Spread the love
After all the hoopla about her appointment, qualification or under-qualification as the ninth substantive vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University, (LASU) as well as some sexists’ feeble attempt to criminalize her biology as incapable of being appointed into office, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello was eventually driven into office on Monday, September 20, 2021. From viral video and media reports of her triumphal entry into the Ojoo campus of the university, it was a celebratory, carnival-like entry, just like the biblical Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. Ushered in a long convoy of members of staff, students, friends, fiends, well-wishers, fawners, apparent and not-apparent favour-seekers and the like, the convoy was received by the university’s acting Vice-Chancellor, Oyedamola Oke.
Colourful banners adorned the aisle of the university’s entrance with a parade of singing, drumming and dancing reminiscent of a typical political campaign ground. Military policemen in red berets, as well as security operatives acting as her shield, cosseted her right, left and center. Thereafter, the Professor of Physiology, formerly of the LASU College of Medicine in Ikeja, among other lofty appointments, entered her office. A circus of “binding” “prophesying” and “casting out” began and a band of women holding hands engaged in a prolonged spell of prayers.
Now, let’s get this right: From her bio-data on parade, not minding the accident of her conjugal association, Prof Olatunji-Bello deserves that office and highly too. However, her flowery triumphal entry into the university advertizes a cancerous malady that is fast becoming a paterfamilias of the Nigerian academia. The academia is fast losing its sanity as a turf of ideas because it allows fripperies and manifestations and influences of political offices to snake into its confine.
Recall the embarrassing forceful conflation of politics with academy that the Federal University of Technology (FUT) Owerri is currently embroiled in. This was borne out of FUTO’s quest to grovel before political power by mis-awarding Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication, an undeserved professorship of the school. The duo of politics and academy don’t jell nor bond; they are like petrol and water. While the academia is a sober, sedate, mental environment that is hostile to the loud rascality of politics, politics and its manifestations flourish by it. To herald Professor Olatunji-Bello into LASU under such loud noise signposts a negative regress that our academic institutions have taken. Some years ago, a university vice chancellor appointed a Chief of Staff and was heralded wherever he went by a loud siren and a convoy of vehicles. Academics who became VCs like Profs Kenneth Dike and Oladele Ajose must have wept in their graves.
The rascality of political offices may be gaining notoriety in our body polity and advertising itself as the way of life for all sectors but we must not only never allow that incubus to worm itself into the academy, we must equally realize that the university, being home of incubation of ideas, has no need for such fawning absurdity. Fiends who pose as friends, religious merchants, contractors and other leeches must have set their proboscis in wait to take a suck of LASU’s blood, using the triumphal entry drama as their dress rehearsal. While wishing Prof Olatunji-Bello huge success in her superintendence over the academic empire called LASU, could she be mindful of all these?