Education Opinion


Since I published my first article on the crisis currently rocking the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Management about three days ago, I have received so many calls from different stakeholders in the institutions, some of whom are top officials in the management.
Some of the calls were to commend me and acknowledge that I said the truth and that I was objective, while some were to persuade me to “forget the past and let’s work together to fight Babalakin’s tyranny”.
This is really surprising, especially because it came from same people who victimized me and other student leaders at the time, and to me, it shows the desperation of the University management to either further tarnish the image of the Chairman of Governing Council of the school – Dr. Wale Babalakin or to cover up something, and it calls to question what the University Senate is hiding.

To begin with, it is quite interesting to know that my first article rattled the UNILAG management so much that I received close to 60 calls and messages within two days, I honestly did not expect that.
It is also very interesting that since the former Vice Chancellor – Prof. ‘Toyin Ogundipe’s sack was announced, every message or interview coming from UNILAG has been an attack on the person of Dr. Babalakin and the fact that he did not follow due process.
Not one has shed light on the allegations against the former VC, and that, to me, is one-sided and suspicious.

Since the sack was announced, the Senate, after an emergency meeting chaired by Prof. Chioma Agomo released a statement and granted an interview to the press; the Alumni Association, after an emergency meeting chaired by the President – Dr. John Momoh also released a statement; the UNILAG Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), led by Dr. Dele Ashiru also held emergency congress and released a communique afterwards; other unions on campus also did.
None of them mentioned the allegations, none of them said the Council Chairman lied against Prof. Ogundipe, and all of these make it appear to be a calculated attempt to use the messenger to discredit the message.

The Chairman of Council has alleged that the former VC spent millions of Naira without the Council’s approval, which means Prof. Ogundipe has also not been following due process. The Chairman alleged that the former VC did a lot of extra-budgetary spending, that he was indicted in a forgery case, that he was indicted in the collapsed UNILAG Library building, that he spent N49million to renovate his building, gave the Bursar N41million to renovate his building, gave the former Registrar N16million to renovate her building, and that the office of the Dean of Student Affairs (DSA) has been receiving N2.5million monthly has “Security Votes” among other allegations. All without the knowledge/approval of the Council.
How come almost everyone in UNILAG is closing their eyes to all these allegations? Why are they all focusing only on the Council Chairman’s illegality and not the wrongdoings of the former VC? Should the calling out not be on both sides?
I also wonder why Prof. Ogundipe has not come out openly to deny all these, since the Council Chairman came out openly to make his allegations.

To put this into perspective, the former VC was the Chairman of the Senate, which means some other members of the Senate may be culpable in these allegations against Prof. Ogundipe, and which makes it obvious why the Senate has been giving him this much support.
The Alumni President is also a member of Council, so he definitely would know so much about all these allegations, I wonder why he is not talking about them, and it would be interesting to know which side he voted on during the removal of Prof. Ogundipe, since only 4 people voted against his removal.

For the ASUU UNILAG Chairman, he appears to have been crying more than the bereaved since this whole issue started, and that is not surprising. I have seen several of his interviews and actions on this matter, and it is so unfortunate that he has made ASUU a puppet of the UNILAG management. The reasons for his actions are obvious to those who know that he has been receiving monthly “Security Votes” from the UNILAG management through the office of the DSA (that probably explains why the office has been getting N2.5m monthly), and I would really love for him to deny this, so that those who have the evidence can begin to show it.

It is also very interesting to see Dr. Ashiru and the UNILAG Senate calling on the Minister of Education and the University’s visitor to come mediate in this crisis. I thought Universities were autonomous and that they can manage their affairs by themselves, or is that only applicable when it comes to sharing money and awarding contracts?
Why is this different?

From all indications, it appears that anomalies have been made normal over the years in the University of Lagos, wrongdoings have become every day activities. Those who are supposed to speak against it are benefitting from it, those who are not benefitting from it are afraid of speaking out for fear of victimization. It is very unfortunate.

As I mentioned in a TV interview that I appeared on yesterday, my recommendations are:

  1. That the UNILAG Governing Council be dissolved and reconstituted, because the members are obviously divided and the relationship between the Council and the Senate has been strained.
  2. That the former VC – Prof. Ogundipe should be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted if found guilty.
  3. That the powers of university Senate be reduced and the autonomy of universities in Nigeria should be reviewed, since it is obvious that it is an opportunity for them to loot while the stakeholders form onlookers.

On this note, I rest my case.

Emmanuel Afolabi (AFOO)
Ex-ULSU Gen Sec

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