…ASUU accuses Babalakin of discrediting public universities
By Adesina Wahab
The two claimants to the office of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Professors Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and Omololu Soyombo, were conspicuously missing at the Senate Building office of the Vice Chancellor of the institution on Monday.
When Vanguard checked at the Senate Building, security men from the Department of State Service, DSS, joined the university security personnel to screen and even prevent people from entering the building.
Those allowed to enter were limited to some floors on the building, as people were not allowed into the 11th-floor housing the office of the Vice Chancellor.
The Governing Council on Wednesday removed Ogundipe and appointed Soyombo as Acting VC, a development Ogundipe kicked against.
When our Vanguard correspondent called Soyombo on phone, he said he had resumed with effect from last Wednesday, following the letter of appointment given him by the Governing Council of the institution and that he could work from some other place apart from the Senate Building.
“Yes, I have resumed as the Acting Vice Chancellor and I am working as such,” he said.
When prodded to fix a time for our correspondent to meet him for an interview, Soyombo said he would soon meet with the press and relate officially with others too.
However, when Vanguard correspondent visited his office in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, he was said to be at a meeting.
After waiting for some time, a man, who identified himself as Odetola Philip, came out and described himself as the Personal Assistant to Soyombo, saying Soyombo would meet the press on Wednesday, adding that he was busy to see anybody at that moment.
For Ogundipe, it was gathered that he was out of town to make contact with some people who could help him out of his travails.
It was gathered that since Thursday that Ogundipe returned to Lagos from the Abuja meeting of the Council where his removal was announced, he had been going round to meet some influential people to state his case.
He reportedly met some prominent traditional rulers in the South-West and also went to meet a traditional ruler in the North-Central whose brother is an aide of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He has also gone to court to challenge his removal from office by the Council headed by Dr Wale Babalakin, SAN.
ASUU alleges plan to discredit university
Speaking in a chat on the development, the Chairman, UNILAG Branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Dr Dele Ashiru, accused Babalakin of leading a group of people who want to discredit public universities.
He added that their game plan was to eventually buy over the universities.
“We know the intention of the people behind all these shenanigans, they just want to create chaos. Make public universities lose attraction after being thoroughly discredited and then buy them over. This did not just start. In 2017, barely few months that Ogubdipe assumed office, the plot to remove him started.
“Do you know that Babalakin unilaterally issued queries to some principal officers of the institution? It was ASUU that rose up to say the matter must be taken to the Council not that he would act that way and he was forced to do so.
“It is unfortunate that he, Babalakin, who has enjoyed the privilege of the law is denying another citizen the right to defend himself.
“The ideal thing is that if you have any allegation against the Vice Chancellor, the Council will set up a Joint Investigative Committee with the Senate.
“The committee will have three members from the Council and two from the Senate. One of the members from Council will chair the committee.
“The VC will be served the notice of allegations against him and he will have the chance to respond,” he said.
The ASUU chairman added that the resolutions of the Senate and the staff unions in the university have been sent to the appropriate quarters.
Government’s stance on issue
As at press time, the Federal Government, the owner of the university, has not officially made its position public on matter, except for the statement by the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, on Wednesday that the Council could hire and fire.
However, it was learnt that the government would any moment confirm or upturn the removal of Ogundipe as the VC.
The dilemma of the government stems from the torrents of condemnation that greeted the removal of Ogundipe from office.
The staff unions in the school, the Alumni Association, the Senate and even the Committee of Vice Chancellors are opposed to the development, saying due process was not followed.
They all opined that the development breached Section 3 (8), (9), (10) of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act of 2003 on the removal of the Vice Chancellor of any Federal University in Nigeria.