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UNILAG crisis: External interference a sign of failure to respect rules

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University of Lagos

A professor of Sociology at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Lai Olurode has described the failure of internal mechanisms to resolve the conflict as well as the intervention of the Federal Government in the dispute as unfortunate and antithetic to the principle of university autonomy.
Prof Olurode said the crisis should naturally have been resolved, perhaps through legal intervention, as this would have helped in defining boundaries of power and influence.

Recall that the duo of the suspended Pro-chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin and Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe respectively had engaged in a supremacy battle, which led to the intervention of the Visitor and subsequent constitution of a visitation panel.

But in a chat with The Guardian, the former Dean of Social Science noted that the government’s intervention was an indication that only guided autonomy with respect to the university’s governance is acceptable.

“In essence, it is an erosion of the power of the university to be self-governing and self-accounting. It is even more tragic for a university of UNILAG’s age that had produced some of the finest minds in all areas of human endeavour and for a citadel of learning that is well branded,” he said.

Olurode said it was also frustrating that two important organs of the university couldn’t work harmoniously in spite of having a shared vision.

He said: “Not that the university isn’t a centre of embedded conflict but, really disturbing that internal mechanisms for conflict containment including third party intervention outside government proved unhelpful or not exhausted enough.”

According to him, government intervention had denied stakeholders the opportunity of knowing how otherwise the conundrum could have been resolved.

Stressing the importance of lasting peace in the institution, the don noted that the key is to have in place conflict mitigating measures and not crave for peace of the graveyard.

“Each organs must know its limits in order to sustain the tolerable level of peaceful co-existence in the sub-system,” he observed.

He said any governing council, management, and campus unions must be conscious of their public image and limits on their powers, pointing out that external interference is an aberration and probably a sign of failure to respect rules.

Olurode said every organ involved in university governance should be exposed to workshops on management and leadership so that operators would be conversant with special and exceptional features of institutions.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is a very busy person who shouldn’t be burdened by a university’s failure to respect its own rules and provide a conducive environment for learning and research,” he said.


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