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LASU management denies gagging staff, or drifting towards authoritarianism

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By Adesina Wahab and Elizabeth Uwandu

The management of the Lagos State University, LASU, has denied reports in some online media that the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, is gagging staff and that his administration is drifting towards an authoritarian regime.LASU

In a statement by the Coordinator of the Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, Mr Ademola Adekoya, the school said the write up in some online media by one Adewale Agbaje entitled “Arresting the drift towards Authoritarianism” was a misrepresentation of facts and smacked of deliberate attempts to smear the image of the VC and the institution generally.

Adekoya noted that all that the writer mentioned were mere rehash of tales told earlier by some people that did not sell.

“Understandably, the sensationalism around the story has swayed some minds into believing, proliferating and thereby giving vent to the hatred induced, bile-laced article; discerning and fair minds have however approached the University pressing to know the other side of the story, the truth, in order to make informed judgment. To them, we address this position.

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“The Lagos State University disproves the sponsored post in its entirety as nothing but fabricated falsehood, and a lame attempt to derail the wheel of justice grinding in the University. We make bold to say that the hands of some errant erstwhile staff of the University, dismissed over the last two years, for various acts of misconducts, ranging from proven cases for sex for grade, cash for grade, thievery and gross indiscipline, are clearly all over this latest salvo, even while being promoted in the voice of ‘Adewale Agbaje’ a proverbial case of hand of Esau, Voice of Jacob.

“In the article, ‘Adewale Agbaje’ accused the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, SAN, whom he/she/they referred to throughout the article as ‘Dr. Fagbohun’, of authoritarian tendencies and leading a “University wholly permeated and bedeviled by ably small maladministration, corruption, naked violation of University principles and rights of workers”.

“They also accused the University management of gagging members of staff from speaking up, backdating of the Vice Chancellor’s Appointment as Professor and mismanaging Staff Pension Funds on accreditation-related purposes,” he said.

Explaining the issues one by one, Adekoya said, “To these allegations, we like to again place on record as follows:

“1.The first observation to a perceptive reader is that the piece is simply the tirade of an angry and indecorous party, this is neither a principled nor civilised grievance borne by concern for due process. The language is so uncouth; it calls to question the moral pedestal ‘Adewale Agbaje’ is standing on. This is a new low and nothing but a personal attack on the integrity of the institutions which produced Prof. Fagbohun, SAN, as Vice Chancellor and must be condemned by all.

“The writer(s) predicated the indiscretion on the backdating of the Vice Chancellor’s Professorship. We reiterate that the backdating of Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun’s Professorship, alongside those of others in 2014, was without the infraction of the laws of the University. Prof. Fagbohun’s promotion, was due in 2007/2008 but was not effected until 2014. In line with the council Approval, Prof. Fagbohun’s Promotion letter, issued in 2014, conveyed 2007/2008 as the effective promotion year. It should also be noted that backdating of promotions is a standard practice, one enjoyed by staff from time to time. A prominent example is the Professorial Chair endowed the Late Professor Abubakar Momoh in 2012 but with retroactive effect from 2005, when he was first due, this is common practice but where mischief is the intent, facts become inconsequential. The allegation is therefore misplaced and unfounded.

“2.The allegation that the University Authority is gagging members of staff betrays a deep ignorance for the working of the Public Institution like the University. The claim that Prof. Fagbohun, SAN, and the management forced members of the staff to Oath of Secrecy Form is also laughable.

“Signing an Oath of Secrecy Form is not a recent phenomenon in the University. As a matter of fact, Section 3.8.1 of the University Condition of Service mandates that an Oath of Secrecy Form be administered on all members of staff. It must also be stated that no member of staff has been forced to sign an Oath of Secrecy Form. If there is any administration tolerant of criticism, it is the current administration. When of all Unions of the University – NASU, SSANU, NAAT and even the Students’ Union, only a few individuals seizing the ASUU platform condemn the management of intolerance, then it leaves much to be desired.

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“3.On alleged mismanagement of pension funds.

Despite a series of well-documented rebuttal to the allegation of mismanagement of Staff Pension Fund including a well-attended Press conference by mainstream print and electronic media at which the University’s books were laid bare, these lies are being reiterated and made recalcitrant.

“We like to place on record once again that the 2018 accreditation exercise (under-reference) was funded using funds from the University’s Escrow Investment Account and not Staff Pension Fund. Indeed, the University has no access to this fund. Also, every item purchased, including Vehicles, was on the approval of the Governing Council and the full knowledge of the State Government. Evidences are available to this effect.

“In all, it is pertinent to state that Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun administration is one that promotes the unprecedented harmonious relationship between the management and all members of staff and students. It must also be stated that the drums of crisis being beaten is the handwork of a very few but vocal set of individuals who would stop at nothing to restore the Old order of indiscipline and crisis in Lagos State University. The media should not inadvertently abet this ignoble campaign. The new LASU brand is an open book and interested journalists are invited to make their professional investigations.

“The LASU Community is solidly mobilised behind the leadership of the incumbent management led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun, this explains the about four years unprecedented, seamless administrative and academic cycle the University has had. The questions to raise are the following:

“Why is it only a few executive members of ASUU, the only group of staff alleging gross maladministration in LASU?

“How mobilised are academic staff behind the ASUU-LASU EXCO?

“Could academic activities continue peacefully, if the sack of academic staff, indeed executive members of the academic union was unpopular?

“It is the illusion of the misled ASUU executives that the Union will always have its way and can dispatch Vice-Chancellors at will but the extant LASU situation has proven that good works count these executive members discountenance the fact ASUU prevails always only because its struggles are ever predicated on impeachable ethical, moral and professional grounds.

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“An innocuous visit by a neutral, fact-finding party will patently reveal the truth about LASU.

“It is on record that the leadership of all other Staff Unions have all exuberantly praised the efforts of the management to institute rule of law while promoting the welfare of staff and students.

“We conclude by saying that there is a new era of discipline and rule of law in Lagos State University and no smear campaign would hamper this drive. We enjoin all well-meaning stakeholders to partner with the new LASU.”

Vanguard

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