The immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Rahmon Bello, has said that VCs in Nigerian universities face more pressure than their counterparts abroad.
According to Bello, many of the things that Nigerian VCs has to dissipate energy on are guaranteed in higher institutions abroad.
He noted this while reflecting on his tenure as the UNILAG VC, against the backdrop of a reception being organised in his honour by the Yewaland Development Forum.
During an interview on Sunday, Bello explained that apart from the fact that a university administrator elsewhere would not be confronted with incessant industrial strike actions, he or she did not have to face hassles of poor infrastructure.
He said, “The way we run public universities in Nigeria creates a lot of stress because many things are lacking. Because of the dislocations in our socio-economic and even political structures, the VC has to handle everything without adequate resources. This makes it tough for him to oversee what’s going on. We have to develop a proper process to assist varsity administrators to achieve fundamental goals.
“The VC in the US or UK does not carry one-tenth of the pressure we face here. Provision of power, road and water is not part of his head ache because the system already takes care of such. But here, when there is any small thing, the VC must face it or there will be problem.”
Bello identified inadequate funding and facilities as the major problems confronting universities in Nigeria.
According to him, what the Federal Government principally does for the public institutions is pay salaries while it also appropriates some N7m as overheads monthly, (as in the case of UNILAG) which, he noted, was too low to address electricity demands alone.
He said, “A university is like a local government. It is a very big community and it takes a lot to run it.”
Urging the authorities, staff and students to ensure a harmonious relationship on campuses, Bello said that the havoc that strikes wreak on schools was beyond losses in academic calendars.
“Strikes paralyse many plans and affect programmes and projections for the institution. In most cases, the public cannot imagine the intensity of the setback industrial actions cause,” he said.
The professor of Chemical Engineering, however, expressed satisfaction at the fruits of the efforts of his administration at the varsity.
He said through money internally generated and intervention by philanthropists, he was able to achieve his vision to reposition the university holistically.
“At the beginning, I felt that we needed to step up the research, quality of staff, ICT proficiency and all. In all of these areas, I feel fulfilled that despite constraints of funding and facilities, we were able to meet our target.”
Bello welcomed the idea of the Yewaland Development Association hosting him in Lagos on February 3.
According to him, part of his plans is to deepen his involvement in the development of his immediate Yewa roots in Ogun, as well as in the state, country and world in general.
The YDA’s President, Alhaji Ayo Adeyemi, who was at the interview held in Belo’s office at UNILAG, described him as a model for other professionals to emulate.