Ajayi Crowther Varsity boss speaks on corruption, insecurity, and how government can tackle xenophobia

Why did you refuse the second term offer?
I was appointed for a non-renewable five-year term. You don’t change laws because a man has done well in your own opinion. No man is indispensable.
I have a history of having been the chairman of ASUU in the days of Professor Attahiru Jega. I was a leading voice in ASUU and we were the ones that fought against VCs serving two terms. In the past, it used to be two terms of four years each. But the second term usually brought acrimony, fighting, problem everywhere, people use Juju, character assassination because they are desperate and come to think of it, people who use two terms are usually not accountable to the electorate because they do not need their votes anymore.
They usually mess up during that period. I don’t believe that there is anything any man wants to do that cannot be done in five years. No man is indispensable! Having fought in ASUU that VCs should spend five years in a single term, it would be a violation of principles.
In the five years you spent as vice chancellor, did you miss teaching?
I have never departed from teaching. As the VC, I still supervise PhD students free of charge. During my four years here, I have graduated not less than 14 PhD students from Lagos State University (LASU). Sometimes, six in one year, and even while I am here, I still teach. I teach 200 level, 300 level, and 400 level, undergraduate students. I teach Masters and PhD students right at this university. I am still in class.
I understand that when you came, the school started getting more professors
They did not have more than one full-time professor when I came. All others were contract staff. We had only one regular professor who served full time here but now to the glory of God, we have grown. We have professors that are processed and pronounced here would be over 12 now and the inaugural lecture we never had before, I started it. I started postgraduate studies school and postgraduate programmes, now we have PhD on most of our programmes.
I started the faculties of Engineering, Education and Environmental. I started an MBA, I started secondary school and I have built 35 houses and tarred the roads and gave the place a good look. We processed accreditation and all our programmes are accredited. Accreditation for over 30 programmes cost us over N500 million.
I did not take a kobo from anybody, internally generated and we have never failed to pay our staff members their salaries for once.
The staff list here is about 600 and the salary wage bill is over 70 million every month. I don’t get any single funding for this university from outside not from the owners of this university, not from the government.
The only person who has contributed to this university is the wife of former Oyo State governor Abiola Ajimobi. She donated the ICT centre with computers named after her as she did for other NGOs where she is a patroness.
No government has done anything for this school. Another ex-governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala promised to tar the road and shortly after that, his tenure ended. We pay a tax of over 500 million to the government every month but there is nothing they have done for us. We feel it.
There are some laws in the school that parent classify as extreme, why so?
Students of this university need to be properly dressed. That is our law if you go to the University of Ilorin; it is more or less a federal and even Islamised University. Right from the gate of UNILORIN, you would see their dress code there. The security would not allow you to pass through the gate unless you are properly dressed. You can’t come here and be dressed shabbily. You have to be properly dressed.
Some people call the school a glorified secondary school, your reaction?
We are happy to be so-called glorified secondary school. I just cited the example of the UNILORIN it is a first-class university in this country. They maintain their dress code, even when students go there to write JAMB, those that were properly dressed were brought down from the vehicle, and those that wore skimpy clothes were given wrappers to wrap themselves. It is an ethical standard.
This idea of liberty is what has bred cultism, irresponsible behaviour, harassment and the likes. There is nowhere you are that there is no sanity. Even as we are a Christian University and we want people to come and enjoy liberty and to behave the way they like, turn this place to a haven of prostitution, shabby dressing then we are damaging the system.
There is no education without character formation. That is why Nigeria is where we are today. It would take a lot of time to get out of this mess because university breeds irresponsible people who were never disciplined in the school and they get into government, those in government, they are never accountable to anybody.
That is why they are destroying the whole system. We raise this culture of impunity. It is most unfortunate because people lack discipline and that is why we are where we are today. When we set laws, we are trying to redeem the evils of society.
And the complaint from lecturers?
I am 36 years as a lecturer and professor, does anyone need to come and talk to me about how university looks like?  If you go abroad to study, won’t you behave decently? They don’t allow that kind of nonsense abroad.
Over there, you must be in class as a lecturer, you dare not miss an hour of lecture, you would be in trouble. But here liberty allows lecturers to do anyhow. You can fail anybody or pass anybody
What are your plans on medicine and law faculties?
Medicine is not a profitable venture for universities because it is very restricted it is like law. The Law School regulates the number we can take.
Right now, we can’t take more than 50 students. But what benefit is it for me when I just admit 50 students when I can admit 200 or more.
We have the best Faculty of Law facility in this country. We are over-regulated. In terms of financial reward, the law is not giving any because we cannot be more than 50.  The same with medicine so if I want to start a College of Medicine, we would have to do it to serve humanity not because we want to make any money.
Is there any plan to have a roundtable with the Law School to increase the number of intakes?
We have their procedures; they would come and visit us to look at the staff and facilities. They have been here twice and they should have increased it but when they ought to increase it they said we over admitted so they did not give us that year but now we have had meetings and we hope they increase it.
You are a bishop and recently there has been a kick out for men of God
Every born again child of God is the same in the sight of God. We would not say there is a different set of passion or rule governing the pastors even though they are men of God.
Security has broken down all we have to do is to pray that God would help us overcome it.
Haven’t we been praying?
You have been praying but you know that faith without works won’t go far. It is the duty of those who are assigned by law to help the people do their job. But we are in a situation where security is compromised because the whole political system is being compromised.
We have a government that is pursuing an agenda of domination over sectors of government to the people. As long as we have that and we have religious fanaticism, where some people try to expand their religion to the detriment of other people, they would look the other way if those perpetrators of evil are from their side. Then there is joblessness everywhere and there is proliferation of ammunition. Even the police are not watching and they are compromising.
You said government is intentionally looking away on security…
Maybe they are incompetent. He hasn’t proved himself to be a general. He has done something to Boko Haram to contain them to a point but it is not enough. He has done the little he can but we don’t have a charismatic diplomatic leadership in the country. He is too old to be able to do what he wants to do.
The Xenophobia didn’t start today; at last, the government would find a way to make peace with South Africa without sanction.

About the author