The battle for the soul of the University of Lagos continues unrestrained. The Governing Council of the university came all the way to Abuja to meet and sack the sitting Vice Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe. He resisted and fired his own public notice discountenancing removal.
Not done, the Registrar of the university and Secretary of council, Mr. Oladejo Azeez, believed to have the full backing of its chairman, Mr. Wale Babalakin SAN, issued another statement naming Professor Theophilus Soyombo as acting vice chancellor.
In the messy mix, steps in major and loud stakeholder, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which describes the action of the council as an illegal contraption. ASUU’s position changes the face of the battle, and it promises to be a long drawn one.
Major stakeholders, the students are on edge but side with Ogundipe.
School owner, the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education, says the council has the power to hire and fire. Ben Goong, its spokesman say, ““While the Ministry awaits for the proper briefing from the university authorities, it is important to reaffirm that council has the power to hire and fire but that due process must be followed in doing so.”
Azeez statement eads: “My attention has been drawn to a document circulating under the hand and signature of the former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe, FAS. The letter purports to deny his removal by the Governing Council of University at its Emergency Meeting of Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I am in my capacity as Registrar and Secretary to Council the only custodian of the minutes of Council and the authorizing officer on behalf of Council to issue official statements pertaining to all Council Affairs.
“Members of the public are hereby advised to totally disregard the statement attributed to the said former Vice Chancellor. The position remains that he was lawfully removed by the Governing Council at a meeting fully attended by all Council members.
“I also wish to use the opportunity to inform members of the public that Council at the said meeting duly appointed Professor Theophilus Omololu Soyombo of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos as Vice Chancellor of the University in an Acting Capacity.”
Ogundipe had said that “his purported removal is an act of illegality and cannot stand as it is in clear violation of UNILAG Act as amended by the universities (miscellaneous provisions) amendment Act, 2003.”
He urged members of the UNILAG community and the general public to disregard the information about his removal.
Students say they have confidence in Ogundipe and his style of leadership since he came on board as the vice-chancellor of the university two years ago, adding that his administration follows due process in all its activities.
The two members council, Professors Olukemi Odukoya, and Bola Oboh, lays the blame for on-going drama squarely Babalakin.
They insist due process was not followed as Ogundipe was not given the opportunity to defend himself.