Trouble looms in UNILAG as VC, DVCs, ex VC, others battle Wale Babalakin over queries
The University of Lagos has been embroiled in a crisis after some principal officers of the institution were allegedly served queries by the varsity’s Registrar, Oladejo Azeez.
Azeez was reported to be acting on the instruction of the Chairman of Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin.
Those who allegedly got the letters are the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe; the two deputy vice-chancellors, Folasade Ogunsola and Oluwole Familoni; a former VC, Rahamon Bello; the school former Registrar, Taiwo Ipaye.
Others are the Dean of Students’ Affairs, Ademola Adeleke; a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Duro Oni; Head of the Procurement Unit, James Akanmu; Director of Academic Planning, L.O. Chukwu; the immediate former Bursar, Lateef Odekunle; his successor, Lekan Lawal; former Directors of Works, Niyi Ayeye and Adelere Adeniran; and the Director of the foundation programme, Timothy Nubi.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the queries bordered on alleged financial impropriety.
The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities in UNILAG, Dr Dele Ashiru, accused Babalakin of highhandedness, saying due process was not followed in the matter.
During a telephone conversation with our correspondent on Sunday, Ashiru explained that a committee had been set up to investigate certain issues in the varsity.
He noted that the report of the committee was submitted to the Pro-Chancellor, Babalakin, who without allowing the case get to the council, reportedly issued queries to those allegedly indicted in the report.
Ashiru said, “Anybody can be queried if you work for government. So, ASUU is not against anybody being queried if there is a need for it. But what ASUU is saying is that in doing so, everybody should follow the law and due process.
“The position of ASUU is that while the council can take disciplinary measures against any member of the university community who runs foul of the law, Dr Wale Babalakin is not the council. He is just the chairman of the governing council and he cannot be running the council like his private law firm. He cannot be the accuser, the investigator and the judge at the same time.”
Ashiru was said to have earlier issued a statement expressing the same sentiment on the matter, which he said smacked of vindictiveness.
The UNILAG Registrar, Azeez, in a response to the statement, said ASUU was ignorant.
The registrar, in the statement obtained by our correspondent and entitled, ‘Need to tell the truth,’ said Babalakin could act for the council.
“The office of the registrar will be glad to receive the specific law or rule of the university that was breached to enable us to pass it to council.
“It is noteworthy that on previous occasions within the tenure of this council, ASUU had issued notices criticising the council for taking certain steps, and in all these occasions, ASUU was not right. For example, when ASUU issued a statement that the meeting between council and the senate was unprecedented in the history of our university. It turned out to be wrong because previous councils under Chief Afe Babalola and Deacon Gamaliel Onosode had also had similar meetings with the senate.
“Similarly, ASUU issued a statement condemning the non-confirmation of Prof. Olowokudejo as a distinguished professor as an unprecedented violation of the academic autonomy of the university. Again, the statement turned out to be very wrong as it is clearly provided in the University of Lagos Act 1967 that the council is the approving authority for all honours to be conferred by the university.
“It is unbelievable that the same ASUU that approached/and appealed to the pro-chancellor to confirm Olowokudejo’s appointment as a distinguished professor outside plenary after council had taken a decision to step down his appointment in plenary is now making a case that the chairman of council cannot act for council outside plenary. A paramount cornerstone for proper learning is intellectual honesty and consistency.
“We urge ASUU to remember that the University of Lagos is a centre of learning where the pursuit of knowledge is very paramount. There is nothing worse than the tyranny of ignorance,” the statement read in part.
The vice-chancellor, Ogundipe, who was reportedly taken aback by Azeez’s response, allegedly issued him a query for not getting authorisation.
Ogundipe, in his memo entitled; ‘Re: The Need to Tell the Truth: Request for Explanation,’ reportedly said the registrar acted out of order.
ASUU, in its reaction to Azeez’s rebuttal obtained by our correspondent, said the registrar was a sycophant.
“For the incompetent and willing inconsequential tool called Oladejo Azeez, who was smuggled into the office as a lame duck registrar and secretary to the pro-chancellor, he should be reminded that there is a limit to sycophancy and flunkey bootlicking. Oladejo Azeez should get familiar with the function(s) of a seasoned university registrar and stop deploying the paraphernalia of his esteemed office in the service of a brutish leviathan,” the statement said.
One of the affected principal officers, who confirmed the crisis in the institution, declined comment.
“A group is already mediating to ensure the crisis ends,” he said.
Babalakin told our correspondent that the ASUU chairman was not a member of council and could not comment on issues affecting it.
“…I am not aware that the ASUU chairman is a member of council and thus any statement he makes about council is of no evidential value and should not be countenanced by any serious professional,” he said in a text message.
The Registrar, Azeez, while saying the situation was volatile, added that that letters to the officers were not queries.
He said, “The matter is a bit volatile. What I want to say is that no query was issued to anybody. It was a misconstrued letter.”
Azeez also denied that the VC queried him for his rejoinder to ASUU. Punch