[OPINION] UNILORIN: REMEMBERING A VICE-CHANCELLOR WHOSE INDISCRETION IS A SET BACK TO THE UNIVERSITY BY SHEU BASHIR

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Yoruba is a very rich language with formulative but prophetic predictions; such are usually coded in proverbs and idioms. They never come without real life experience to prove their efficacies. I want to use two of these idiomatic expressions to open this piece. (1) “Ipa n pa araré oloun pa aja lahi mo pe ti aja baku, ohuna ko ni simo”. —. (2) “Ori okere koko lawo, bawi fun omo eni agbo”.

These expressions can best describe what the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin has done to himself and the University as a citadel. If the alarm was not sounded to him, may be we would have pardoned his administrative neophytism at a time but because almost everyone warned him against the decision to take the University back to the dark days of needless ASUU strike and he wouldn’t listen, because, he thought, doing so would mean a defeat for an imaginary enemies who ensured the local ASUU enjoys “self rule”. Very ignorant and self destructive assumption.

Time To Reckon: Now that the don’t has been done, and the done is telling on the fortunates of the University, shouldn’t we use this opportunity to remind ourselves of the bitter consequences of one of the most tactless and unintelligent administrative action any administrator could ever take against his own mandate. And of course, to teach ourselves a lesson that being on the seat of power doesn’t make you the most intelligent person and that listening to the advice of your subordinates doesn’t make you a weak leader.

It’s amazingly shocking that someone living in a glass house will decide to turn the house into a gladiatorial arena for an end he will forever regret.

Let me repeat myself, the Vice-Chancellor of the University will end up being the worst in the history of that University, he would not only be the one with zero or lesser achievements, he will also be the first and probably the only one who would deliberately destroyed (and has destroyed) the reputation, legacy, norms, traditions and values the University it is reputably known for. The last three years of his administration have been used to demarket the citadel than marketing it, everything the University is known for is now eroding like a town under tsunamic attack.

I once said that we should all “beware of a man who does not care about the consequences of his own action”. I also said that “no man is a danger to others than a man who is a danger to himself. This is not a gloating time and I am not happy doing this but the truth must be told, so that, atleast, some people who thought my criticism of the VC then was needless and a personal attack, especially those who thought the VC decision to take the University back to the dark old days was a good thing.

Let me emphasise, I have no personal grudges against the VC and I am not fighting an ethnic battle, but anyone who took part in the struggle to save the University from the jaws of unrepentant agitators, those who were hell-bent in bringing the University to it’s kneels at all cost, using needless incessant ASUU strikes as a tool to achieve that will never be happy the way the VC is throwing away the gains of the past into the lagoon. I ask, who wants the legacy of his hard-work to be destroyed?

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Without prejudice to members of the University Community, the ASUU, SSANU, NASU and all the respected individuals who make up the University, it is now clear that the Vice-Chancellor ignorantly dug a grave for University of Ilorin when he decided to rejoin the ASUU National for no compulsive reason. Now, the University is paying for that thoughtless decision and the pain is just starting – I pray it abates.

Let it be said that one of the selling points of the University, apart from it’s reputation for academic excellence is the strike-free sessions they have enjoyed for newly two decades. Now, the University has lost that glory. There is no difference between Unilorin and others in that regard. Isn’t that painful?

You can only imagine the retrogressive havoc the indiscretions of the VC has caused that helpless citadel.

As I understand it, the VC has been gnashing his teeth in regret, lamenting that he wished he had not rejoined the national ASUU. I learnt a subtle attempt was made to go back on his ill-action but of course, it was too late.

Pathetically, both lecturers and students are paying heavily for the disjointed action of one individual who chose sentiment ahead of tactics and strategy, one man who thought the University is an extension of his private property and that he can take any action without considering the futuristic effects on other stakeholders. Nothing can be more regrettable than having a kindergarten administrator on the seat usually reserved for grounded, humane, conscionable, smart, intelligent, strategic, humble, cerebral and astute administrators.

I must say how sad, helpless and frustrated I am listening to the agony some of these lecturers are going through. Yesterday, I was listening to a discussion between a brother, a Professor and a lecturer in the University with his friends, lamenting very painfully how the non-payment of their salaries is having a bad toll on them, it wasn’t a thing you want to hear, I was so sad and emotional. As a leader that the VC is, you should do everything that protect the interests of your subject not the ones that will jeopardize them, the action of the VC caused avoidable hardship to his own subjects and it’s unimaginably unfortunate.

Sadly, some of these lecturers have no other means of survival than their lecturing earnings, they don’t do any other business, they don’t collect honorarium from anywhere and they are not political appointees receiving allowances anywhere. It was just a miscalculated arithmetics giving negative answer.

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It was during that discuss that I learnt it is three years already this month into the administration of the VC, I couldn’t believe how fast the time is running. I am sure the entire University community cannot wait to see the remaining two years fizzle out like puff of smoke as quickly as the last three years did. It sounds funny but the truth is, Unilorin is merely on sabbatical from it’s usual culture of academic and administrative rebranding, this current administration is nothing close to what the University is known for. The University will need another ten years of a better administration to correct the errors of the current administration, an aggressive rebranding for that matter.

Let’s talk about IPPIS. Generally speaking, since this IPPIS debacle, things are even more complicated, opinions are sharply divided and interests more individually defined than generally marshalled. Some people may not understand the extent of the pains of the University lecturers unless you are one of them; they were mere caught in the web of academic politics, denying them months of salaries and putting their families in untoward hardship. It’s regrettably needless.

The politics around IPPIS is not even the one understood by many lecturers, there are alot not known to an ordinary lecturer who just wants to do their job, earn their legitimate pay and grow in peace. It is a complex game of tangle only stealthily understood by their leadership and of course some of the University administrators who are hidden beneficiaries of the subtleties.

Things aren’t funny anymore and the situation is not laughing at all. While hoping that the issues will be resolved soonest, one can only hope that the issues around the payment platform is sorted out and normalcy is returned.

There are more to be said than we can say here and now but time is ageless. All I can say now is for all the parties to come to a common ground, atleast for the sake of the suffering lecturers who haven’t been paid their salaries in months, it couldn’t have been more tough for them.

For the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, who decided to play it the sentimental way, I want to ask you – what is your gain now? What have you achieved from this? What benefits has your action brought to the University? Is the University better than before? How do you now sleep that your singular action is bringing this hardship to your subjects?

Your action is indeed a setback to the University, tomorrow will remember this indiscretion with regrets and your name will resonate in the minds of all those who are currently going through this hardship. Time is ageless.

GodIsHere


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8 thoughts on “[OPINION] UNILORIN: REMEMBERING A VICE-CHANCELLOR WHOSE INDISCRETION IS A SET BACK TO THE UNIVERSITY BY SHEU BASHIR

  1. Unilorin ASUU’s reintegration with national body: Posterity will vindicate Prof. Abdulkareem
    The attention of the management of the University of Ilorin has been drawn to a write-up by one Sheu Bashir, wherein he delivered a damaging verdict on our Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, for what the hack writer called “the indiscretion” of the Vice-Chancellor “to take the University back to the dark days of needless ASUU strike” on account of the role he played in reconciling the University’s Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Union’s national body.

    Going through the poorly written and contextually disjointed write-up, it is not hard to see that the writer is terribly uninformed about a matter he is delving into. We, therefore, feel that the jejune writer needs some tutoring to wean him and his likes from palpable ignorance!

    It is a well-known fact that the University of Ilorin has a cherished tradition of unbroken academic calendar since the past 19 years on account of its famed immunity from incessant strikes by academic staff of other Nigerian public universities. We find it difficult to trade this custom for anything. But a quagmire presented itself whereby the University has become a pariah of sorts in the committee of Universities in the country. Many of our lecturers have been continuously harassed on other campuses in Nigeria, chased out or sometimes faced dangers up to the point that they have to be guarded and guided before they can escape being physically abused on those campuses. It also got to a point that Unilorin students were also being denied opportunities in other universities because they came from the University of Ilorin. It is to be noted that the long exclusion of Unilorin ASUU Chapter from the activities of the national body was due to the suspension order placed on the Chapter by the national Executive Committee and not as a result of any voluntary withdrawal by the local ASUU.

    During the suspension and subsequent persecution of Unilorin ASUU and its members, the local Chapter made more than 15 fruitless peace overtures with the National ASUU during their meetings in Akure, Ogbomosho, Ibadan, Ilorin and several other places. In all the negotiations, neither the University management nor the Vice-Chancellor was involved in any way or at any point. These moves were only brought to the notice of the Vice-Chancellor six months after assuming office. And when the National Executive Committee members of ASUU came to woo the Vice-Chancellor to help facilitate the reconciliatory moves, Prof. Abdulkareem sought and obtained the support/backing of the University Senate and Council before making any move.

    It was in the midst of all these that a Professor in the University raised a pathetic point during a Senate meeting when he expressed frustration about how he and his colleagues were being treated on other University campuses, saying that he was tired of being harassed all over the other campuses for no offence of his other than coming from the University of Ilorin. He and several others who spoke in the same vein during the meeting then pleaded that something should be done to put a stop to the unnecessary assaults faced by Unilorin staff.

    So, as a pacifist and somebody who desires the best for the University he dearly loves, the Vice-Chancellor had no choice other than step in to allow peace, if that would stop the pariah status being steadily foisted on the University. But before the July 3rd reintegration of Unilorin ASUU with the national body, the University management told both sides, and they gleefully agreed, that the University would not trade the continuity it had enjoyed for 19 years for any reconciliation. But as events turned out, it is obvious that the University management was conned, big time!

    Even though the good intention of the Vice-Chancellor in allowing peace and facilitating the reconciliation between Unilorin ASUU and its national body and the consequent reintegration was bastardised and abused by some hawkish elements, Prof. Abdulkareem has no cause whatsoever to regret his pacifistic predilection. It is on record that all the gentlemanly agreements he had with both sides of ASUU and fervent assurances to him that the University of Ilorin would be granted a strike moratorium following the reconciliation were observed in the breach by elements who tactically hid their malicious intents while entering into the agreement with the Vice-Chancellor.

    Despite all these, the University believes that in the fullness of time, posterity will vindicate our amiable Vice-Chancellor.

    It is easy to see through the veil that this Sheu fellow and his group of malicious antagonists are merely driven by personal hatred for Prof. Abdulkareem and this has so blindfolded them to the extent of misconstruing the Vice-Chancellor’s selfless and purpose driven efforts at taking the University of Ilorin to greater heights. This goal he has passionately committed himself since the past three years when he mounted the saddle. And the Almighty Allah has been so kindly directing his steps ever since.

    Surely, envy cannot deny honey of its sweetness (Egan kope ki oyin ma dun).

    Signed
    Kunle Akogun
    Director of Corporate Affairs,
    University of Ilorin.

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