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Peace Returns To OAU As Reactions Trail Protest On VC’s Appointment

Peace Returns To OAU As Reactions Trail Protest On VC’s Appointment
  • PublishedMarch 25, 2022


Ismaeel Uthman, Kazeem Badmus

PEACE has returned to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, following a four-day protest by indigenes of the community over the appointment of the 12th Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Adebayo Bamire.

Bamire’s appointment was announced last week Thursday and his choice did not go down well with some Ile-Ife indigenes.

The indigenes were expecting their kinsman, Prof. Rufus Adedoyin to be appointed as the VC. 

Adedoyin, who reportedly came nine position in the VC’s candidates examination, petitioned the university’s Governing Council over the announcement of Bamire, arguing that he was more a qualified candidate as of the time of the VC selection. 

Apparently fighting Adedoyin’s cause, the Ile-Ife indigenes occupied the entrance gate of the OAU campus on Thursday and Friday of last week. 

They also resumed to the protest on Monday as traditionalists performed rituals inside the university’s campus with masquerades reining curses on supposed enemies of Ile-Ife. 

Several Ife indigenes invaded the varsity’s campus carrying charms and other fetish objects to protest the appointment of new OAU VC who is not a native of the town.

The protest was suspended on Tuesday following the intervention of the state government, the Ooni of Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, security agents and other stakeholders.   

Speaking on a Rave FM radio’s Frank Talk Programme in Osogbo, on Wednesday, the Global President, Great Ife Alumni Association, Engr. Wale Olaleye, said: “We have been following and monitoring the event since Thursday when the announcement was made. 

“We have been calling on the people in Ife and other places to reason with us to at least, maintain a peaceful protest and let us channel our grievances to the appropriate channel so that our revered institution that we are all proud of will not be turned into a theater of war.

“If there are grievances, there are ways to sort it out. If the protesters have put in their petitions, I believe the authorities will look at it and address it appropriately and I believe at the end of the day, this matter will be resolved.

Asked if the Alumni was satisfied with the processes that brought Bamire into place, Olaleye said: “In any process, when you are going for a competition, it is two ways. We had 20 contestants that vied for this position and 16 were screened. All of them are qualified to be the VC but at the end of the day, only one person can emerge. 

“When everyone has the requirements, there must also be other conditions which the interview panel must have looked into. That is why I am saying if there are processes to see whether this process is transparent, straightforward and follow due process, that is another thing for us to check. 

“As far as I am concerned, based on the information available, I believe they have done their best but definitely if you are not satisfied, you have the right to express your mind the way it is being done now.”

Process Not Transparent – Ife Development Council Chair  

Explaining why the Ile-Ife indigenes were protesting the appointment of Bamire, the Chairman, Ife Development Council, Mr. Lawrence Awowoyin said: “University of Ife is located in Ile-Ife. The first beneficiary of that kind of institution is Ile-Ife itself, economically, educationally and all sorts. So, Ife and its citizens cannot and will never work against the progress and development of the university because they know its importance.

“Also, it is important to know that naturally, Ife community must also have what we called the oversight function of any institution in their domain to make sure that institution is working effectively and to the benefit of all. So, with those two things, there is no way the community will work against the University.

“Let me say that the process of appointing Vice Chancellor is not all that shrouded in secrecy. It is something that supposed to be open and transparent, so that everybody will know they have done justice. But we all know that in every board appointment, interactions and proceedings, there is always the board politics and the board politics surround the management of that particular institution.

“The person that has caused this problem is the outgoing Vice Chancellor, because we believe that he is hostile and he has seen himself as the enemy of the community, and we believe that he must have poison or probably persuaded the mind of the governing council against the community and that is why we believe the whole process was done in secrecy and not transparent.

“All Ife community want is for independent body to review the process. Once the process is found to be very fair and transparent, we will be happy. But the community will not be happy if the process is not transparent, not because it affects its candidate but it can also affect other candidates if they have not done the process properly to meet the international standard. 

“We have received most of the report that happened within that particular period. The scoring, the secrecy in individual’s allocation of marks, the marks not even known to the entire council members until after the announcement of the collation of the results. That is not the proper way to do things. Every member of the Council must be aware of who scored what. It shouldn’t be a secret.

“We strongly believe that the process is not transparent. We have evidence to that effect. The statement from the school management is just to defend themselves. This is not because it affects our own candidate, it can affect any other candidate as well. 

“Anything that is not done in the proper way, people should cry out. That is the begining of corruption and fraud. We are not saying that professor Adedoyin must be the VC at all cost, but what we are calling for is to allow the visitor do the review of the process and if they are satisfied with it, we will congratulate whoever emerges.

“We don’t have anything against Prof. Bamire, all we want is a just and transparent process”

Appointment Followed Due Process – OAU Mgt.

But the OAU management insisted that the processes that brought Bamire into place were fair and transparent. 

In a press release signed by the Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, the management reaffirmed that due processes were followed and merit was the basis for the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor

The management stated that during the selection process of the VC, no member of the Board had foreknowledge of each candidate’s score before the final collation at the end of the interaction, maintaining that the university was aware of the false presentation of the alphabetical arrangement of the applicants.

The University management alleged that the indigenes carried out the protest in their bid to forcefully install their kinsman as the next Vice Chancellor.

Akeredolu Condemns Protest

Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, who is an alumnus of OAU, has condemned the protest on Bamire’s appointment, describing it as nauseating and assault on intellectuals.

The protest, according to Akeredolu, is sickening and a display of an attitude alien to academia that must be completely condemned.

Akeredolu, in a press statement he personally signed on Monday said: “ The latest news on the invasion of the campus by some Ife indigenes and traditionalists, allegedly, to protest the failure by the authorities to appoint ‘an Ife indigene’, showcases the extent to which the system has sunk, almost irretrievably.

“This latest assault on the intellectual by elements who, ordinarily, should not have any business with that ambience is unsettling.

“The silence of the intellectuals in that University suggests complicity and connivance.”

Ooni Assures Continuous Good Relationship with OAU

The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has assured that the good relationship between the town and OAU would remain as strong as ever, saying “OAU is Ife, Ife is OAU and we shall continue to cohabit in peace for progress.”

Oba Adeyeye who cautioned indigenes and residents of the town who are aggrieved by the process that led to the selection of Bamire not to take laws into their hands, assured workers and students of the institution of their safety, as well as their property.

Ooni, in a statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Otunba Moses Olafare, on Wednesday said protests are legitimate rights and ways to pass messages of dissatisfaction across to the relevant authorities but must not jeopardize peace and security in the society.

While suing for calm and directing all law-abiding citizens to go about their normal businesses without fear, Ooni noted that he had rallied major stakeholders to address the issue at hand.

He said: “Protest is everybody’s right to make his or her unheard voice to be heard. This is always adopted by professional and academic stakeholders/trade unions, ASUU, NASU, NBA, NANS, religious bodies, political parties and even concerned individuals but it must be done peacefully.

“Over the years, the good people of Ife have been a superb host to the University, even as they enrol their children and equally join qualified hands (regardless of background) to work in the citadel of learning.

“The Ife community is proud to have partnered and still partnering the institution through the House of Oduduwa on viable programmes and projects capable of projecting Ile-Ife to the outside world as an ancient city ready for progress and development.”

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