I am reacting to a story published in your newspaper on Thursday July 7, 2016 entitled: Afe Babalola cautions against government interference in varsity administration.
I agree with the thoughtful submission of the eminent jurist and proprietor of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, that the Visitors to federal and state universities cannot appoint, query, or sack a Vice-Chancellor. His sensible intervention came at a time when Visitors, particularly a President, demonstrate wanton disregard for the University Acts which clearly spell out the roles of the Governing Councils, Visitor, and Vice-Chancellor. The respected lawyer is right that only a University Governing Council can appoint, discipline, or remove a Vice-Chancellor.
At the time the distinguished legal luminary was delivering the 21st Convocation Lecture of the Ekiti State University, entitled ‘University Administration: The Role of Stakeholders’, Obafemi Awolowo University was (and still is) enmeshed in a needless crisis on the process that produced the current 11th Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayobami Salami. Such unions like NASU and SSANU, and an inconsequential group of lecturers (not ASUU as a body) are claiming that the Governing Council did not follow the process as established in the University Acts on the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor.
But it could have made a good sense had they asked for an investigation to determine whether the process was tinkered with by the Governing Council as alleged. No! They called on the Visitor to dissolve the Governing Council without an investigation and interfere in the running of the school by appointing an Acting Vice-Chancellor. Being an entity more amenable to illegality as Chief Babalola lamented in that lecture, the Visitor, without first investigating the unions’ claim, dissolved the Governing Council. It also asked that the process for the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor be suspended pending the outcome of the case filed by the unions in court.
The fact is that as at the time the Visitor made that declaration (June 30), the process for the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor for the institution had already been concluded – as far back as June 6. And on June 21, the Presidency, via the Federal Character Commission, issued a certificate of compliance to the school Registrar, asking him to issue a letter of appointment to Prof. Salami as the Vice-Chancellor. On June 24, a day after the five-year tenure of Prof. Bamitale Omole ended, Prof. Salami assumed office. All of these were duly reported in the media.
With the Visitor now in a bind, not knowing whether to constitute a new Governing Council or commit another illegality by appointing an Acting Vice-Chancellor, the school is now still closed and students are suffering from the misdeeds of egoistic adults. The call for an Acting Vice-Chancellor is a disguised call on the Visitor to contravene the University (Miscellaneous) Autonomy Act (as amended) 2003 and interfere unduly in the running of the affairs of OAU. Those making this strange call are not motivated by the solution to the problem; their goal is to further exacerbate the crisis.
The practicable solution that will see the university open and operate smoothly is for the Visitor to restore the Governing Council and set up an investigative panel to examine the process that produced the current Vice-Chancellor.
- Prof Chukwuka Kalu,