By Blessing Olowolafe
I have been reading some online reactions to an innocent comment made by the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of Osun State University, Professor Labode Popoola on the journey of the university so far. We note that the respected Professor simply captured it as: “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, which indeed is the reality of life. In specific terms, he narrated his observations and experiences in the first few months of his tenure. It is indeed worrisome how and why a clear and candid account of the sordid scenarios the period would then attract the mostly uninformed and unguarded reactions in the social media.
I can lay claim to knowing the institution intimately. From the high profile attained during the tenures of the Governing Council led by Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola and the Management led by equally distinguished Professor Sola Akinrinade, Professor Labode Popoola’s description of the situation he inherited in November, 2016 was most appropriate.
Here was an institution then in the news for unsalutary reasons; students engaged in running battles with security agencies. All that Professors in vantage positions were concerned with was sharing and fighting over filthy lucre. By the first quarter of the year 2017, about Two Billion Naira was owed in fees. Substantial part of this humongous amount may never be recovered since some members of staff colluded with students/graduates to get clearance. Over 500 student that had been asked to withdraw at various times were still hanging on in the system. When the new no nonsense administration insisted on the students doing the basic thing by registering before they could write examinations, gates were locked. The rot at UNIOSUN then, necessitated the setting up of a Visitation Panel headed by Professor Biyi Daramola, the then Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure. The comprehensive damning report of the Panel, which were gazetted in a Government White Paper led to the removal of some Principal Officers and the serious indictment of some Professors. The indicted officers and Professors were asked to refund various sums of illegally shared money, while the report conclude that the continued engagement of one notorious Professor within the University would endanger the peace and progress of UNIOSUN based on the evidence of virtually all the stakeholders that appeared before the Panel including the parents. That was the University that some misguided members of the less than one year old alumni executive and their sponsors described as “world class university”. Like the Yoruba people would say: b’omode ko ba itan, yoo ba aroba…. Unfortunately, this notorious professor remained in the system, creating more havoc by the day.
It would appear that some key members of the executive of the alumni association are products of those better forgotten era at UNIOSUN. When we contacted the Vice-Chancellor on his reaction to the rantings of some members of the alumni association, he simply retorted: Do you expect me to join issues with my children? He also said in Yoruba: Agba ki i s’oro bi ewe. Our independent investigations revealed that the university administration inherited a largely reasonable caretaker alumni association headed by Owolabi Bibitayo, currently an Assistant Lecturer in the university. The current alumni executive is a product of three years of bitter struggles among members. In 2018, the current president, who can hardly speak or write a single good sentence in English Language, and his group came with arms, amulets and charms to the auditorium to contest an election! They fought the executive that “emerged” then, including instituting court processes. Management and Council had to intervene by putting activities of the group on hold, placed a “post no debit” on their account, which was actually the attraction. Incidentally, it is this same Vice Chancellor that freed about N20m proceeds from alumni levies from 2011 to 2016 earlier assumed to belong to the university. He insisted the university had no right to spend it, and thereafter, facilitated the opening of the alumni association’s first ever bank account.
From the steps the current executive of the alumni association has taken so far, it is obvious that some of their leaders are products of the sordid phase of this potentially great university. The president, a partisan politician was actively involved in dirty contracts deals in the university, using different company names to procure inflated contracts, which he always got through internal collusion. Of course, this no nonsense and incorruptible Vice Chancellor blocked that. We also found out that the unruly secretary of the association is a disciple of an illicit drug-addict unionist and a notorious professor who has been at the centre of all crises in the university since inception in his unending desperation to become Vice Chancellor.
No attempt to drag the thousands of decent alumna and alumnae of this fledgling university into the dirty and self-serving politics of some members of the current executive and their desperate sponsors will work. Majority of the alumni dissociated themselves from the unnecessary escalation of a candid opinion of someone they consider as a father indeed, and who has laboured to reposition their university. The founding fathers and mothers who watched almost helplessly while their legacies were being eroded by a rogue cabal who have no claim to scholarship are indeed, pleased with the purposeful and historic administration of the out going Vice-Chancellor. In barely five years, that administration lifted the university in all aspects, name them: regular calendar, responsible and responsive student unionism, blocking of leakages, rebranding of the university to be a model, international visibility, student accommodation on six campuses, state of the art laboratories, improved programme quality and quantity, improved service delivery, respect for stakeholders among others.
This alumni executive is too young and inexperienced and should be advised not to tarnish the image of this rebranded university through its rantings and uncouth language. They will do well to close out this needless scuffle.
Disclaimer: This piece represents the opinion of the writer
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