The federal government has said it will make an important announcement on the crisis rocking the University of Lagos (UNILAG)), on Wednesday.
The director of press at the federal ministry of education, Ben Goong, confirmed on the phone to our reporter that the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, will by 12 noon on Wednesday address journalists on the crisis rocking the 58-year-old university. He, however, could not give the details of the planned media briefing by the minister.
Sources at the presidency and the education ministry, however, told PREMIUM TIMES that the embattled vice-chancellor of the university, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who was suspended in August by the institution’s Visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari, would be reinstated.
Our sources say that apart from announcing the reinstatement of the vice-chancellor, the minister will also announce the dissolution of the governing council.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that these were the contents of the government White Paper on the crisis rocking the university. The White Paper has not been made public and this reporter has not seen the content.
The White Paper, which states the government’s legal position on the matter, was developed based on the findings and recommendations of a seven-member special presidential visitation panel that was set up by the government to look into the immediate and remote causes of the crisis that rocked the university.
The panel, chaired by a former vice-chancellor, Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State, Sa’ad Tukur, had on September 17 submitted its report after spending about three weeks instead of the two-week duration earlier announced by the government.
Following the crisis that greeted the controversial removal of Mr. Ogundipe as the vice-chancellor by the Wale Babalakin-led governing council of the university on August 12, the federal government quickly intervened by asking both Messrs Ogundipe and Babalakin to step aside pending the conclusion of its investigation into the crisis.
Though Mr Babalakin appeared before the panel, he resigned his appointment as the governing council chairperson the same day the panel submitted its report.
He also relinquished his position as the chairperson of the ASUU-FGN Agreement renegotiation team.
The former council chairperson said he disagreed with the government on the composition of the visitation panel, saying the panel was raised to exonerate the vice-chancellor.
Mr Babalakin’s resignation was followed by that of another member of the governing council, Bayo Adaralegbe, who also raised similar allegations against the panel.
Mr Adaralegbe is a lawyer and partner at Babalakin and Company, a law chamber founded by Mr Babalakin.
The crisis rocking the university had reached its climax in March, when the governing council chairperson said he was not carried along in organising the university’s convocation ceremonies. He copied the minister on a letter of complaint addressed to the vice-chancellor.
Mandated by the minister, the National Universities Commission (NUC), the regulatory body for universities, ordered the suspension of the ceremonies after the weeklong event had already commenced.
The development led to accusations and counter accusations among major stakeholders in the university system and particularly between the vice-chancellor and Mr Babalakin.
The governing council accused Mr Ogundipe-led management of financial recklessness, misappropriation and concealing information from the governing council.
The allegations and the subsequent report of an ad hoc committee set up to investigate the university’s finances formed the basis upon which the governing council said it removed Mr Ogundipe from office. The decision was taken at a special governing council meeting held at the NUC’s headquarters in Abuja.
The meeting was taken to Abuja after the declaration of Mr Babalakin as a persona non grata on the campus by the university’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU)
The governing council also announced a former dean of the institution’s faculty of social sciences, Theophilus Soyombo, as acting vice-chancellor.
But the stiff opposition from major stakeholders in the university including the senate, alumni association, among others, informed the government’s quick intervention.
Apart from setting up a special visitation panel, the government also announced the president of the alumni association, John Momoh, as the acting governing council chairman. It also instructed the senate of the university to elect an acting vice-chancellor.
At a special meeting convened by the senate, election was conducted between the deputy vice-chancellors in charge of administration and developmental services, Ben Oghojafor and Folasade Ogunsola respectively. The latter emerged the acting vice-chancellor with a wide margin having polled 135 votes as against Mr Oghojafor’s 31.
Mrs Ogunsola, a former provost of the university’s college of medicine, has since then been in the saddle as the acting vice-chancellor of the university. But, if Mr Ogundipe is reinstated on Wednesday, she will have to vacate the seat and return to her position as a deputy vice-chancellor.
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