THE Senate of the University of Lagos on Thursday gave its backing to Vice Chancellor Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, whose sack was announced by the Governing Council on Tuesday.
Unions in the university — the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) — also affirmed confidence in Prof. Ogundipe’s leadership.
The Senate and the unions called for the sack of the Governing Council, led by Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN).
Babalakin and the Vice Chancellor have been at loggerheads for some time, leading to a meeting of the council in Abuja on Tuesday and the announcement of the VC’s sack.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the umbrella of Civil Societies Publicity and Good Governance, at a news conference in Abuja yesterday, addressed by its publicity secretary, Idowu Odebunmi, said: “It is doubtful the Vice Chancellor was not removed out of vendetta.”
Prof. Ogundipe addressed a rally staged by workers from the university council chambers to the gate and back, restating that his dismissal did not follow the dictates of the University Act.
The VC briefed his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), addressing him “to redress this grave injustice meted out to me.”
UNILAG Senate called on the Visitor to the University, President Muhammad Buhari, the Education Minister and the National Universities Commission (NUC) to reverse Ogundipe’s sack and urged not accept Prof Theophilus Soyombo, appointed by the Council yesterday morning as acting vice chancellor, not to accept the offer.
No fewer than 88 Senate members attended the emergency Senate meeting held at the Ade Ajayi Main Auditorium.
Former Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. Chioma Agomo, who presided over the meeting, said more than one third of Senate members attended.
She said: “Unanimously, without a single dissention we agreed that due process has not been followed; that the purported removal of our vice chancellor has no legal effect because there are laid down procedures. Therefore, the Senate passes vote of confidence in our vice chancellor and we do not recognise anything otherwise.
“Secondly, Senate has also unanimously agreed that it had lost confidence completely in the present Council of the University of Lagos. We had more than a third of members that attended the meeting at short notice and we agreed that we have lost confidence in the Pro-Chancellor, we have lost confidence in the Council.”
The Senate is to present its resolutions to the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja.
ASUU Chairman, Dr. Dele Ashiru, said the unions would not accept an acting VC.
The four unions condemned the purported, illegal, reckless, and questionable, unwarranted removal of the vice chancellor and affirmed confidence in his leadership.
Ashiru said: “Let me send a word of advice to any surrogate vice chancellor where ever he may be. This university is not a Jankara Republic where village chiefs are appointed by fiat. Anybody who is dreaming to become Vice Chancellor should wait until the end of the tenure of Prof. Ogundipe, apply properly and if qualified will be appointed VC. To think that anybody will become vice chancellor by kangaroo factor, paddy-paddy arrangement will not work in this university.
“We call on the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, to please speak up in this flagrant violation of law. This is an assualt on the rule of law and a government that prides itself as a defender of the rule of law and fights against corruption cannot be criminally silent in the face of this provocation.
“We therefore, want to call the Executive Secretary of the NUC and the Minister of Education to please call Dr. Wale Babalakin to order, annul the purported illegal removal, and because of the consistent violation of the University regulations by the Dr. Wale Babalakin Council, we pray that that Council be immediately dissolved.”
Ogundipe, who attended the joint congress, said he had served the institution for 30 years.
Urging the unions to be calm, he said: “We are all builders. We have invested years into this university. It will be 30 years that I have been working at the University of Lagos this year. And considering the number of years that all of you have invested in this system – you are an investor in this system. So, remain an investor in this system to move it forward; remain a builder to build the system.
“Let us pray for peace of the University and let us wait for the directive of the Government.”
Ogundipe also said he would re-dedicate himself to the service of the University.
The congress was followed with a rally from the Council Chambers to the University’s main gate and back.
Federal Ministry of Education spokesperson Ben Goong said the ministry was awaiting notification from the Governing Council before taking the next step.
He said: “Up till now (yesterday) we have not been briefed. You know there are processes and procedures like we said but we are not yet briefed.
“I can assure you that once we are briefed, the ministry will apply the appropriate…. which is- has due process been followed? If the answer is yes, fine,and good; if the answer is no, the ministry will take the next step.”