EducationGuest ColumnistInside Nigeria

At Last, Prof Idowu Olayinka Speaks on UI Succession Crisis: The Horror Professional Petition Writers Gave me as VC

The immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, on Sunday, broke his silence over how those he termed as “professional petition writers” launched a bitter war against him from the moment he was named VC, in 2015, and persisted till the very end of his achievements-laden tenure on November 30, 2020.
The 12th University of Ibadan VC who  expressed gratitude to God for the emergence of his successor, Professor Kayode Adebowale, former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) of the premier university, poured out his mind in an article he released to the media on Sunday.
Here is the article, verbatim:
Succession Crisis in the Academy: And the Vice-Chancellor Wept
We thank God that a new substantive Vice-Chancellor has finally been named for the University of Ibadan.
My deep worry, however while the euphoria continues,  is that we pretend too much at the University  of Ibadan. We sweep serious problems under the carpet, hoping that the matter will just go away. Unfortunately the reality is that once you do not address the root cause, the same unsettled controversial issue is likely to rear its ugly head the next time around.
I have been around for the past 33 years as a member of the Faculty and one has been an active and keen participant; to that extent one has some institutional memory on the subject.
In the 2010 VC’s race petition against the perceived leading candidate started a few minutes after the election of the two Representatives of Senate on the Joint Council/Senate Selection Board on 30th August 2010. A new VC emerged on 2nd September 2010. The wranglings continued unabated for the next three months so much so that there was an advertorial in the Nigerian Tribune of 30th November 2010, a day before the new VC was due to resume by a faceless group calling for annulment of the process and the appointment of an Acting Vice-Chancellor. I was a member of the Council so I have some idea of what transpired.
The situation escalated in 2015. I was named VC-designate on 9th September. I travelled to the US later that month. Problems started from the professional petition writers about the time I was returning to Nigeria on 2nd October. I spent one day at the DSS office at Alalubosa Government Reservation Area of Ibadan, the officers asking me all manner of humiliating questions. The amiable officers were just doing their job. Our professional petition writers caused me all the undeserved embarrassment. The sore losers even went to court to stop me from resuming. I escaped their trap by the whiskers as their court papers arrived in UI a few hours after I had resumed as the 12th Vice-Chancellor on 1st December 2015. The period from early October till end of November 2015 was one of the most traumatic of my life. Yet, I had scored an overall average of 90.1% while the runners up scored 74% by the assessment of the Joint Council and Senate Selection Board for the Appointment of a Vice-Chancellor. That wide gap did not dissuade desperate people with(out) conscience from calling for annulment of the entire exercise.
In the heat of the 2020 crisis of succession for the Vice-Chancellorship of the University of Ibadan I still remember one (in)famous day in November of that year when I was on my knees weeping profusely before a high-ranking government official in Abuja to save my career. I have never suffered any comparable level of indignity and humiliation in my life before then. This was happening 32 years after I earned a Ph.D from the University  of Birmingham (a Russel Group University) in the United Kingdom and 21 years after becoming a full Professor at the University of Ibadan!
The opposition and their sponsors were hell bent on getting me out of office by all means possible. It was that same month that four members of the Council walked out of a Council meeting, a great affront to the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council. Till today no one has been issued a query for bringing the university into disrepute!
Indeed when by acts of omission or commission the Federal Government had to dissolve the Governing Council one of the members of that Council was quoted as saying that his major achievement was to have contributed to the impasse which prevented the emergence of a substantive Vice-Chancellor.  So much for his commitment to the progress of what some of us consider a national heritage.
We have just come out of the 17 month protracted VC’s succession crisis when  a well-funded mob under the influence of hard drugs attacked the front runner. Their object was to intimidate, maim or even completely eliminate him.  Practising politicians from the Postmodern School of Violence cannot do worse than this.
In the immortal words of the first Nigerian Professor of Mathematics, Prof Adegoke Olubunnmo, in his 1985 Valedictory Lecture at the University  of Ibadan *What does it all add up to?*
Someday I will have the strength to put together my memoirs. One is never interested in opening old wounds but experience teaches man that man does not learn from experience.
With the way some of our colleagues trade in rumours and lies, and unable to accept defeat graciously you wonder what they teach our students.
All is well that ends well.
It is expected that as believers we forgive all that must have trespassed against us but we should  draw lessons from the unwarranted experience that nearly brought down a University that is supposed to be a citadel of learning, seeking truth at all times because of the ambition of a few individuals.
Idowu Olayinka
Department of Geology
University of Ibadan and
Visiting Professor of Applied Geophysics
Federal University of Technology
Sunday, 17th October 2021



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