FLASH-FORWARD: UI— ON THE APPOINTMENT OF A NEW VICE-CHANCELLOR

“The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action — an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign — even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo. In other words, real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.” -Bill Taylor, from article “Do You Pass the Leadership Test? 

The University of Ibadan Governing Council confirmed the appointment of Prof Adebola Ekanola as the Acting Vice-Chancellor (VC) for a period of six months on December 1, 2020. Prof. Ekanola had previously served as the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academic), Dean of the Faculty of Art and has over 60 publications to his name among many other achievements. For the months he has served, we have seen his hard work and we commend him for that. However, as his tenure will end by May, 2021, it is quite pertinent to put forward the standards to serve as a guide for the university community in electing the best candidate (a new VC) for the interests of all. 

Firstly, we want an election process that will be based on meritocracy, accountability, transparency and equal opportunity. We don’t mind if the new VC is an Ibadan indigene or not or whether it is male or female. All we want is for a well qualified and deserving candidate to be chosen on a free and fair election. We long for an election that will uphold the standards upon which the university is built and also live up to the hopes and aspirations of the university community. At the end of the election processes, we would love to proudly say “we elected the best and the best will be bestowed unto us.”

Furthermore, the university community needs a Vice-Chancellor that will understand the plights of the students. A VC who will feel the pains of the students, empathise with them and proper practicable solutions. We demand a VC who will attend to the security- threats by collaborating with the required security agencies on campus and ensure lives and properties are secured. We would love to have a VC who relates to the fact that our hostel lifestyle needs an upgrade; the rooms, kitchens, bathroom, reading rooms amongst many other needs to be restructured to be as comfortable as possible without placing a huge financial burden on the students. As students, we hope to see the new VC respond effectively and actively to our plights as we clamour for them or even before. We hope we would be able to express our grievances without fear of being sanctioned by the Students Disciplinary Committee (SDC) and he would drive the students to greater academic progress by putting plans in place to aid their academic growth. Lastly, it would be lovable to have a VC who recognises the importance of good health and engage in productive means in resuscitating and rebuilding the Jaja Clinic. 

In addition, a VC who understands the structure of a 21st Century education and knows how to make it available, affordable and comfortable for the university community is who we need.  We have been served by many administrations and we commend their efforts in development the university’s learning system. However, there is always a room for better improvement. We would love the new VC to accelerate both the virtual and ‘traditional’ learning modes to suit the demands and needs of the university community. We want an education system where up-to-date syllabi will be used, where our lecturers will be literate technology-wise and an education that will not burden and inconvenience the students but be accessible, desirable and pleasing. 

Similarly, we desire a VC who would be a true representative of both the teaching and non-teaching staff. The University only needs a VC who will raise the standard and condition of living of her staff members. We desire an administration who will pay salaries in earnest and boost the motivation of the staff to deliver the best. The staff desires a leader who will be their mouth piece and their true representatives; someone who will be a leader, just and equitable. We dearly hope their wishes will come true. Also, just like we advised the previous tenures, the new VC must also put measures in place to avoid constant face-offs with workers on campus, especially the SSANU and NASU; he/she would have to listen to their clamours and be responsive to them all as he must realise that the effects of these groups’ industrial actions are not only devastating to the students; they also give the university bad names and can  frustrate the success of his  administration.

Moving on, freedom of the press has been a constant worry in the university, as campus journalists are scared of writing on issues that relate to the university community. We however hope that this would not be the case under the new administration. We strongly believe that writing on major concerns within the university community is to draw the attention of necessary authorities to address them and not to indict or condemn. We hope campus journalists would enjoy at full liberty the freedom of the press without the fear of being penalised—which is fast becoming unstrange. We hope the university would be more friendly and accommodating, and campus journalists would not used as scapegoats.

Lastly, we desire a leader with unparalleled leadership skills. He or she must reign with balance ensuring all parties are adequately catered for to the best of his abilities. We wish him/her strength, health, and guidance to lead successfully when he or she is elected. 

In conclusion, we continue to wish our dear Acting VC a meritorious success for the rest of his administration. We dearly desire that Prof. Ekanola’s tenure will not end with a ‘symbolic farewell’ and he would deserve a thumbs up. By May, 2021, we expect we  would be able to conclude that Prof. Ekanola has proved his worth by improving the global academic performance of the university, seeing to the needs of the academic community, resolving any crisis that would paint the university in bad light as well as avoiding any past mistakes of his predecessors. 

Finally, we hope that the old saying, ‘if it must be from UI, it must, out of necessity, be of outstanding quality’ must be manifested in the election of a new vice chancellor for the University of Ibadan.

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