UNILAG: Soyombo unveils plans as he officially assumes duty

• Says appointment is divine.

Professor Theophilus Soyombo officially assumed duty as the acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos ( UNILAG), Akoka, on Wednesday. This was exactly seven days after he was appointed to the office by the governing council of the university following termination of the appointment of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who is alleged of multiple wrongdoings in office.

Ogundipe had just spent two years and eight months out of five years due term when this development happened and on it as at last Thursday insisted that he was still in charge of the affairs of the university.

However, Professor Soyombo, in his address to the university’s staff, most of whom are non- academics and senior staff union members, said his appointment to the office was not only divine but a call to service.

He said he accepted the offer to bringing sanity to the system and moving the university forward and promised to live up to that expectations not only of his principals, staffs, and students but also of the outside public.

He thanked workers and students for what he called their overwhelming supports through phone calls and SMS he had been receiving since his appointment and urging their cooperation now that he is on the seat.

He promised them good welfare and due promotion and that his administration which is expected to last six months would also run open and transparent activities.

He said UNILAG is bigger than individuals and that since everyone who comes in either as a student or worker would one day leaves the university, they should, therefore, do the right things so as to leave a good legacy on exit.

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While acknowledging that some sections of the university community are aggrieved and not happy about the circumstances that brought him into the position, he said he would engage and continue to engage all sections of stakeholders at individuals and union levels including the academic staff union and the senate so as to bring every stakeholder in and out of the system on the same page.

He said: “UNILAG is known to be the university of first choice and nation’s proud and we must all ensure to work together in the atmosphere of peace to make our university continue to fulfil its tripartite mandates of teaching, research and community services.”

He said the significant part of his life he had spent in UNILAG right from his undergraduate days over 40 years ago and in addition to 38 to 39 years, he has worked in the system and therefore always works for its progress.

He also said he would ensure he put things in order for safety activities in preparation ahead of students resumption on campus and that he would also encourage effective online learning.

When asked of his position at the press briefing about making him the acting vice-chancellor when the law of the university stipulates an incumbent officer for such position and moreso that one of the trios in deputy vice-chancellors capacity participated in the council’s meeting that ousted his predecessor, he said it was simply because the two deputy vice-chancellors who would have qualified among them are yet to be confirmed by the council for their positions.

“So, anybody outside them can be given the acting vice-chancellor’s position,” he said.

Also about not having any of the management staff and senate members except Professors Ayo Olowe and Akinyemi Daramola, as well as only the deputy registrar, Mr Michael Nwakwe, on the ground, to welcome him to the office on this historic day, he said that does not mean they are not supporting him.

He re-emphasised that he would continue to dialogue for support and cooperations of all within the system and also reach out to alumni association and parent forum as he cannot all alone move the university to a greater height.

However, another staff union in the university, which is the senior staff group (SSANU) has also on Wednesday dissociated itself just like its non-academic staff (NASU) counterpart did on Tuesday from its earlier position of supporting Professor Ogundipe and now pledged support for professor Soyombo.

They said they backed out from Professor Ogundipe’s side so as to jointly work with the acting vice-chancellor in order to move the university forward.

While it is not clear the current position of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) of the university as its chairman, Mr Sulyman Ali, did not answer in affirmative whether the union had also toed the path of NASU and SSANU when Tribune Online reached him on phone after the press briefing, the Academic Staff Union (ASUU) on its part, still insisting on its earlier position.

The chairman of the branch, Dr Dele Ashiru, said the position of ASUU is still the same and that is that Professor Soyombo is not recognised as acting vice-chancellor based on circumstances of his emergence which he said is not known to the law of UNILAG.

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