By Faith Igbudu
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the Benue State University, Professor Zacharys Anger Gundu, has disclosed that the processes that led to the emergence of Professor Tor Iorapuu as the Vice Chancellor of the Benue State University were devoid of external influence, favouritism or any political consideration.
In an interview with The Voice, Professor Gundu challenged those alluding that the Vice Chancellor was picked because he was favoured by the powers that be to prove their allegation with evidence.
Professor Tor Iorapuu was selected from a pool of twenty six contestants for the position of the vice chancellor in a rigorous interview process that lasted for more than a week.
However, one of the contestants for the Vice Chancellorship who pulled out of the contest alleged that the rigorous interview process for the selection of the Vice Chancellor was tailored to favour a predetermined candidate.
But responding to the allegation in an interview with The Voice, Professor Gundu said the new Vice Chancellor of the Benue State University was chosen purely on merit because he outperformed the other contestants in all the processes.
Giving a detailed account on how the new Vice Chancellor emerged, Professor Gundu said no other University in Nigeria had ever undergone the transparent process that the Benue State University adopted in choosing its Vice Chancellor.
“The tenure of the incumbent VC expires on the 2nd of November, 2020, and the BSU law requires that advert be made three months before the expiry date. At the beginning of August, we placed adverts in three Nigerian newspapers: The Voice, Vanguard, and The Nation. We also appointed a search team made up of two members of senate, two from the congregation and two from the council which had the sole mandate to search out other persons of worth from other universities who will apply in addition to the ones responding to the adverts.
“The submission of applications was online and this is the first time any Nigerian university will accept applications for the post of a VC online and for us at the council, we think that is an achievement”. By the time we finished collating applications, which was closed on the 15 of September, 2020, we had 27 professors who had applied.
“The next stage was to shortlist, because 27 people were too many to interview for one top position, so council decided that all the candidates will simultaneously go through a Computer Based Test (CBT). We called it a Criteria Cognitive Aptitude of the candidates. The test was designed to test them in the area of finance, administration, management and the higher education landscape in Nigeria, Africa and globally. We thought that anyone coming in as VC of this institution should have some aptitude in the aforementioned areas”, he said.
Professor Gundu explained that one of the contestants opted out of the process at this point because according to the contestant, he could not subject himself to any examination since he was a professor of several years.
“At this point, one of the candidates, Prof Eugene Aliegba opted out of the examination saying he had been a professor for years and cannot go through any exam, claiming that it will be clumsy for him to take same exam with his former students who had also applied for the job. This brought the number of applicants to 26 he noted.
According to Professor Gundu, Benue State University remains a trailblazer as far as the selection of a vice chancellor of a Nigerian University is concerned.
“I will like you to know that the template used in the selection of the vice chancellor has never been used in a Nigerian university. For us as council, we are proud that BSU is a trailblazer in that area. The results of the test were used alongside other criteria to shortlist the candidates”, he said.
Giving an insight into how the process went, the chairman of council said some of the candidates did not exhibit seriousness expected of them as contestants for the vice chancellorship position.
“There were some persons who passed the test but failed to be responsive in the application requirements. We had cases of statement of result for PhD degree that was acquired over 10 years, we had some candidates who presented a statement of result for their GCE qualification, and we had issues of discrepancies with age and qualification and so on.
“For a school that desires to be a flagship university, council felt some candidates did not really understand the magnitude of the job. It is not true that 20 professors failed the exams but 19 as one had withdrawn he explained
He said even after the candidates had passed, they were still subjected to more tests to ensure that only the best candidate was selected for the top post.
“The names of the shortlisted persons were sent to the selection board made up of three people from council and two people from Senate, where it was agreed that the seven shortlisted candidates take another CBT known as a psychometric test. This test was to give a psychological assessment of the candidates emotional quotient, intelligence and management and was also handled by our consultants just like the previous.
“This process was not to score the candidates but give an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate as they were all potential VCs, so we know how to help and support such a person. We then did a ‘world cafe interview’ this entails you have different tables for questions and in our case we had four tables, where each candidate will passed through to answer five structured questions per table.
“The questions were built around finance and sustainability, research, training and curriculum, students and students affairs, and staff, welfare and industrial relations and were scored 25%”.
“The next stage was presentation and case study where candidates were kept in a controlled environment and given a question to prepare 15 slides each for onward presentation. This was scored over 15%. The idea was to ensure that the next VC was computer proficient.
“Candidates were then broken into two groups and given a case study analysis to present in slides, this was also scored 15% and the process was to check out for team spirit and group dynamics.
“After which followed a face to face interview of ten structured questions for each candidate and scored 15%.
“The last stage was a random interview focusing on the claims of interest made in their application letters which was scored 15%.
“At the end of the process, we had the highest score of 65% followed by 61% and a distant third of 55%, the others had to be discharged as the BSU law stipulates that council transmit only three names to the visitor for the post.
“We presented the three names and also pleaded with the governor, Samuel Ortom who is the visitor to the university to make the appointment based on merit. That is how Prof Iorapuu who had scored the highest of 65% was approved and appointed the Vice Chancellor, BSU others that made the list of top three are Prof Edward Omudu and Prof Vitalis Tarhule he said
The 6th vice chancellor of the BSU is a professor of Theatre Arts from the University of Jos. The first vice chancellor of the university was Prof. Charles Vajime followed by Prof. David Ker, Prof. Akase Sorkaa, Prof. Charity Angya, and the outgoing, Prof. Msugh Kembe,” he added.
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