A University don has called on Nigerians in the country to rise above all the parochial, sectional and retrogressive forces that have worked against its unity and nationhood and embrace the promotion of excellence in unlocking its potentials so as to take its rightful place in the comity of nations.
This was the submission of Prof. Femi Otubanjo, a former council member, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) and a visiting Professor of Politics and International Relations, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti while delivering the lecture titled, “Alumni as University Administrators: The Advantages and Challenges”, at the 22nd Annual Convention and 21st Annual Lecture Series of the Alumni Association of FUNAAB.
Prof. Otubanjo, who noted that with the number of universities in Nigeria, their statutory roles, and the ever-increasing student enrolments in these institutions, the country does not need to look elsewhere for solutions to its search for a socially-cohesive nation. He, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the employment process in the University system particularly with the selection of Vice-Chancellors.
According to him, the selection process at times is beclouded by primordial and parochial forces, thereby posing the danger of an irreversible lowering of standards as no state university is likely to have a Vice-Chancellor from outside.
The University don noted further that in such situation, students and staff will be largely indigenes, staff will be rural, myopic/bogged down by micro-ethnic struggles, promote dangerous incestual relationship (local in breeding) and universities would be theatres of transferred ethnic animosities and wars, rather than insulated citadels of academic innovations/excellence.
The guest lecturer described the university as a “School of Universal Learning”, which, according to him, involves the assemblage of strangers from all walks of life into one community of thinkers engaging in intellectual pursuits.
He noted that “Our universities must be models of national complexity and unity, adding that “We will be able to tell the whole nation that we are serious, as an intellectual hub, when a Hausa man or Yoruba man is elected as Vice-Chancellor in a Federal University in the North and a Hausa man in a Federal University in the West based purely on merit”.
Based on the above, he posited that this will not happen if we continue to narrow the road to national integration; and fail to adopt a new focus, elevate the vision and the dysfunctional primordialism, parochialism and now Alumnisation.
Speaking on having alumni as Vice-Chancellors, Prof. Otubanjo concluded that by having an alumnus at the helm of affairs, there is most likely to be a greater passion for the development of the institution; more commitment to fund-raising; more concerned about standards, and rating and having an edge in mobilising fellow alumni to be active participants in the developmental process.
The lecture was crowned with a prophetic declaration by Prof. Otubanjo that “That sooner or later an alumnus will become the Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB”. “A time will come when only alumni will become Vice-Chancellors. That time has already come, happened in (University of) Ibadan, (University of) Lagos, (University of Nigeria) Nsukka and (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira) ABU”, he concluded.