Amid the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Kwara State, Prof. Wahab Egbewole appointed as the Vice Chancellor last Thursday. The announcement was made by the chairman of the governing board, Mallam Abidu Yasid.
Wahab, a professor of International Law and Jurisprudence and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was selected from 13 shortlisted candidates who applied for the post.
Egbewole is the 11th vice-chancellor of the institution and will assume office on 16 October, following the retirement of the incumbent, prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, who has been in the chair since 2017.
The institution was not involved in any Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) strike for two decades and was known for its stable calendar.
His ASUU members joined the strike on March 10, 2020 under the administration of AbdulKareem.
The UNILORIN ASUU branch chairman, Moyosore Ajao, said academic staff were branded traitors when they were not part of the union.
We cannot be part of a body and say we do not want to function with the body. The question everyone should be asking is how did ASUU get so bad? It is because we have an irresponsible government. And we have a finance minister who will not want to pay people, after working to earn a salary,” he said.
Since 2020, the institution has participated in every strike, including the ongoing one.
However, students emphasized their expectations from the new vice-chancellor. Most importantly, they want him to distance the school from the national ASUU, introduce more practical courses, build more lecture halls and address transport problems, among other things.
A 200-level Accounting Student, Itunuoluwa Blessing Adejumo, wants the new VC to prioritize students and staff welfare within and outside the institution. She said dormitories, classrooms and school park are not conducive to a normal lifestyle. She said that she had to withdraw from the school hostel because of the lack of cleanliness and order. Adejumo said she skipped lectures because of poor lecture halls of 700-800 capacity with close to 200 reasonably manageable chairs meant to accommodate 1,500 students.
“It is always said that if you can survive in UNILORIN, you can survive anywhere in the world. But should we as students go through that pain? I really think the welfare of students should be put first. After all, without students there is no UNILORIN,” she said.
Speaking on whether the new VC should intervene in the ongoing ASUU strike, she said: “The incoming VC must decide what is best for the school. We do not want our education to be stopped. So, let him pull us out of the strike or what benefit is the union to us?”
A 200 level student of Public Law, Oluwasegun Godswill, urged the new VC to tackle the case of transport for students living off campus as there were problems. According to him, getting buses to and fro is a very difficult task, therefore it is advisable to establish a system whereby many buses are put in place to ease the transport burden for students.
Godswill said if the new VC wants to withdraw from ASUU, he needs the support of the school governing board.
Gbenle Ayomide John, a 300 level student of Mathematics, wants the new VC to introduce more practical courses, have a good relationship with students, create a more conducive learning environment as the lecture theaters are always cluttered.
For Blessing Opeyemi, a 400 level student said she expects the new VC to outperform the former VC by making the classroom more conducive to the students and addressing transportation issues.
She also said she expects him to find a solution to the ASUU strike as the institution has not been on strike for decades.
“Much needs to be done in the case of enabling environment. For example, my department’s classrooms need to be renovated,” she said.
A 300 level student of History and International Studies, Afolagboye Fedora Boluwatife, said: “I think he (the new VC) should pull UNILORIN out of ASUU because the institution has not been part of the union for over two decades, so he has to work on that aspect as well.”
Busola Akinbade, a 200-level microbiology student, expects the new VC to support activities that can be useful for students such as sports and other extracurricular activities. She also expects him to help resolve the ASUU strike issue.
Usman Adebayo, a Mass Communication student urged the new VC to review the academic calendar, restore campus activity monitoring through CCTV.
He also wants him to bring back the modesty UNILORIN is known for through dress code and many other innovations to project the university to the international community.
In the same vein, a law student, Ematuwo Shukrah, urged the new VC to help the students find a solution to the ongoing strike and also the issue of transport. She said: “I expect him to help us find solutions to the ongoing strike. He must also examine the issue of transport tariff; the price is difficult for us.”
Lateef Wahab Alabi, an Arab Education student, said: “I wish he could be the best VC ever for the university. But the most important thing is to distance the university from the national ASUU for better academic calendar.”
Abdulsalam Kabirat Omowumi, an Islamic student said the new VC should find a better solution to the inadequate issue of bus on campus.
Taofik Waliu Opeyemi, the Students’ Union Government President, said: “As a student leader, my expectation is that he continues to lift the university to great heights. We have our challenges from the student community and we hope that with the new dispensation most of our problems will be solved. We want a VC who can pay attention to us. Meet our longings and expectations.”
Sofiah Hisbah, a History and International Studies student, said: “He should solve transport problems and create a safer environment for learning and research. He should also look at reducing the cost of convocation fees, the economy is not friendly to the majority of the masses.”
Another student, Joachim Segun, said, “He should consider the transportation and CBT coordination. After the strike, scarcity of buses and CBT problems should ease. Either he widens the park space or puts out more buses.
Iyiola Emmanuel, a student of Human Kinetics Education, said: “Standard of living in hostels, the quality and relevance of our curriculum in the modern world, lecturers and students’ welfare in general are areas he needs to work on. Off-campus students are always stranded when they come to campus due to transport issues and they are always robbed or harassed by the police.”
A 300 level student, Ibrahim Abdulfatai Alayaba, urged the VC to crack down on indecent dressing on campus.
“Given his tenure as a dean of the faculty of law, he is not new to the university governance system. Therefore, I believe that he will be able to improve on the good works of his predecessor, and continue to keep the school running smoothly. I also expect him not to neglect the issue of dress code as the previous administration was quite lax on that issue, and the issues of transport I believe he needs to improve,” he said.
Benson Julius Aziakpono, a 300-level student of Human Kinetics, said: “I wish he could bring about more innovation in conducting examinations on school premises as the process needs to improve, ranging from attendance during examinations to the way of behavior.Most times it is poorly organized.Most cases are CBT exams as the timing is mostly never accurate.
“The transport department also needs to be restructured as the drivers sometimes harass the students; so, I wish he can address it as the school activities fall under his jurisdiction.”
Adedimeji Quayyim Abdulazeez, the president of Unilorin Law Students, said: “We are really tired of the ASUU strike. We believe that a new change in administration will bring the university back to its pre-ASUU days.
“My biggest hope is that UNILORIN exits ASUU successfully and that we continue to have a stable calendar that we had before the tenure of this outgoing Vice Chancellor. I hope that the new change in the school will mean a change in ASUU struggle. I want the school to be back on track, I want to resume.”
A final year student, Ayobami Asare, said: “We are hoping for a better water system in school-owned hostels due to which students sometimes had to go to exam classes unclean during exams due to water issues.”
Oriyomi Covenant, a student of Medicine, said, “It is no news that the school was known to have one of the fastest academic calendars compared to other universities not because of their non-involvement in the ongoing ASUU strikes. We want the VC to withdraw the school from the ASUU battle that has almost destroyed the lives and future of the students they claim to be fighting for.
He said: “In my school, there are many outlets to generate income such as the school’s bakery, sachet and bottled water production, private residences, transport and the renting of spaces to many business owners, among others. Most public universities have primary and secondary schools. The income from these outlets can be used to meet some of the demands of ASUU independently by each school, instead of punishing the students and lecturers every year. So many business owners who paid for spaces are also affected by the strike. As the Chairman of the Vice-Chancellors’ Association, I hope that he presents these sources of income to the union that will save us all from the ditch that this struggle is sending us into.”
Ayodeji Elero, a student of Arts Education, urged the VC to involve every stakeholder in policy formulation.
“My expectation is that he should run an inclusive government. Where every major stakeholder will be carried along. If possible withdraw from ASUU so that the university can return to its days of academic stability,” he said.