Stakeholders set agenda for UNILAG visitation panel
Stakeholders in the education sector have appealed to the visitation panel to the troubled University of Lagos (UNILAG) to proffer solutions to the issues and address the instability problem threatening to tear the institution apart.
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Peter Okebukola and Pro-Chancellor, Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Prof Ayodeji Olukoju enjoined the gladiators to cooperate with the panel to enable the committee come up with appropriate recommendations.
They expressed confidence in the panel membership and its ability to deliver without bias and enjoined the university community to assist the team to achieve results.
The Federal Government had last Friday wielded the big stick against the warring parties in the UNILAG saga, directing the Pro-Chancellor, Prof Wale Babalakin, the embatlled Vice Chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Omoniyi Soyombo to step aside, and named a visitation panel to look into the crisis.
It also mandated the institution’s Senate to appoint an acting VC, which has led to the emergence of Prof Folasade Ogunsola.
ASUU national president, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi said for stability in the system, all parties in the feud should support the panel, which has been set up to intervene in the leadership crisis rocking the institution.
Ogunyemi who described the Federal Government’s action as long over due and in order said it is imperative for all the parties to cooperate with the team for normalcy and peace to return to the institution.
He said, ”We think the government has taken a right decision, we called for special visitation panel to go and look Into the immediate and remote causes of the leadership crisis we are having there, particularly at the level of council. Our position is that the council erred in two respects; not following due process in removing the vice chancellor, and of course not following the due process in appointing an acting VC.
“So if government is acting on those two planks, we are in total agreement and we hope that what has happened in UNILAG would not resurface in any other campus in Nigeria. We believe that it is only by nipping it in the bud that we can put a stop to authoritarianism at the level of council.
“We are not saying whoever has run foul of procedures in university governance, whether at the level of the VC or Pro-Chancellor should not be made to face the law. And if that is the case, the development should be examined from all possible ramifications so that there is fairness, equity and justice. That is what we stand for.
Prof Ogunyemi said it is imperative for parties involved in the management of the university to respect the law, statutes, regulations and procedures to forestall crisis.
“ We are not in a position to defend any vice chancellor that is found culpable in mismanaging funds but at the same time, we don’t want a situation that a Pro-Chancellor would visit a vice chancellor with injustice just on account of suspicions and allegations. So if a vice chancellor is suspected or alleged to have committed infractions, let the vice chancellor be taken through the due process,” Ogunyemi added.
Ogunyemi added, “The jigsaw puzzle should be addressed to give us all sustainable peace, not just in UNILAG but the entire university system. We hope and pray that they will not fail.”
On his part, Prof Okebukola described Federal Government’s intervention in the leadership crisis as a “balm”, which soothed his aching heart.
Prof Okebukola, a Distinguished Professor of Science and Computer at the Lagos State University, Ojo, expressed confidence that the panel would do a good job and proffer lasting solutions.
He said, “Looking at the composition of the panel and based on the track record of the chairman and members, I am confident that a good job will be done in discharging its terms of reference.
On his part, Prof Olukoju who described the setting up of the panel as timely said the team has a responsibility to restore peace to the troubled institution, which has been polarised as a result of the crisis.
He appealed that the proceedings of the panel should be transparent and must be seen to be so.
“The panel should be fair in the conduct and outcome of its investigation. Anyone with evidence to assist the team should be free to approach it without any encumbrance. The Federal Government should be guided by the visitation panel’s report and issue a white paper with dispatch,” Olukoju stated.