Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has given a little insight into the ‘behind – the – scene – intrigues and politics’ that attended the processes leading to the emergence of Prof. Felix Kolawole Salako as the new Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB), Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Salako, a Professor of Soil Physics on Wednesday 1st nov.2017, officially assumed duty as the substantive sixth Vice-Chancellor of the 29 years old university with the transfer of an instrument of office to him at a ceremony witnessed by Obasanjo, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Dr. Aboki Zhawa, FUNAAB past Vice – Chancellors, including Prof. Julius Okogie, the Acting – Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ololade Eniokuomehin, among others.
Salako succeeded Professor Olusola Oyewole, whose five years tenure was riddled with an intractable crisis.
Obasanjo revealed that there were a lot of pressures on him to influence the University Governing Council in its decision regarding who became the next Vice-Chancellor but refused to bow to such pressures.
He said many things were said about the new Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB but stood his ground not to interfere with the process, save encouraging the Governing Council to do its job thoroughly.
The ex-President lauded the Council for doing the job of picking the new V-C professionally and hailed Salako for his brilliant performance during the screening process.
He urged him to strive towards excellence in his new position and at the same time, be vigilant lest he falls.
Obasanjo said: “I know there must have been pressure on you (Governing Council). Even me, an outsider, there was pressure on me. But, I did not succumb to pressure. I did not even succumb to pressure to tell you what people were telling me.
“When the Chairman of the Governing Council came to tell me of people being shortlisted for screening for the position of the VC, I told him to go do his job and he also let me know who (Salako) was selected based on his best performance.
“Salako also came to me after his selection and I told him to let’s discuss all that people were saying about you. I asked him you were part of the last administration that did not perform at the end.
“His answers sweet my bele. He didn’t deny. He said yes but he was also part of Professor Balogun administration which performed well at the end of his tenure. You see, in the military, we say there is no bad soldier but the bad officer that was why Salako did well during Balogun administration but not in another administration.
“And I am happy that you (Governing Council) did your job with almost diligence and the fear of God. Chairman, may God continue to guide and direct you.
“Prof Salako, the VC now, I congratulate you. I congratulate this university for having you at the helms of affairs at this point in time. God will do the job for you as God helped you through the Council to be appointed.
“Judging by what we have heard about you, judging by what the University Council has found out about you, your performance before them and your brilliant speech here this afternoon, there is no reason why you should not do well.
“But the Americans would say words are cheap. You must make sure that you constantly refer to what you have declared by yourself publicly that you will do so that you are keeping what you have put on the tablet that you will do.
“Secondly, I think it is the acting VC that said the past is gone and forgotten. That is a mistake. If anybody had told me that when I was leaving public office in 1979 that we would have an Abacha running the affairs of Nigeria, I would say the man is mental. But we had an Abacha.
“Never you take anything for granted. It can happen. It is your responsibility not to allow it to happen. Be a team player. I like the part you quoted in my book, “My Watch.” If you are succeeding people will want to pull you down.
“People will be envious of you. If you are not succeeding, nobody will think about you. So, if people are trying to pull you down, regard it also as a mark of success.
“In your speech, you asked us to stand up for a number of things including welfare. And I counted the number of things you asked us to stand up for, they are nine. On my own thinking and way of life, you left out the important tenth thing to stand up for, and that is the fear of God. May God grant you His fear to do what will please God and man.”
In his speech, the new Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB, Prof. Felix Kolawole Salako, pledged “not to hate or be vindictive” to those opposed to his emergence.
Salako said he would “block leakages and ensure efficient utilization of funds” in FUNAAB.
He reminded staff and students of the existing “rules and regulations” of the university, advising whoever that wants to exercise his freedom to do so within the ambit of such rules.
He also warned against late – coming, absenteeism and non – responsiveness to official requests, saying the rules would be applied in the event of violations.
“I have assured the Governing Council and all who listened to my earlier speeches since my emergence that I cannot afford to hate or be vindictive.
“I’m conscious of the fact that in spite of opposition and attack, God still appointed me through the University Governing Council. Therefore, I cannot fight God’s battle for him,” Salako said.
He also noted that he stands for ” professionalism, hard work, welfare, the reward for noble achievements,” among other things, vowing never to let down the guard of the university lest it is debased.
“I shall not let down the guard of the university for it be debased. This shall not happen. This cannot happen,” he said.
In his address, the Pro-chancellor, Dr Aboki Zhawa, noted that from the comments and remarks which trailed Salako’s emergence, he has “a lot of work to do.”
He asked him to be wary of friends whose wishes may not help his administration, but have tendencies to sink it.
Zhawa expressed the council’s unflinching support for the new helmsman’s success and urged members of the Senate to do same.
He also asked unions and aggrieved members of FUNAAB not to be clogged in the wheel of progress.
He advised them to explore peaceful means of dispute resolution and make court process a last resort.
“Don’t act funny because it won’t be funny,” Zhawa warned.