The Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, on Thursday, said that the management of the institution remained committed to working for and maintaining peaceful coexistence among staff members.
Ogundipe spoke shortly after his arrival from Abuja, to a jubilant crowd that had besieged the institution’s main gate.
The university community was agog as members trooped out in their numbers to welcome the reinstated vice-chancellor back to the office.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, had, on Wednesday, announced the reinstatement of Ogundipe as the vice-chancellor of the university after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the report of a Special Visitation Panel.
The panel was set up by the Federal Government to investigate the crisis that had rocked the institution, which had earlier led to Ogundipe’s removal as vice-chancellor.
The report approved by President Buhari, however, stated that the removal of Ogundipe by the Dr. Wale Babalakin-led Governing Council did not follow due process, leading to his reinstatement.
Babalakin had since resigned from his appointment.
Addressing the crowd, Ogundipe commended the Federal Government for its timely intervention in ensuring that peace was restored as quickly as possible in the university.
”Let me start by saying a big thank you to the visitor of this university, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Executive Secretary, NUC.
”I also want to thank all the various labour unions of this university, they have been wonderful. I also thank every member of this university community. It has not been by my power, nor by might, but by the spirit of the Almighty.
”I said something some months ago. I said let there be peace, for our strength in UNILAG is in that peace. Some of us who are working here have put at least five years in this our dear institution. It means you have invested five years here.
”It means that you want the progress of this university and therefore, I am pleading with every one of us, let us fight for that peace and progress of this university.
”We can only achieve this by uniting and working collectively; we can do it, and by doing this, we will take this university to its much-deserved height,” he said.
According to him, the call for peaceful coexistence is not about the academic and the nonteaching staff; it is about UNILAG.
”I want to assure you that we will do everything possible from our own side as management to ensure that we support the staff and I want to renew my commitment to UNILAG.
”I have put in over 30 years in the system, so I want to call on everyone to join hands with this management to work together to continue to ensure that our university remains globally competitive.
”Our commitment must be moving this university forward. We may have our differences, but we must strive to put that aside, unite and take this university to its place of priority,” Ogundipe said.
Also speaking, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola, immediate past acting Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services, said the ceremony was historic.
She commended the Federal Government for its prompt intervention in restoring peace in the institution.
”Today is a day of victory, a day that we celebrate the university system, a day for introspection.
”Why did it happen? It will not happen again. Today is a day we recognise that like the broom you are holding, together we stand and divided we fall. There is no problem within the university that we cannot solve.
”We should not externalise our problems. Today, we welcome back our vice-chancellor and we recognise that despite all the problems, the truth has finally come to bear.
”We also recognise today that no one person is bigger than this our dear institution, and with this, I formally hand over the administration of this institution to the rightful person, the vice-chancellor.
“Let him carry his calabash,” she joked.
On his part, Dr. Dele Ashiru, the institution’s Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), said the victory was neither for ASUU, nor any of the unions, but rather, a victory for the entire members of the university community.
”We have shown that by our collective resolve, there is nothing that is unattainable.
” I want you to put this ugly incident behind, confine it in the annals of history.
”You can see some of our people holding brooms. Today, we are sweeping impunity, tyranny, dictatorship, and divisiveness out of our university.
“And after doing this, it is our conviction that our university is going to be in peace and we will return to the path of progress for which the institution is renowned,” the unionist said.
Mr. Lawal Sulyman, Chairman, National Association of Academic Technologists ( NAAT) of the university, on his part, said the dust had been raised and had also settled down.
According to him, the rains have come to wash away all forms of instability on the campus.
”Today, we give God all the glory,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the high point of the event was the handing over of the administrative documents by Ogunsola to the reinstated vice-chancellor, Ogundipe.