By Adesina Wahab
The emergency Congress of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the University of Lagos, UNILAG Branch and the meeting of the Governing Council of the institution earlier scheduled for Wednesday have been postponed, averting a possible clash between the two groups.
The Council fixed its meeting for the Council Chamber, while ASUU fixed its own for the foyer of the same Council Chamber and the union had earlier said the Chairman of the Council, Dr Wale Babalakin, SAN, is not welcomed on campus.
ASUU, in a statement in the early hours of Wednesday, signed by the Chairman, Dr Dele Ashiru, said the decision was taken as the Council decided late Tuesday to also shelve its meeting.
“This is to inform our members that in view of the postponement of the proposed Council meeting, the Congress of our great Union initially scheduled to hold on the 15th of July, 2020 at the Foyer of the Council Chamber is hereby postponed.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Resolution of Congress on the Vote of no Confidence and the declaration of Persona non Grata on the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Dr Wale Babalakin subsists.
The Union appreciates the support and solidarity of our members in the struggle against arbitrariness, tyranny and unbridled dictatorship,” the release read.
Earlier in the week, the Registrar, who is also the Secretary of the Council, Mr Oladejo Azeez, had issued a statement, decrying the plans of ASUU to disrupt the meeting.
“The attention of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Dr Bolanle Olawale Babalakin, SAN has been drawn to the notice of Congress by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos branch, scheduled for Wednesday, 15th of July, 2020 at the Foyer of the Council Chambers.
“I have the instruction of the Pro-chancellor and Chairman of Council to inform members of the University Community and the general public as follows:
“It is important to note that Council had earlier issued a notice for the Council Meeting commencing on the same 15th of July 2020. This Council Meeting apart from being statutory was also requisitioned by the Vice-Chancellor of the University.
“The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS recently requisitioned the meeting to the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin on May 11, 2020, and June 26, 2020, respectively.
“The time and topic by ASUU for their Congress clearly indicate its plan to disrupt the Council Meeting, especially since it has issued several threats to prevent the Pro-Chancellor from coming to the University.
This action is violently against the provision of Section 41, subsection 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) ( Fourth Alteration), which guarantees freedom of movement of Nigerians within Nigeria.
“ASUU as a trade union under the laws of Nigeria is also expected to know that Section 4 of the Trade Union Act states that “No person shall subject any other person to any form of constraint or restriction in the course of persuasion.”
“Obviously, ASUU, University of Lagos Chapter has shown clearly that it is a group that does not adhere to the Constitution of Nigeria or the Trade Union law which it is a part of.
“As a responsible Council, we will not engage ASUU, University of Lagos branch on issues that are beyond its duties, powers and responsibilities under the laws of Nigeria.
“We, therefore, advise all law-abiding Nigerians to discountenance the action of the leadership of ASUU, University of Lagos branch and go about their legitimate duties as they will be protected under the laws of the federation.”
Recall that the union and Babalakin have been at loggerheads over a number of issues that eventually led to the postponement of this year’s convocation of the institution at the last minute.
The VC had addressed the press and announced details of events slated for the ceremony and some had been held before the National Universities Commission, NUC, acting on the directive of the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the convocation be put on hold.
The minister said he gave the order following a petition by Babalakin that the VC did not intimate the Council of activities lined up for the convocation ceremony and did not secure the permission of the Council.