The Federal Government on Wednesday, inaugurated the Special Visitation Panel to look into the crisis rocking the University of Lagos, following the removal of its Vice-Chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and the suspension of the Chairman of the University’s governing council, Wale Babalakin.
The panel is expected to conclude its assignment and submit its report within two weeks.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the panel headed by Prof Tukur Sa’ad, on behalf of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), warned the members against interfering in the activities of the university management.
He encouraged the stakeholders in the university to fully cooperate with the panel and to allow it to work unhindered.
Adamu said, “Councils are to lay down policies while managements are to implement them, but over the past one year, the ministry has been inundated with complaints and correspondences from the management and the governing council of the University of Lagos as well as the National Assembly, on the lingering governance issues in the institution, including allegations of financial infractions and breach of responsibilities.”
He insisted that like he said about a month ago when he inaugurated the reconstituted governing councils of 13 federal universities, chairmen and members of the council must ensure that they do not interfere with the day-to-day administrative activities of their respective university managements.
Expressing regrets over the UNILAG crisis, the minister noted that the face-off had lingered in spite of several interventions by the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education, stakeholders and the National Universities Commission leading to the removal of the VC by the governing council during its meeting on August 12, 2020.
Adamu observed that rather than stabilize the situation, the appointment of an acting VC further worsened the crisis prompting the president to set up the visitation panel.
He added, “Due process was alleged not to have been followed in the removal and appointment of the vice-chancellor and the acting vice-chancellor, respectively.
“This led to the widespread protests, outright rejection, and lack of acceptability of the acting vice-chancellor by the university community.
“The President and Visitor to the University, after due consideration of the report of the crisis in the university, particularly the polarization and unhealthy relationship between the vice-chancellor and the chairman and pro-chancellor and some members of the governing council, approved the constitution of a seven-man Special Visitation Panel to the institution.
The minister explained that the panel was expected to submit recommendations towards repositioning the institution to its pride of place in the Nigerian university system.
Members of the panel headed by Sa’ad, include, Victor Onuoha; Prof Ikenna Onyido; Prof Ekanem Braide; Prof Adamu Usman; Chief Jimoh Bankole and the Secretary, Grace Ekanem.
The panel chairman assured that the panel would strictly stick to its responsibility, noting that the members would justify the confidence reposed in them by the president.
Among other things, the panel was expected to review the report of the governing council’s Sub-Committee on Review of the Expenditure of the University of Lagos since May 2017 and make appropriate recommendations, after affording all those indicted an opportunity to defend themselves.
It would also examine the steps taken by the council leading to the removal of Ogundipe, and ascertain whether due process was followed as stipulated in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 2003, and the principle of fair hearing adhered to.
The panel would also determine whether the process (if any) leading to the appointment of the acting vice~chancellor for the university was consistent with the provisions of the enabling Act and make appropriate recommendations, including sanctions for all those found culpable by the Special Visitation Team, on the allegations contained in the report as well as other subsequent actions arising therefrom.
It would also make recommendations that will assist the government to make decisions that would ensure peaceful, stable, and effective administration of the university.