OAU Vice-Chancellor Calls for More Independent Universities, Free From Government Bureaucratic Control and Interference

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By Muyiwa Adekojede

The OAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Eyitope OgungbenroOgunbodede demand for adequate university autonomy fromNigeria government when he delivered the 9th Sofoluwe Adetokunbo annual series titled “Education administration and the new normal: a forecast of the Nigerian educational system in a post pandemic era” at the University of Lagos.

The Vice-Chancellor stressed the need to eliminate excessive bureaucracy used by government agencies and parastatals to diminish the autonomy of Nigerian universities. He noted that universities all over Nigeria have been struggling to go beyond expectation with this in play.

As a matter of fact, the call for University autonomy has been a major struggle of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with the FG during the lockdown. In his word:

“It is unfortunate that the Vice-Chancellors that used to recruit the best of staff for their universities can no longer recruit the most junior staff without authorization from several agencies of government. 

“For example, in my first year as Vice-Chancellor it was normal and acceptable for the Vice-Chancellor to approve temporary appointment for a maximum of one year.

“In the second year (2018), the University’ GIEMIS platform had made it impossible to take such a decision even if a crucial lecturer resigns, falls sick or dies suddenly. Many who had retired could not be replaced because you need the intervention of not only the Federal Character Commissionbut also the Accountant General’s office to employ any staff.”

The 9th Sofoluwe Adetokunbo is an annual lecture series to celebrate the life and times of the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Babatunde AdetokunboSofoluwe who was called home on the 12th of May, 2012.

The late Professor Adetokunbo Babatunde Sofoluwe began his career in 1976 as a graduate. He rose through the ranks to become Professor in October 1996 and was appointed the 10th Vice-Chancellor of the UNILAG on 31st Of January 2010.

The internationally-acclaimed Professor Eyitope emphasized that the emergence of a new norm which has come to stay in the university system, home, and abroad.

Furthermore, he noted that every person, regardless of class, should be considered and carried along virtual learning. As he put it: 

“Everyone can afford the resources or requirement to take online classes. And as such, we should take into consideration everyone when engaging the new normal.”

In his remarks, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, a Unilag alumnus, shed light on how quality education has shifted from public to private schools.

He explained that underperformance from public school staff has fuelled this change. According to him:

“The quality of education in public schools has continued to deteriorate since independence.”

Speaking on how incessant strikes and corvid-19 has affected education, in other to reach all academic heights, ProfessorEyitope enjoined all educational stakeholders and external bodies to promote regularity in academic calendar. He explained:

“If our educations institutions are to meet International standards and rank among the best in the world, we need to ensure the regularity of our calendar”.

The public welcomed the presence and commentaries of several dignitaries at the event such as CEO Channels TVC, John Mommoh, Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Professor Rahman Bello, Dr. Benjamin Oluwatosin Olowojebutu (Chairman), Dr. Khalid Adekoya, Vice-chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and more.

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