SPECIAL REPORT: Appointing Vice Chancellors for Nigerian Oldest Universities: Questions of Federal Character and Gender Imbalance

SPECIAL REPORT: Appointing Vice Chancellors for Nigerian Oldest Universities: Questions of Federal Character and Gender Imbalance

For a number of years, the University of Ibadan, the University of Nigeria, the University of Lagos, the University of Benin, the University of Calabar, the Ahmadu Bello University, Obafemi Awolowo and University of Maiduguri have been in existence. From various sources, these universities have placed and still placing Nigeria on the global academic community in terms of producing quality graduates and researches.

Like other universities in the world, these universities have experienced and still passing through a lot of difficulties in their quest of realising mission and vision of 21 century universities, expected to have dynamic resources and ensure equal opportunity for everyone irrespective of socioeconomic and gender status. In spite of this, information indicates that appointment of vice chancellors for these universities and the newly established universities has been in favour of male academics more than female academics. Apart from the gender imbalance, available information also shows that vice chancellors have been appointed mostly from the state and region where the Universities are located.

On different fora, leaders of some of the Universities established after the 9 oldest Universities have debunked allegation of total disregard for the Federal Character Commission Principles in the appointment and promotion of staff. To some Public Affairs Analysts, Nigerian universities will remain local as long as regionalization and gender imbalance continue to characterised appointment of vice chancellors and employment.

In the past things were different. For instance, the first vice-chancellor of UNILAG was Prof. Eni Njoku (1962-65). He was non-Yoruba. There was also Prof. B. Kwaku Adadevoh (1978-80), non-Yoruba. There was Prof. Dike, an Igbo, who was UI’s VC. Then, the first indigenous ABU administrator, Prof. Audu, was a northern Christian. Prof. Akinkugbe, from Ondo State, was ABU’s VC (1978-1979).”

Our Data and Measures

To put the discourse into a new perspective, our analyst examined demographics of the past and current [excluding those in acting capacity] vice chancellors of the oldest University in Nigeria. Emphasis was on their gender and state of origins. Out of the 9 Universities, comprehensive data were only found for 6 Universities. Efforts to get the details of the past Vice Chancellors ta the University of Maiduguri, the University of Benin and the University of Calabar were not successful throughout our two months of mining the needed data.

These Universities do not have the list of the past VCs like other Universities. Attempt to get data for the state of origins of Professors Oleka K. Udeala, Chimere Ikoku and Herbert C. Kodlilinye, past VCs of the University of Nigeria, on the Internet was equally not successful because their profiles do not include the data. Out 6 past Vice Chancellors found for the University of Maiduguri, Professor Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi, Professor J. D Amin and Professor Mohammad Nur Alkali hail from Gombe, Adamawa and Yobe respectively. We did not find data that establish state of origin of Professors Aliyu Shugaba, Mala Daura and Abubakar Mustapha. Professor Zana Akpagu hails from Cross River State and found as one of the past Vice Chancellors of the University of Calabar. We did not discover data that indicate state of origin of Professor James Epoke, another past Vice Chancellor of the University.

For the 9 Universities, our analyst found that 85 professors have led the University [some are still leading the Universities]. Looking at the number from a gender perspective, all the professors were/are male [see Exhibit 1]. Professors Grace Alele-Williams and Lilian Salami as past and current Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin are only substantiative female VCs.

Emerging Insights

Available data reveal that the University of Ibadan, the University of Lagos and the Ahmadu Bello University have had 12 substantive Vice Chancellors. With 11, 10, 9 and 8 Vice Chancellors, the Obafemi Awolowo University, the University of Ilorin, the University of Nigeria and the University of Benin respectively, followed the University of Ibadan, the University of Lagos and the Ahmadu Bello University. Available data also establish that the University of Maiduguri and the University of Calabar have had 6 and 2 Vice Chancellors respectively.

Over the years of appointing Vice Chancellors of the University of Ibadan, Professors from Osun state have been appointed more than others in the South-West region, where the University is located. Professors from Ogun state are trailing those from the state. This insight is not quite different in Obafemi Awolowo University. Professors from Oyo and Osun states tied in terms of occupying the position in the last few years. At Ahmadu Bello University, Professors from Kaduna state have held the position more than others in the North-West region. Professors from the South-West region, especially Ogun and Ekiti states, have been appointed more as Vice Chancellors of the University of Lagos than those from other states in the region. In a twist of regionalization of the appointment of the Vice Chancellors, Professors for the position at the University of Ilorin have largely been from Kwara state, a state in the North-Central region and Ogun state, a state from the South-West region. Anambra and Enugu states born Professors have been Vice Chancellors of the University of Nigeria than other Professors from South-East region, where the institution is situated.  The University of Benin has been led by Professors from Edo and Delta states more than other states in the South-South region.

Exhibit 1: Percent of Vice-Chancellors by Gender

Source: Universities’ Websites, 2020; Others, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 2: Past Vice Chancellors of University of Ibadan by State

Source: University of Ibadan’s Website, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 3: Past Vice Chancellors of Obafemi Awolowo University by State

Source: Obafemi Awolowo University’s Website, 2020; Others, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 4: Past Vice Chancellors of Ahmadu Bello University by State

Source: Ahmadu Bello University’s Website, 2020; Others, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 5: Past Vice Chancellors of University of Lagos by State

Source: University of Lagos’ Website, 2020; Others, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 6: Past Vice Chancellors of University of Ilorin by State

Source: University of Ilorin’s Website, 2020; Others, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 7: Past Vice Chancellors of University of Nigeria by State

Source: University of Nigeria’s Website, 2020; Others, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Exhibit 8: Past Vice Chancellors of University of Benin by State

Source: University of Benin’s Website, 2020; Others, 2020; Infoprations Analysis, 2020

Implications and What Needs to Be Addressed

Based on the emerging insights, our analyst notes that the need to question the efficacy of the Federal Character Commission Principles and gender policy is now. It is obvious that the principles and policy remain rhetorical statements and document after many years of formulation and initiation. The difficulty in having female Vice Chancellors in the Nigerian universities has been attributed to inadequate numbers of qualified women, patriarchy, domestic and family demands, socio-cultural beliefs that leadership is the prerogative of men, lack of encouragement and support, lack of leadership skills and poor mentorship, among other factors.

In our earlier analysis, it has been noted that the wording of vacancy advertisement for the Vice Chancellor position is giving male professors edge over female professors. This needs to be addressed in subsequent advertisements. Masculine-words should be downplayed while calling for submission of applications. Appointment of the new Vice Chancellors mostly from the ranks of formers deputy vice chancellors and deans is also putting female professors at disadvantage because only a minority of female professors occupy the positions [DVCs and Deans]. From the present insights, it is difficult to accept that Nigeria is fostering national unity, cohesion and promote a sense of belonging among all Nigerians working in the Universities.

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