It’s been showers of blazing criticism and anger from key concerned stakeholders in Kwara State following the recent appointment of Professor Mohammed Mustapha Akanbi as Vice Chancellor of the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, by the state governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
The appointment of Prof Akanbi, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was announced on April 1, 2020 by Hajia Sa’adatu Modibbo, the state’s Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, who stated that it was with immediate effect following the acceptance of the recommendation of the Governing Council of the Kwara State University by Governor AbdulRazaq.
Reacting to the appointment in an article posted on his blog, and shared on his Facebook wall, Prof Farooq Kperogi, Associate Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media at Kennesaw State University, United States, and popular newspaper columnist at Nigerian Tribune, said in appointing Prof Akanbi as Vice Chancellor at the expense of Professor Sakah Saidu Mahmud, the governor passed over a better qualified candidate who he said topped the list of three nominees for the position that was submitted to him by the Governing Council of KWASU.
“I frankly don’t care whom the governor chooses to appoint as his political aides, but passing over the most qualified candidate for the job of Vice Chancellor for a barely qualified intellectual parvenu because of where they come from is just outright condemnable. That’s NOT how to govern a heterogeneous polity — and certainly not how to run a university. I hope the governor reverses himself and apologizes,” Prof Kperogi stated.
According to him, Akanbi’s most crucial qualification for the job is his being from Ilorin just like the governor.
Advancing a number of reasons for this conclusion, Prof. Kperogi argued that Prof Mahmud, who was KWASU’s acting Vice Chancellor as well as its substantive Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), “was adjudged by the search committee to be the best of all the candidates who applied for the position of Vice Chancellor. Akanbi was third.”
Kperogi further stated: “It’s easy to see why Mahmud came out on top. He had been head of the KWASU’s Social Sciences and Global Studies Department; Academic Coordinator to the VC; Provost of the College of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences; and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Admin), which is next in hierarchy to the VC. In other words, he has been everything that anyone could possibly be at the university, except the position of substantive VC.
“Before he was recruited to KWASU in 2009 by Professor AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, the founding VC of the school, he taught at many US – and Japanese – universities for decades. He resigned as head of the political science department at Transylvania University in the state of Kentucky to join KWASU.
“He studied at the University of Denver for his MA and PhD (after earning a BSc in Government, which is now called Political Science, from ABU in 1976.) He speaks French and Japanese, is the author of two critically acclaimed books and dozens of well-cited journal articles, and is the recipient of prestigious fellowships including the (American) National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship.
“His doctoral dissertation was a comparative study of early Meiji Japan and Nigeria, which required him to live in Japan for an extended period and to learn the Japanese language well enough to read and understand archival materials written in it. So he has a broad, global vision for KWASU that is consistent with the founding VC’s idea for the university.
“Why did Gov. AbdulRazaq pass over this well-published, experienced, and cosmopolitan scholar who was part of the founding professors of KWASU for Akanbi, a 1993 OAU law graduate, from the University of Ilorin who has never taught at KWASU and who has little administrative experience under his belt?
“Simple: Mahmud is from Baruten, a marginal, non-Yoruba-speaking part of Kwara that is constitutive of what is called “Kwara North” in the state’s political vocabulary because of the cultural similarities between that part of the state and Nigeria’s far north.
Akanbi, who came third, is not only from Ilorin but is also the son of one of Ilorin’s prominent families. That’s the chief reason he was appointed VC. It’s inter-generational perpetuation of privilege with a dash of ethnic bigotry.
“Elders of “Kwara North,” drawn from the non-Yoruba-speaking local governments of the state – Baruten, Kaiama, Patigi, and Edu – condemned Akanbi’s appointment in a public statement published in Premium Times yesterday, saying the appointment is “quite nauseating and very insensitive because it goes extremely against the principles of equity, justice and fairness in a symbiotic and heterogeneous political entity like our beloved Kwara State.”
“The statement said the appointment follows an emerging pattern. Even though more than 80 percent of voters from “Kwara North” voted for AbdulRazaq in the governorship election, which eclipsed the percentages he got from other parts of the state, the statement claimed, his appointments have been invidiously exclusionary and Ilorin-centric.”
Efforts by National Record to reach either the governor’s office or the authorities of the state university failed. An enquiry email forwarded to governor’s office was not responded to as at press time.