Vice-Chancellors should stay away from politics

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Pioneering Vice Chancellor of First Technical University of Ibadan, Prof. Ayobami Salami, who completed his term on May 8, 2022, in this interview recounts GRACE EDEMA that there is no knowledge that cannot be marketed

Please share your experience over the past five years as Vice-Chancellor

Well, it was a wonderful experience. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy. There was a time when the economy or the state of the country was not good; that it was even difficult to pay salaries; I am thinking of the recession era. And starting a new thing in those days was actually hard work, but by the grace of God we were able to weather the storm and today we can hold our heads up high.

Do you fear that in the future, due to political differences in the country, the partners will deviate from the mission and vision of the institution? What are those things in place that will prevent such an event?

I think that fear has been there from the beginning. I want to thank those whom God has placed in the management of the affairs of Oyo State government, both the APC (All Progressives Congress) and the PDP (People’s Democratic Party). Both regimes decided to preserve this university and we should pay tribute to them – and it should be a model for other states in Nigeria to follow. The current administration should have simply abandoned the idea of ​​this university. The current Governor of Oyo State is a man who has prioritized development policy over the policy of our politicians. We are not there yet but we are making progress, it is in progress and we have decided to get to the goal.

However, the goal is to ensure that this university is able to generate enough funds to support itself. In other words, a sustainable program is underway.

What about the cult and drug addiction in most higher education institutions?

The university is a microcosm of what you have in society. Let me start with the issue of worship. Anything you have in a larger society, they’re meant to be replicated in college because these kids come from a variety of backgrounds. The university is like a reshaping center, where destinies are reshaped, with rules and regulations established. The school’s code of conduct is brought to the attention and awareness of students as soon as they intervene, there is zero tolerance for worship. And it is with the code of conduct that you are disciplined. We do not allow notable people to interfere with our disciplinary process. We wonder why Nigerians break traffic lights when they don’t when they arrive in the US and UK? We all tend to obey when we know sanctions will be applied, and we all tend not to obey if we know we will get through it. This is something that we have established here. Even if you are the president’s son, you will suffer the consequences once you cross the red line. And that helped to bring reason. And the law is strictly enforced.

What are these remarkable things that your students have done and what is this unique thing that sets them apart?

How and what kind of orientation and mindset you allow these students to have is very important. We have what is called entrepreneurial orientation. We say, you are welcome to college, but know this; we have millions of graduates looking for jobs outside. So if you come to this university just to get a degree, that means you are part of the crowd. Unemployment is real. A degree alone does not guarantee a job. It is even a handicap for people coming out of university. We want to prepare them to know the external reality. You need knowledge and skills. It’s not about what you can do anymore. We also let you know that you should build yourself. Even if you read the story, you can be enterprising with the story. You can write biographies for people celebrating birthdays, funerals, etc., as the person reading the story.

There’s no knowledge you can’t market, so we let you know from day one what you can market in your training. We let our students and teachers have this mindset, that while you teach them, let them know the application aspect of it. And we allow them to follow professional training at the end of each semester. There are two weeks of vocational training. When the students graduate, they enroll in the NYSC and start arranging professional training for them during that year. For me, I think it’s too late. It’s good that they do, but statistics show, and I think, that 51% of SMEs in Nigeria are run by graduates of tertiary institutions.

Meanwhile, they didn’t have that mindset when they were in higher institutions. So why do we have to wait for them to finish? Why not include it in their training? My students painted these two buildings. The paintings were made by the students of this university. The paint used at Ajoda was made by the students of this university. Even the fabrication of the burglary was done by the students of this higher education institution. And when we were doing our first graduation, the best student with a GPA of 4.91 was also the best student graduating in vocational training. He got the awards for both. So that tells you that we were able to cement the skills and knowledge. Some of them, while they’re here, are already running their businesses; they are already entrepreneurs.

Over the next five years, what would you like to see in place?

I expect to see a transformation. When the foundation is solid, it is easy to build on it. I expect to see rapid development and transformation and I can assure you, by the grace of God, that it will happen. About what drives us, is it to prove a point? It’s not. When I applied to become Vice-Chancellor, I always believed that whatever position you held was not about the position; it’s about you man. The opportunity God gives us is that we can leave a legacy behind. I am a man of vision; I am a passionate man. And I always believed that no one would remember themselves. This is what you have done for others. When you leave, how will you be remembered? So, I always wondered where I am and wherever I am, I believe I should leave a mark. When I look back, I feel very fulfilled. God was able to help me contribute, however small.

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On the VC selection process, it became filled with crisis. What is your advice for the government?

Ordinarily, the selection process should not be resentful. He must follow normal approved processes and procedures. But the Nigerian postman would like to enter the system. And the only solution is to go back and do it the right way. If we are not ready to do it the right way, we will continue to have the same kind of problem. University managers, government, stakeholders, it’s not just one sector. Almost all sectors are guilty.

Due process should be the heritage and culture of the university, but we just want to throw it to the wind. We should stick to due process. And we should stick to what’s been said in the books, in the laws. My advice to the government is that the government should not continue to interfere unduly in the affairs of the university. You’re not vice-chancellor just to make a name for yourself. You must have the vision and be able to make contributions. Try to stay away from politics as much as possible. If you’re a politician as a VC, you won’t be able to do what you should. You won’t be able to stick to the ethics of calling your office.

What are the challenges limiting the incorporation of biotechnology into the Nigerian system?

Now, with respect to biotechnology and the rest of this country, the development challenges that we have in this country today, we know about them, talking about the fundamentals of security, livelihoods. When we talk about biotechnology, it requires concerted efforts. The basic things we need we are unable to provide, even electricity. Let’s first talk about the power before biotechnology. Until we are able to put our hands together, we can continue to struggle with it.

What are these strategies that the ASUU could deploy to reduce strikes?

ASUU is one of the critical stakeholders in Nigerian tertiary institutions. All stakeholders must work together to save our education system from the quagmire. I know as a people we blame the ASUU, but is the government doing its part? If the government does not do its part, you do not expect the ASUU to be silent. It’s not just about ASUU, it’s about the government; these are other crucial actors in charge of the system. ,,

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All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without the prior express written permission of PUNCH.

Contact: [email protected]

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