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CAMPUS LIFE: ‘UNILAG has not progressed under our Pro-chancellor’

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The Chairman, UNILAG Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Dele Ashiru, speaks on the crisis rocking the university. Excerpts:

The council sub-committee set up to probe the university’s finances has submitted its report, which reportedly indicted some serving and former principal officers of the university. What is your take on this?

To start with, there are two committees. The first is the council committee set up to investigate the university expenditure since May 2017 when Dr. Wale Babalakin became the Pro-chancellor till date. Let me start from the committee, council committees are supposed to be composed of council members. One very strange innovation which Dr. Wale Babalakin has brought into our council is to bring a retinue of secretaries from his law chambers who will be in attendance in our council. That is outright un-procedural. Secondly, the registrar and the bursar of the university reserve the prerogative to select senior members of their respective departments to be in the attendance in council in the event that they need information which the registrar or the bursar may not readily be able to provide at that point.

But strangely, our Pro-chancellor Dr. Wale Babalakin decreed some strange fellows – some of them who contested against the bursar – and brought them into the council to participate in council proceedings and served in this disputed committee. What I am simply saying is that the report of the committee that is currently controversial has as its members individuals who are not council members. So to that extent, we are faulting the composition of that committee.

Can you be specific by naming those who are not council members that served in the council committee?

The registrar himself who is the secretary to the council was a member of the committee. Mrs. Adefowope, a deputy bursar in the university who contested and did not make it as bursar, was a member of the expenditure investigative committee. The Pro-chancellor brought her into council and she is a member of that committee. That is un-procedural. But let us leave that aside, when the committee submitted its report to the Pro-chancellor to the exclusion of all other council members, without their knowledge of what is in the report of the committee, the Pro-chancellor started issuing queries to members of the university community.

Our own contention is that we will not support corruption wherever it may be found. But he who comes into equity must come with clean hands. If you want to fight corruption, you cannot do so by a corrupt procedure. That council committee ought to have sent its report back to the council, the council will receive it, debate and deliberate on it and, on the basis of that, will take a decision. If that was the process, our union will not have kicked against it. But the Pro-chancellor has a penchant for unilateral, dictatorial, tyrannical, reckless and authoritarian behaviour, and our union will not accept that.

By the University Act, does the council chairman have the power to query the VC?

The Council can query the Vice Chancellor; not the Pro-chancellor querying the Vice Chancellor. The Pro-chancellor has put the cart before the horse, and I am at amiss at how he is going to wriggle out of legalistic quagmire he has put the university into. The council of a university can, on the receipt of a report, query any member of staff of the university. But that will be a council in session; not an individual who wants to hit back at people who had denied him the opportunity of some of the very draconian actions that he wanted to take on this campus. That is really what is happening.

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