There was jubilation in the Obafemi Awolowo University’s campus today as the Management of institution announced the appointment of the highly cerebral Professor Anthony Elujoba as the Acting Vice Chancellor for the University.
Professor Elujoba, an Ife-born professor of pharmacognosy, was in the early part of Thursday elected acting Vice Chancellor of the 54-year old institution. He defeated renowned Professor Adebayo Lamikanra, also a pharmacist, by 300 to 5 votes. He will act for a period of 6 months, after a substantive VC might have been appointed.
The emergence of Elujoba was celebrated all over the campus as the workers were seen dancing and jubilating at the choice of Professor Elujoba. The elated workers led him in a convoy of cars, while others were trekking, to Senate car park which the workers had rechristened Freedom Park.
Professor Anthony Adebolu Elujoba is a Royal Society of UK Research Fellow looking into Nigerian Medicinal plants, a Public Analyst (FDA) and recipient of numerous professional awards.
Since the establishment of OAU, it is on record that no Ile-Ife Son or Daughter ever got fortunate to become the vice chancellor in the University until this time.
He has served as acting head of Dept of Pharmacognosis, Dean Faculty of Pharmacy, Chairman Committee of Deans, Chairman Faculty PG Committee/ board of studies, Research and selection committee, member Faculty review panel, Senate Rep on OAU Teaching Hospital Management board, Member Management board of natural history museum and PG board and Dean’s rep Faculty of Technology.
Professor Elujoba is an external examiner at numerous university examinations while his involvement in research into medicinal plants has brought him into close association with persons living with HIV/AIDS who fondly refer to him as the ‘village chemist’.
It is note-worthy that the appointment of Professor Anthony Elujoba as acting vice-chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife is entirely without intrigues.
If they had told the 63-year old Elujoba last week that he was going to be acting Vice-chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, this week, he would have dismissed it as a prank, knowing fully well that he has two more years to spend in active service.
Professor Elujoba was quoted to have told friends, few days ago, that: “if this issue of who who becomes VC is not quickly resolved, I will travel abroad…” He had given up the hope of becoming VC and preparing for life after service when fortune smiled on me.
He has never contested to become the Obafemi Awolowo University’s helmsman but as God would have it, he was voted. His announcement was greeted with wide jubilation by staffs and students who had gathered at the newly rechristened Freedom Park, formerly Senate Building.
Academic and economic activities have been paralysed in OAU for over a month following alleged imposition of immediate past deputy vice-chancellor (academics), Prof Ayobami Salami as VC by out-gone VC, Prof Bamitale Omole.
In the build up to the appointment of sacked VC, members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) had suspected foul play during the selection process and they knew if it was allowed to go, unchallenged, it was going to be a coronation and not a contest.
They took their case to court. A shortlist was made and Salami was ‘anointed’. Opposition became intense because two of the top three shortlisted candidates, in the final interview, were not from Ife – only Salami came from Ife.
The three others who were earlier shortlisted from OAU absented themselves, automatically disqualifying themselves. To them, it was obvious the board had decided on Salami.
A reliable source said: “One of the shortlisted candidates, who was medically down as he was battling stroke and was not even physically present at the interview, was made to be interviewed over the phone. Salami later got it as he defeated the other two, who were from outside OAU.
“He was presented to the visitor and be given a ‘clean bill of health’ after going through all the processes: academic, health, SSS, etc. A day to his inauguration, billed for 24th June, 2016, workers’ unions declared ‘total paralysis’ on campus, preventing vehicular movement. The institution was shut down, via a release issued by the institution’s registrar, Dotun Awoyemi.
After it was unresolved for many weeks, the minister of education who had accepted Salami as new VC, dissolved the governing council because the process was said to have been flawed, after cancelling the process that led to the emergence of Salami.
Only last week, the Federal Government ordered that an acting helmsman be appointed in order for academic activities to resume on campus. Earlier this morning, the Senate of the University, in compliance with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, converged and elected Prof Elujoba.
It was not devoid of the trappings of a normal political setting. It almost turned rowdy as the institution’s outgoing deputy VC (administration) Prof Omolayo Ajayi was said to have queried the need for an acting VC, saying that as DVC in charge of administration, he was supposed to be automatically drafted to fill the position of acting VC.
He was said to have been shouted down by a thunderous yell. It was put into voting – those who wanted the status quo against those who stood by the directive of the Federal Government. The latter had their way.
Shortly, Professors Lamikanra and Elujoba were shortlisted and voting was done. Elujoba, who had the backing of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, defeated his colleague.
The kingship and reigns of Alayeluwa Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is unarguably opening new frontier of opportunities in the land. The reign of Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is undoubtedly an uncommon blessing the people of Ile-Ife as they have finally broken the jinx.
The institution’s spokesperson, Abiodun Olanrewaju confirmed that the emergence of Elujoba was celebrated. According to him, “The workers who were jubilating at the choice of Professor Elujoba led him in a convoy of cars, while others were trekking, to Senate car park which the workers had rechristened Freedom Park.”
In a statement he issued, he explained: “After more than two hours of heated debate, presided over by the outgoing Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Professor Omolayo Ajayi, the over two hundred Professors who came for the meeting, eventually elected Professor Elujoba with 201 votes over his compatriot, Professor Adebayon Lamikanra, who polled less than 10 votes.”
The new acting Vice Chancellor was an accomplished academic who had served as the Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy; Chairman, Committee of Deans and Chairman, Ceremonials Committee of the University for several years.