Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has described the protests embarked upon by some Ile Ife indigenes over the announcement of a non-native as the next Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University as “crazy”.
Soyinka, a former lecturer at OAU, spoke at a lecture titled, ‘The Politics of Black Intellection and Creativity, at the University of Pennsylvania, the United States’, which was the first of the newly-inaugurated Distinguished Lecture series in African Studies.
Reacting to a question by Professor Wale Adebanwi, Presidential Penn Compact Professor of Africana Studies, Department of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Soyinka said he’s “shocked” over the incessant kidnappings, ritual killings and violence that have become the order of the day in Nigeria.
Asked to express his reaction to the agitations that the next Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University must be an indigene of its host city, Soyinka faulted the protesters.
He said, “An Ife person wrote me and say, look at these people disgracing us. I told him to go there and disgrace them. You are an Ife person. You should be in the front line.
“The Ife people should say those people don’t belong to us, we don’t know where they came from. And they should be dealt with ruthlessly. Why should there be an Ife VC anywhere? I just don’t understand what they put in the water these days. It is crazy.”
Since the announcement of Prof Adebayo Bamire as the 12th substantive VC of OAU, some Ife indigenes commenced protest.
The protesters argued that an Ife indigene should have been appointed.
Prof Rufus Adedoyin, who hails from Ile-Ife, came ninth in the screening, which saw 16 candidates shortlisted for interaction for the post of VC by the Joint Council and Senate Selection Board.
Determined to ensure the installation of an Ile-Ife indigene as the next OAU VC, some indigenes entered the varsity’s campus with charms and other fetish objects on Monday.
They also closed the varsity’s two major gates, thereby preventing staff, students, and other stakeholders from either coming into or leaving the University.
The protests by the Ife indigenes started last Thursday, March 17, 2022, shortly after the university’s Governing Council, led by its Chairman, Owelle Oscar Udoji, announced a professor of Agricultural Economics, Bamire, as the 12th substantive VC.
The protesters, who initially blocked the main gate of the university on the first day and threatened staff and students to stay away from campus, allegedly became violent the second day as they beat up workers, particularly the staff of the Security Unit, and vandalised their office at the Main Gate.
Some of the security workers were reportedly taken to the OAU’s Health Centre for treatment.
On Monday, March 21, 2022, the protest took another dimension as the protesting indigenes blocked the two major gates as early as 6: 00 am, entering the campus with charms, and other fetish items.
Videos that surfaced online showed the protesters assembled at the motion ground of the university’s Senate Building, dressed in all-white spiritual traditional attire, chanting incantations and performing rituals.
Another video also showed some masqueraders dropping a sacrifice at the OAU VC’s car park.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, in a statement on Wednesday, cautioned the protesting indigenes and residents of the town to be lawful.
He, however, noted that protests were legitimate rights and a way to pass messages of dissatisfaction across to relevant authorities.
“At the end of the interaction, the sealed envelopes were opened one after the other and announced to all the members. The score sheets were thereafter passed around for sighting. Then, the scores of the candidates were collated with Microsoft Excel and ranked from the highest to the lowest.
“The candidate with the highest score was eventually announced as the Vice-Chancellor by the Governing Council.
“For the avoidance of doubt, no member of the Board had foreknowledge of each candidate’s score before the final collation at the end of the interaction.
“The University hereby affirms that due processes were followed and merit was the basis for the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor,” OAU said in a statement by its spokesperson, Abiodun Olarewaju, on Monday.