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, while announcing the new appointment, said: “At the end of the council meeting held at Senate Building. We unveiled the resolution of the council where the decision for his choice was taken.

He, however, noted that the decision on Ogunbodede’s choice had beencommunicatedtotheMinisterof Education Mallam Adamu Adamu. According to him, “Ogunmodede emerged the substantive Vice- Chancellor of the university out of 22 candidates that applied for the position”.

“No fewer than 18 of the candidates applied within the institution, while the four others were from outside the university, who were searched by the Search Committee raised by the Governing Council for the purpose,” he said.

“One candidate was disqualified because he did not meet the requirements set by the university and after interviews and series of screening exercises supervised by joint selection panel by council and university Senate, Ogunbodede emerged as winner. Meanwhile, immediately the choice of Prof. Ogunbodede was announced, the entire campus was thrown to wild jubilation by stakeholders in the university community, who hailed the appointment.

They were said to have turned the institution to a carnival like as they rolled out the drums and danced round the campus to welcome the new vice-chancellor.

However, in his brief remarks, the new Vice-Chancellor pledged total commitment to his new assignment with a view to taking the university to the next level. Ogunbodede, who is expected to formally assume office next month, said: “I pledge total commitment, determination, hard work, quick consultative decisions, discretion, impartiality and conscious enhancement of team work to move our great university forward. “I also promise to deploy efficient strategies to make OAU a worldclass university that can compete with any university in the world and henceforth this university will continue to move forward according to the university’s song which says: “forward ever, backward never.”

According to the Public Relations Officer for the university, Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, “The university now has Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, a Professor of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the university as the Vice Chancellor of the 55-yearold institution.”

However, the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) it was gathered had since accepted the development with great joy. A NASU leader, Taofeek Ayoola described the appointment as a welcome development, pointing out that Prof. Ogunbodede is a preferred candidate for the position of vicechancellor of the university.

His position was echoed by the students, who expressed optimism that with the appointment, the institution would be free from strikes and other irregularities that characterized the opposition and protest the greeted the appointment of Prof. Salami.

They said: “The entire students are happy that the emergence of a new vice-chancellor did not lead to another closure of the institution and we hope the new vice-chancellor would restore normalcy and peace to university.”

Meanwhile, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, has commended the governing council for the unbiased and transparent process adopted in selecting a new Vice-Chancellor for the institution. The monarch gave the commendation when the Council Chair (Ogunbiyi), ledthenewvice-chancelloronacourtesy visit Oba Ogunwusi in his palace. The monarch, according to the university’s spokesman, lauded the council for inviting all the eligible candidates for the interview and for using the same criteria for assessing them.

“The level-playing ground created for all the candidates was symptomatic that the council members are people of high integrity, whose wealth of experience could be used to take Obafemi Awolowo University to a higher ground,” the monarch said.

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