Wednesday, May 22, 2019

[LABARAI] EXCLUSIVE: UNILAG Crisis: Governing Council rejects directive of education minister

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Wale Babalakin, are set on a collision course over the crisis in the institution.
This follows the rejection by the university’s Governing Council of a directive by the minister for it to pause the ongoing probe of the university’s management.
The Babalakin-led governing council has been on a warpath with UNILAG’s management over its decision to probe the university’s finances, probe the collapse of an uncompleted library, and investigate other alleged improprieties of the university’s vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and other top officials of the institution.
A probe panel set up by the council reportedly indicted Mr Ogundipe, two of his three deputies – Folashade Ogunsola and Oluwole Familoni – and some principal members of the university’s management.
The council is also at loggerheads with the university’s union of academic staff over queries issued to seven lecturers.
In May, the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the university in a statement accused Mr Babalakin of being dictatorial and acting without the consent of the council.
Mr Babalakin, however, denied acting outside the mandate of the governing council. He told GUSAULOADED that the action of the council was backed by law.
“It is important that ASUU backs up its allegation by referring to (a) specific law that has been violated. Please refer to Section 7 of the University Act, which defines the power of (the) Council. The registrar and secretary to (the) council is in the best position to advise on the procedure of Council. Thank you,” he said in a text message.
It was based on the ongoing dispute that the education minister intervened.
The Intervention

On May 13, Mr Adamu, through a letter addressed to Mr Babalakin, titled: “Re: Correspondence from the Vice Chancellor and ASUU Chapter, University of Lagos,” signed by a permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, stated that it has received “series of correspondence from the UNILAG’s vice chancellor and “other stakeholders bordering on departure from process in conduct of the affairs of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos (copies attached). We are also aware an Emergency Meeting of the Council has been convened from 13th-14thMay, 2019.”
Mr Echono stated that he has been directed to invite the chairman of the council to a meeting with the management of the ministry “to obtain first-hand information” about the activities of the council and the specific issues under reference.
The letter also requested that Mr Babalakin should “stay action and avoid any escalation pending this consultative meeting which is without prejudice to the merit or otherwise of the contemplated action.”
However, in his response dated May 17, obtained by GUSAULOADED, Mr Babalakin frowned at the manner the minister’s directive was originally communicated.
“As a prelude to this letter, at the commencement of the Special Meeting on 13thMay 2019, the representative of the Ministry of Education – Ms Ann Haruna -informed Council that she had just received a call from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education – Arc. S.T Echono, fnia who has directed that our Council should not discuss the Report that examined the expenditure of the University and the Report that examined the collapse of the library building in the University.
“Members of the Council were taken aback by: (a) this mode of communication with Council, i.e the verbal nature of the communication, and (b) the propriety of the message.”
He explained that in the six years he has been pro-chancellor of the university, “the directive from the ministry was the first time its representative would give an instruction to the Council of the University about the issues to be discussed in a Council meeting.”
Mr Babalakin then explained that due to the inappropriateness of the minister’s directive, the council resolved “





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