By: Nimi Princewill.
I have just read a very lengthy piece with the above referenced subject by one Sulaiman Owolabi. My initial reaction is that while the entire subject of writing and passing comments on public issues is an art, when it has to do with deep subject, especially one relating to a reputable citadel of learning like the University of Ilorin, then a writer should endeavor to make his writing as scientific and evidence-based as possible.
While I do not know Owolabi in person, the very first paragraph of his article gives him away as someone courting the fate of a mad scientist who got devoured by the monster he created because he failed to adhere to basic scientific logic.
A writer, like Owolabi, who built an entire piece of writing around a Q&A with a new friend encountered in a ‘drama show’, a less than a day engagement with students and a premeditated act of observing the university environment, cannot be said to be objective or logical; more so that a balanced view would have required him to get the views of the man he gleefully announced as “a bull in a China shop at the University of Ilorin…”.
In the article in question, Owolabi blended fiction with hearsay, emotion with blackmail, and therefore succeeded in burying the few salient points he raised in an ocean of hyperbolic sentences and paragraphs.
With his obvious perambulation and struggle to embellish the issues, it will take readers with gift of clairvoyance to know what issues Owolabi seek to bring up with his lengthy but directionless write up.
If the writer in question had focused attention on issues concerning the university environment and student welfare, every objective mind would have found his intervention to be progressive and well-intentioned. But when Owolabi delved into the administrative style of the VC and even raised issues that are of personal nature and therefore have no consequential effect on the general administration of the university; then all those with discerning minds would realize that the article in question is only but the media leg of the politics surrounding the emergence of Professor Abdulkareem as Unilorin Vice Chancellor.
Now to the few issues raised by Owolabi: bushy university environment, allegation of directing faculties and departments to source for money, the issue of students who collapsed during CBT exams., ASUU issue, ethnic bias, issues of rape, cultism and burglary and religion favoritism in relation to Muslims/Christians.
To start with, the issue of bush around some faculties and departments clearly underlies the fact that people forgets what consequence the attainment of a desire may bring. In the past, many have accused former Vice Chancellors of the institution, especially Professor Ishaq Oloyede, of being dictatorial in approach. When the incumbent VC therefore decided to return all powers to the faculties and departments so they can be fully in charge; many praised his broadmindedness.
However, power by nature often comes with responsibilities. With the decentralization of power to the departments and faculties, which was what the majority of the heads of the departments have always clamored for; funds were made available annually for Deans and HODs to run their various Faculties and Departments.
Therefore, if some of the Deans failed to discharge their duties as expected, the right thing, based on the principle of fairness, is to hold the respective Deans concerned responsible and prevail on them to discharge the responsibilities that go with the powers vested in them. It would be quite uncharitable and even hypocritical to blame the VC who was magnanimous enough to decentralize administrative power in the university.
On the issue of rape, cultism and burglary, it goes without telling that the University of Ilorin is a big institution with competing tendencies as a result of the nature of the majority of its community members. It’s most unlikely that a university environment harboring young people with diverse characters would be devoid of crime or some elements of criminality. This explains why sociologists would often conclude that no society is devoid of crime.
However, despite admitting that zero crime is impossible in an environment made up of young people, it is instructive to note that the VC has continued to strengthen security within the campus, even going as far as utilizing the whistleblower policy so students can come forward with information regarding crime and criminals in their midst.
The VC is also strongly committed to a culture of meting the harshest punishments to any apprehended offender to serve as deterrent.
More specifically, any crime committed within the campus that requires the application of existing university laws and regulations has been dispensed with.
If, for instance, the writer is referring to the case of one lecturer in the faculty of education who raped a 17 year old student, the University has since adopted the recommendation of the disciplinary committee for his dismissal.
Regarding the allegation of ethnic bias leveled against the Vice Chancellor, it’s significant to state that Prof. Age is one of the most detribalized Nigerians around who doesn’t relate with anyone based on ethnic background but rather potentials and capabilities. This is one quality that sets the VC apart amongst the best leaders.
On ASUU, it’s significant to note that the union is an independent body. In fact, the age-long tussle that was brought to an end recently wasn’t the brain child of Prof. Age but the willingness of all parties involved to shield their swords. We all know this might not be possible with some other Vice Chancellors, but it was achieved largely due to the inclusive leadership style of Prof. Abdulkareem Age.
The accusation of Mrs. Ishola ‘dominating everywhere’ is baseless. This is a very responsible and hardworking woman who broods no –nonsense. It is a puerile argument to say she is employing those she knows or likes without recourse to qualifications. I know quite a number of people who applied for jobs in the University of Ilorin, and who were shortlisted and invited for interview alongside others who travelled from different States across Nigeria. Do all the interviewees know Mrs. Ishola too?
It is said that every competition is a zero sum game and those who lose must have the decency to support the winner in the interest of the system. No doubt, all these nebulous allegations against the VC and those around him are surfacing because he won the contest for the position of the Vice Chancellor of the ‘Better By Far’ university. Otherwise, it beats imagination that the same person who was Vice Chancellor of University, Al-Hikmah, for five years without any record of any allegation against him would suddenly be swimming in an ocean of misdeeds and bad choices.
Professor Age still remains the same person he was when he meritoriously led Al-Hikmah University to the admiration of all and sundry. Just like when he was at Al-Hikmah, he has refused to allow himself to be controlled by any external factors or persons in the discharge of his duties as Unilorin helmsman. He also doesn’t fancy sycophancy or likes anyone who pretends or acts the fool around him. Those who are stoking fire from behind the scene because of a contest that was long over would therefore need to contend with a man whose eyes are firmly on the ball.
While it was obvious that Owolabi made some of the allegations in error because he was obviously uninformed about the workings of a university; it’s however important for someone who prides himself as a great alumnus of Unilorin to help in the propagation of the many good news that are emanating from the institution. This is a task I hope Owolabi and his sponsors would dedicate their energy. After all, it’s the glory of Unilorin, and not its failures, that the behind the scene faces would like to inherit if and when they eventually attain the ambition of sitting on the VC chair.
For many of us, our alma mater, the University of Ilorin, is recording plenty of good news that far outweigh the bad ones, especially in the last few years. Owolabi may choose to focus on the negatives and so chose to ignore the cheerful news that University of Ilorin and four others have bagged the National Tertiary Admission Performance Merit Award for their outstanding performance in the 2018 admission by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board.
It’s also possible that he is unaware of one of the lecturers who just invented a machine that can produce over 400 pencils in just 1 hour. All these are positive news that not even the antics of those battling with the pains of a concluded competition can detract from.
University of Ilorin, under the current leadership, has remained better by far and it would continue to be so.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed are those of the writer and do not represent the position of INSIDER or any of its reporters/editors.