• Varsity teachers urge probe of sack of VC • Announce own software to tackle corruption in schools
The situation at the University of Lagos is getting messier as the controversially appointed acting Vice Chancellor, Prof Omololu Soyombo assumed duty amid heavy security.
Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe was earlier sacked as Vice Chancellor by the governing council of the university at a meeting presided over by the Pro-Chancellor Dr Wale Babalakin. The council had thereafter named Soyombo as the acting VC, a decision that has polarised the council and Senate of the university.
Addressing workers, Soyombo, who was earlier warned by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) UNILAG chapter, to steer clear of the office as the position of VC was not vacant, said he had resumed.
“I’ve resumed effectively as the VC and I hereby solicit the support of every member of staff so we can work together, discharge our duties peacefully for the progress of UNILAG.”
Law enforcement agents were deployed to the varsity to maintain peace and order and forestall any imminent disturbance relating to his appointment.
Ogundipe was removed over alleged financial impropriety and gross misconduct.
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Universities in Nigeria (CVCUN) had earlier said that the varsity’s Senate would not recognise Soyombo as the acting vice-chancellor. The committee insisted on what it said was the laws of the institution, to the effect that, if a vice chancellor is removed, one of the deputies should be appointed to act.
“This is going to pose another problem, senate members will not allow such a person to chair their meeting because they don’t know him within the context of laws establishing universities,” CVCUN had said.
“The challenge with this action is that the university community said the council did not follow due process; indeed, the communication from the embattled VC is clear and it is to that effect.”
ASUU, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately constitute a special visitation panel to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the events that led to Ogundipe’s removal.
National President of the union, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, who disclosed this at a press conference yesterday in Abuja, said all found culpable in what it described as illegal removal of Ogundipe should be made to face justice.
He noted that the union was in full support of UNILAG Senate’s rejection of Dr. Wale Babalakin-led Governing Council’s ill-informed decision to remove the vice chancellor.
Ogunyemi argued that the action did not follow due process, adding that the removal of a vice chancellor was not the preserve of legal luminaries.
He said “ASUU received the news of the purported removal of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Oluwatoyin Ogundipe by the Governing Council chaired by Dr. Wale Babalakin with absolute shock and total disappointment.
“In spite of Dr. Babalakin’s spirited effort to defend the indefensible, it is now clear to all and sundry that there is more to the story coming from the senior member of the bar.
According to him “Babalakin should be reminded that the knowledge of procedures and processes for appointments and removal of vice-chancellors is not the exclusive preserve of legal luminaries because the sources are out there in the public space.
He explained that ASUU had consistently been at the forefront of university autonomy in Nigeria.
“As we speak, university autonomy and academic freedom is one of the key items listed for renegotiation in 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement, which Dr. Wale Babalakin-led team has unduly dragged for three-and-half years without any concrete results .
Ogunyemi noted that the union had developed a prototype of the IPPIS, called University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which it urged the government to implement rather than the IPPIS.
“Following our engagements with the Federal Government over the issues that eventually led to the declaration of the ongoing strike action on 17th March, 2020, government declared that it “accepts in principle the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which is being developed by ASUU and its researchers for the financial administration of the University’s FG’s staff monthly payroll and accounting processes.
“In addition, the Federal Government pledged, “When fully developed, UTAS will be subjected to various integrity tests to verify its efficacy to see whether this final product will pass the necessary technical attribute test as specified by NITDA.”
He said “On our part, ASUU had given a timeframe of 18 months to government to develop, test and deploy UTAS. In keeping with this promise, ASUU is pleased to announce that UTAS is now ready for the “integrity tests” required of it by government. Indeed, the software was unveiled by way of demonstration to the Minister and Senior Management Staff of the Ministry of Education, including the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), yesterday, 17th August 2020.
“We must, however, emphasize that UTAS is far more than just an alternative to IPPIS, which does not respect the nature, structure and character of the Nigerian University System. It was ill advised, ab initio, to have deployed IPPIS in the universities.
“All the distortions and disruptions being reported within the university payrolls of federal universities in the last six months or so, even by those who initially welcomed IPPIS with open arms, were predicted by ASUU. Unlike IPPIS, however, the UTAS is a web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application deployed for the overall management of university resources in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner. “