In Nigeria, the statutes or establishment Acts of all universities provide for the principal officers and bodies of the university, including the office of Vice Chancellor. For the University of Lagos, this provision is to be found in Section 3(1)(c) of the University of Lagos Act. The functions of the Vice Chancellor are stated in Section 9 of the University Act which read as follows:
Functions of the Vice-Chancellor
(1) The Vice-Chancellor shall, in relation to the University, take precedence before all other members of the University except the Chancellor and, subject to section 6 of this Act; except the Pro-Chancellor and any other person for the time being acting as chairman of the Council. (2) Subject to sections 7 and 8 of this Act and the provisions of this Act relating to the Visitor, the Vice-Chancellor shall to the exclusion of any other person or authority have the general function, in addition to any other functions conferred on him by this Act or otherwise, of directing the activities of the University, and shall be the Chief Executive and Academic Officer of the University and Ex-Officio Chairman of the Senate.
The provisions of older Universities’ legislations are similar. A careful reading of the relevant sections of all the Universities legislations in Nigeria shows that the functions of a Vice-Chancellor primarily are:
To take precedence before all members of the university, except the Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor
To have the general function of directing the activities of the University
To be the Chief Executive and Academic Officer of the University
To be Ex-Officio Chairman of the Senate
The Vice Chancellor is therefore expected to know something about all aspects of the University. Literally, he must be a supper man. Vice Chancellorship is a demanding role that is highly visible internally and externally. He is expected to provide leadership academically, administratively and socially to all the officers of the University. He is to lead development activities including fund raising and the reinforcement of the University reputation and scope. He is to achieve the University’s objective in a timely, inclusive and purposeful way. He should exercise leadership to secure a sustainable financial base sufficient to allow the delivery of the University’s mission, aims and objectives.
In view of all the foregoing demands, a Vice Chancellor should have strong academic credibility, intellectual curiosity, sympathy for the values and culture of the University including the students and their concerns. A Vice Chancellor should not confuse public office with sources of making personal wealth. Indeed a corrupt Vice Chancellor does not make a good university leader.
A Vice Chancellor who is aware of these enormous functions and responsibilities ought to derive enough joy and satisfaction from the exalted position as Vice Chancellor and should be so proud of the power and responsibility bequeathed to him by virtue of his position as a Vice Chancellor so much so that he should be able to consider his status higher than other positions not only in the university campus, but also in the immediate community and the country at large and should derive enough satisfaction from the job to enable him shun other political appointments. As a successful legal practitioner, I coveted and considered my status in my profession higher than that of any political office holder so much so that I confidently and proudly refused offers of appointment as Federal Minister four times. Unfortunately, as would be shown later, the manner of appointment of Vice Chancellors reduces them to mere civil servants which ipso facto reduces the pride associated with the high position and makes them feel inferior and consequently ineffective in performance.