The Federal Government on Wednesday inaugurated a seven-man special Presidential visitation panel to look into the crisis rocking the University of Lagos.
The panel, which is led by Professor Tukur Sa’ad is mandated to complete its assignment and submit within two weeks as well as come up with recommendations towards repositioning the institution to its pride of place in the Nigerian university system.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the panel in Abuja, said President Muhammadu Buhari as the Visitor to the UNILAG has no personal interest other than the interest of the University.
Other members are Barrister Victor Onuoha, Professor Ikenna Onyido, Professor Ekanem Braide, Professor Adamu K Usman, Chief Jimoh Bankole, and Barrister Grace Ekanem who is to serve as Secretary.
He said the chairman and members of the panel were carefully selected in recognition of their integrity, track records and antecedents in university management and leadership.
He, therefore, urged all stakeholders in the University of Lagos to fully cooperate with the panel and to allow it to work unhindered, saying he was confident that members of the Visitation panel would bring to bear their expertise in university administration in the discharge of the task, in order to bring the institution back to the path of progress and greatness.
He expressed concern that 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 lingering governance issues in UNILAG, including allegations of financial infractions and breach of responsibilities.
Adamu noted that the face-off has lingered on unabated, in spite of several interventions by the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education, many stakeholders and the National Universities Commission (NUC), eventually leading to the removal of Professor Oluwatoyin Temitayo Ogundipe as vice-chancellor by the University Governing Council led by the Chairman of the Council, Dr Wale Babalakin during its meeting of Wednesday, 12th August 2020.
“The council thereafter appointed an acting vice-chancellor to fill the void. It is instructive to note that the decision of Council, instead of stabilizing the University of Lagos, only managed to open up a plethora of accusations and
“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 UNILAG community.
“The President and Visitor to the University, after due consideration of the report of the crisis in the university, particularly the polarisation 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,” he said.
Adamu listed terms of reference of the panel to include viewing the report of the Council 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;
The panel is also to “examine the steps taken by the council leading to the removal of the vice-chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Temitope 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;
“To 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 to 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.
“The panel is also to make any recommendations that will assist the government to make decisions that will ensure peaceful, stable and effective administration of the UNILAG.
The Minister recalled that about a month ago, he inaugurated the reconstituted Governing Councils of thirteen (13) Federal universities where he urged the chairmen and members of councils were advised to ensure that councils do not
interfere with the day-to-day administrative activities of their respective university managements.
“Councils are to lay down policies while managements are to implement them,” he said.