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UNILAG Crisis: Buhari appoints John Momoh acting Governing Council chair

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The federal government has appointed the Chairman and CEO of Channels TV, John Momoh, as acting chairman of the governing council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka.

Mr Momoh, who is the president of the institution’s alumni association, has been a member of the council representing the association.

His appointment follows the removal of lawyer and businessman, Wale Babalakin, from the position over the leadership crisis in the university.

In a letter addressed to the ace broadcaster dated August 21, 2020, and signed by the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, Mr Momoh was directed to convene an emergency meeting of the council to “consider and, if found suitable, approve the senate nomination of the acting Vice-Chancellor for University of Lagos, in line with the enabling Act.”

The letter which is referenced; FME/PS/606/C.I/III/129, is titled; “Emergency Meeting of the Governing Council of University of Lagos.”

It further reads in part; “You are to preside at the meeting in the absence of the substantive pro-chancellor/chairman of council who has had to recuse himself in line with the visitor’s directive.

“You are to also submit a report on the decision of the council to the visitor through the honourable minister of education immediately thereafter.”

Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES has reliably gathered that the emergency governing council meeting will hold today (Tuesday) ahead of Wednesday’s planned inauguration of the visitation panel to the university, which was set up by the visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari.

The panel is expected to review the controversies rocking the university, including a report that indicted the embattled vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, of “financial recklessness, gross misconduct,” among other allegations.

Meanwhile, the ministry has also formally notified the National Universities Commission (NUC) of the directives of the president, and urged the regulatory body to make arrangements for the inauguration of the panel ahead of Wednesday, including provision of accommodation for nominated members who are based outside Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

A letter addressed to the executive secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, and referenced; FME/PS/606/CI/III/128, directed the commission to give effect to the president’s directives “and ensure strict compliance.”

The letter, a copy of which this newspaper obtained, is entitled; “Re: Special Visitation Panel to University of Lagos.” It reads in part; “The registrar/secretary to the senate as well as the council should immediately should immediately convene the meetings of the two (2) organs of the university to nominate and confirm the appointment of an acting vice chancellor, respectively; and

“The acting vice-chancellor shall oversee the affairs of the university pending government’s decision on the report of the special visitation panel.”

Meanwhile, the NUC, in response to the directive, on Friday, notified the university’s registrar, Oladejo Azeez, of the development via a letter with reference, NUC/ES/134/VOL.24/432, and entitled; ““Re: Special Visitation Panel to University of Lagos.”


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NUC requested the registrar to “honour and ensure full compliance with the directives of the visitor, as appropriate.”

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SSANU kicks against recommendations

Meanwhile, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has criticised the president’s recommendations for resolving the crisis at UniLag.

In a letter addressed to the president on Monday and signed by its national president, Samson Ugwoke, the union said the composition of the seven-member visitation panel does not give hope for a fair judgement.

The letter, a copy of which PREMIUM TIMES obtained, is titled; “Observations on the Visitor’s Directives Setting up a Special Visitation Panel at the University of Lagos and Ordering of a Special Senate Meeting of the University: A Call for Review.”

SSANU said the panel, whose members are mostly drawn from the academia, including retired vice-chancellors, will allegedly favour the embattled vice-chancellor of the university, Mr Ogundipe.

It reads in part; “The composition of the Special Visitation Panel with a preponderance of Professors (ASUU members) is an indication that the decisions of the Panel would be tampered with by ASUU. The fact that they are former Vice- Chancellors also implies the tendency to protect one of their own – an embattled Vice-Chancellor.”

The union, therefore, called for recomposition of the membership of the panel, suggesting retired registrars, retired bursars to be co-opted, and that it should be chaired by a prominent Nigerian of integrity.



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