Anger over ‘hasty removal’ of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as vice chancellor of the university of Lagos

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The Nigerian Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has chided the Governing Council of the University of Lagos headed by Dr. Wale Babalakin on how Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe was controversially removed as the university’s Vice-Chancellor on Wednesday August 12, 2020, at a meeting held in Abuja.

In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Acting Director, Administration and Programs on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “With bated breath, we received the news of the hasty removal of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe”.

“We have been drawn to the lingering crisis within the topmost hierarchy of the university of Lagos management, occasioned by allegations of mismanagement of funds by certain officials of the university on one hand and the alleged overbearing attitude of the Pro-Chancellor of the institution, which has weighted negatively on free administration of the school that threatens the traditional and symbiotic relationship between the Governing Council, the Senate and the university’s Vice-Chancellor as the Chief Accounting officer of the ivory tower on the other end”.

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“We have tried to intervene in the crisis as a concerned Civil Society Organisation and our intervention became necessary considering the primal position the affected university holds as one of the premier universities established shortly after Nigeria’s independence in the 1960s and its impressive array of alumni that cut across all social strata in the country”.

Though we were able to gather some information from a cross-section of the University community representing both sides of the divide, we could not take a stand, specifically because we could not hear the Pro-Chancellor’s side of the story directly as all our attempts including the letter of request were rebuffed on the ground that the university’s law forbade him from discussing the issues with an off-campus organization like ours.

Although, a few of the direct stakeholders including Professors sounded out at Akoka and the College of Medicine Campuses of the institution supported the Governing Council but most of them were on the side of the Vice-Chancellor.

Inasmuch as we are not saying the embattled Vice Chancellor is right or wrong, our major interest is that due process guiding the removal of a Vice-Chancellor must be followed. The fact that the selection of the Acting Vice-Chancellor announced by the Governing Council was not known to the Senate who runs the day to day activities of the University left much to be desired of the whole process leading to the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.

Moreover, the four labour unions of the university namely, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) also kicked against what they described as arbitrary removal of the Vice-Chancellor and even staged a protest on Thursday, 13th of August, 2020 to demand for his reinstatement.

It is a popular saying that whenever two Elephants fight, it is the grass that will always suffer, this is what seemed to be playing out at UNILAG as the administrative impasse within the University of Lagos will no doubt not only affect the majority of undergraduate and postgraduate students of the University but also affect other areas of administration, research and teaching.

CACOL strongly recommends that the way out of this quagmire is the immediate reversal to the status quo and to allow all and sundry especially the primary stakeholders which include all the Unions in the university to agree that due process has taken its course. It is University of Lagos today; it may be another University tomorrow and if the right things are not done now, then it may turn out that the wrong precedents would have been laid for such future rascality and arbitrary hiring and firing of Vice-Chancellors in our citadel of learning.

“It is disheartening that almost a week after the announcement of the sack of the Vice-Chancellor, there has not been an official statement from either the Ministry of Education or the National Universities Commission (NUC). This seemingly conspiracy of silence from the two principal agencies of government who should be in the know concerning the running of the reputable institution of higher learning is loud enough to send the wrong signals to other stakeholders and even members of the public”.

We therefore call on Mr. President who is the Visitor to the University to intervene in the ugly situation playing out at the University now and bring all warring factions to the roundtable with a view to ensuring that lasting peace and harmony reign on the campus, so that the goodwill and the brand the university has built over the years will not be brought to disrepute and the University as a whole will not be irretrievably demarketed.

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