OAU protests, interference in varsity autonomy, says ASUU

 OAU protests, interference in varsity autonomy, says ASUU. The Academic Staff Union of Universities has described the ongoing protests against the selection of the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, as disrespectful and interference with the autonomy of the university system.

Speaking in an interview with The PUNCH, the National President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, explained that it had become a norm for some stakeholders to stand against the selection process in the institution, as was the case when the outgoing VC came in.

Some indigenes of Ile-Ife had on March 17, 2022, started a protest after the Governing Council Chairman, Mr. Owelle Udoji, announced Prof Adeboye Bamire, a native of Oyan in the Odo-Otin Local Government Area of Osun State, as the 12th substantive VC of the university.

They insisted that an indigene of Ile-Ife must be made the VC of OAU.

Bamire was expected to resume on June 7, 2022, but the school witnessed turmoil caused by members of the community since the announcement was made.

As a result of the crisis, the OAU was on Friday shut down by the management for two weeks.

Osodeke advised that the vice-chancellor should be selected on merit and not on the basis of ethnicity and religion.

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 He stated, “How did the outgoing VC, Eyitope Ogunbodede, become the VC? A selection was done and somebody was selected and the non-academic staff, the villagers, and the others started rioting, and that person was removed, which then paved the way for Ogunbodede to come in. When he became the VC through the help of the Congress of University Academics, an illegal group, he started promoting CONUA, an illegal group with no registration with the Trade Union Congress.

“A VC should be selected by a standard based on merit and performance. Recently, a Nigerian man was appointed a VC in the United Kingdom, but today you can’t see an Igbo man becoming a VC in the West; a westerner cannot become a VC in Igboland too. These are the issues we are talking about on the issue of university autonomy.

“These are the ways we have reduced our universities. If autonomy is allowed to stand, nobody will be talking about ethnicity or religion. The autonomy of the university should be respected without interference. What we are seeing now is interference by the community, the process, and who is sitting there as VC and promoting illegality, which has created more illegality. How can a VC be saying he belongs to an illegal group called CONUA that is not registered?

“I want to tell people all over the country that they should allow the best person to be the VC. Once the university is developed, the people will develop and the community will develop; it doesn’t have to be somebody from your village; it has to be somebody who can perform and run the university well and ensure that students and lecturers get fairness and are well-taken care of. The VC must ensure development and good space for students to learn; that is what we are supposed to be preaching, not village and ethnicity. It should be merit alone.”

On his own part, the Lagos Zone Coordinator, ASUU, Dr. Adelaja Odukoya, stated, “The shameful development as exemplified by the Ife indigenes’ occult parade in OAU, one of our nation’s heritage with a global presence, is not a happenstance. It is actually a metaphor for what our universities have become.

“They are localized, if not illegalized universities, that are mostly appendages of government houses, palaces of traditional rulers, churches, mosques and traditional shrines in the mundane and unscholarly struggles for power.”

The Chairman, ASUU Lagos State branch, Dr. Dele Ashiru, maintained that the OAU VC saga was a result of the desecration of the academia and a manifestation of the decay in the ivory tower, and a shame to all the dramatis personae.

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Credit: Punch Newspaper

By Olumide Sekunowo

Content Author for @study4naija

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