High expectations as Salami becomes second UNIBEN female vice chancellor
As Prof Lillian Imuetinyan Salami assumed office as the 10th substantive vice-chancellor of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Edo State, expectations are already high, especially given the stiff competition that trailed her emergence.
Furthermore, the new vice-chancellor would also be under pressure to surpass the performance of her predecessor and first female VC of the institution, Prof. Grace Alele Williams, who was a professor of Mathematics.
The impression among many past and current students as well as university staff is that Prof. Alele-Williams left glowing legacies in the history of the institution, which earned her a lot of plaudits during her tenure.
It is, therefore, the thinking among staff and students that as Prof. Salami takes over from the outgoing vice-chancellor, Prof. Faraday Orumwense, she is expected to hit the ground running in search of excellence, especially in the areas of infrastructure uplift, academic quality, and security.
Not only that, Salami would be challenged by the salient issue that trailed her emergence from the 29 other candidates that participated in the selection process.
One of the issues is the thinking that she was chosen based on her roots and closeness to certain well-placed political leaders from Edo State.
Although Prof. Salami parades an impressive resume, her emergence as the new vice-chancellor has elicited reaction among aspirants who felt short-changed due to speculations that she has become the third person of Benin extraction in quick succession to occupy the exalted office.
Before her emergence as vice-chancellor, other Benin indigenes, including, Prof. Osayuki Oshodin and Prof. Orumwense, who handed over the baton to her, had occupied the office.
The Guardian gathered that among the 29 candidates that indicated interest in the top job were academics from foreign institutions, including the United States and South Africa.
Among the applicants that scrambled for the exalted position is a former vice-chancellor of Benson Idahosa University (BIU) MacDonald Idu, a Professor of Phytomedicine at the department of plant biology and biotechnology, University of Benin.
Other top contenders were Prof. George Eriyamremu, a former deputy vice-chancellor, and head of department of biochemistry, Prof. Michael Ibadin, Professor of Pediatrics and immediate past chief medical director (CMD), University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) as well as the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Edo State, Prof Ernest Afekhide Omoti.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that the hot contenders for the top job were Prof. Idu, Salami, and Eriyamremu.
Unlike Prof. Salami, who hails from Edo State, the duo of Idu and Eremayanru are from Delta State and it was this disparity in states of origin that informed speculations that Salami was favoured on account of gender and state of origin.
But contrary to those sentiments, faculty staff and lecturers in the faculty of education, where she has been a Professor of home economics and nutrition education, said Salami is another woman of substance to watch out for as she takes over the mantle of leadership.
Like the first female vice-chancellor before her, all eyes would be on Prof. Salami if she would deploy similar extraordinary courage, uncommon expertise, integrity, principle and commitment to duty that defined Alele-Williams tenure as VC
The new vice-chancellor is taking charge of the university at a time when there is increasing concern about the quality of products, especially the issue of sex-for-grades and cultism among staff and students.
Some students, who pleaded anonymity, said they expected the new vice-chancellor to address the vexed issue of hostel facilities, social amenities, electricity and water supply on campus.