The Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University, Prof. John Oladapo Obafunwa has expressed optimism and determination to eradicate what he termed the many years of rot in the university, which ranks the first amongst state universities and 11th amongst all the universities in Nigeria (National Universities Commission 2013 ranking).
Before now, many a visitor familiar with the university will attest to the fact that it was plagued by rot in every area. LASU in the last 27 years was a far-cry from what a citadel of learning should be, even though its Faculty of Law was rated the best in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa but LASU-Law was de-accredited in 2009 by the NUC over poor standards in academic and infrastructural facilities.
It is against this backdrop that Obafunwa alongside some principal officers of the university conducted journalists round some of the facilities to reveal the ongoing academic and infrastructural facelift in the school. This, he noted was not without the support of the state government led by Governor Babatunde Fashola.
Donkey years of rot
Prior to November 1, 2011, when Obafunwa was ratified the 7th Vice-Chancellor by government and the Governing Council, LASU had the problem of inadequate lecture halls which led to a situation where students had to stand to receive lectures. The science laboratories were not spared as kerosene stoves became bunsen burners.
The constant unrest, maiming and killings orchestrated by cultist groups in the school made LASU a safe haven for cultists. The reckless disruption of the institution’s academic calendar by local chapters of staff unions like the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) was a devastating tide that needed to be stemmed.
And Obafunwa came
Assuming the coveted Vice- Chancellorship position, having been two-time Provost of the university’s College of Medicine (LASUCOM), Ikeja, Obafunwa confessed that the new mandate was no tea party. According to him, his fears were basically hinged upon the deep rots that have bedeviled the regular and external systems of the university for so many years.
These cut across the immeasurable backlogs of results and certificates of students which even extended to 1999/2000 academic session in both systems; the deep corruption in the university that had encouraged embezzlement, misappropriation and misapplication of funds meant to improve standards of the university; the high number of ghost workers especially in the external system and poor quality of teaching staff.
On assumption of office, Obafunwa lamented that he had to contend with the backlog of salary arrears owed the teaching and non-teaching staff, which might spur them to down their tools at any moment, thereby disrupting the university’s academic calendar.
Deeply bothered by these, the Forensic Pathologist said his transformation agenda was hinged upon basic laudable infrastructural and academic blueprints, whilst canvassing the support of government, staff and students in achieving them all.
In less than two years, LASU is on the verge of priding itself as an institution which has set the pace of getting its academic potentials right.
During the tour of facilities, it was confirmed to Vanguard Learning that the current administration has gotten it right in major areas such as e-course registration for students; e-transact for students and staff; e-results/academic profiles for students; quick release of results; provision of state-of-the-art teaching facilities across the departments of the school; re-accreditation of de-accredited courses; putting in place laudable infrastructural projects and in all, a stable academic calendar for two sessions running.
The administration launched a “novelty” e-registration system for students to register their semester courses without hitches. Also, through this giant move, the era where students had to form long queues to collect registration pins has been eradicated. We launched an e-payment model for tuition fees which received encomiums from students and staff as it has been declared efficient and easy.
“Lecturers are now more responsible with the marking of examination scripts, double-checking of marked scripts, uploading and corrections, unlike in the past when malfeasance was the order of the day. Presently, the current result-uploading system known as DPU doesn’t allow the alteration of grades after the about two weeks of grace given for marking and uploading of results after every semester examination.
We are glad that students can now regularly check their up-to-date academic profiles electronically through the DPU novelty. Sixteen of the 17 major courses which the university was earlier denied accreditation by NUC have been re-accredited.
“From November 2011 till date, for the first time in many years, LASU has gone through five academic semesters, produced two graduating sets, without disruption by warring staff unions or other internal crises. It’s also on record that this administration completed the university’s new auditorium which was made ready for use at the 17th convocation ceremonies of the university