By Adesina Wahab
Folasade Ogunsola, a Professor of Medical Microbiology, was on Monday elected the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, by the Senate of the institution.
Ogunsola, until her election as the Acting VC, was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services and she defeated her counterpart, Prof Ben Oghojafor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Management Services.
Ogundipe scored 135 votes, while Oghojafor scored 31 votes, with one vote voided.
One hundred and sixty- seven members of the Senate took part in the exercise.
The Emergency Senate Meeting was presided over by Prof. Chioma Agomo, the former Dean, Faculty of Law, while the Director of Academic Affairs, Mrs Ola Makinde, served as the electoral officer.
Makinde was the one who took attendance of the Senate members as they entered the Prof. J. F Ade-Ajayi Auditorium, venue of the meeting and she later called out the members to vote according to how they registered their names.
The third DVC, Prof. Oluwole Familoni, DVC, Academic and Research, could not seek election because his tenure has lapsed and a replacement has not been appointed.
Senate Emergency Chairman on meeting
Agomo, while speaking with the press shortly after the meeting, said it was done in accordance with the laws and regulations governing the university.
“The Senate Emergency Committee met today and we have just conducted the election of our Acting Vice-Chancellor in line with the directive by the Federal Government. We followed due process because that is what we have insisted on,” she said.
On how long the acting VC would be in the office, Agomo said going by the directive by the government, it could be until when the Visitation Panel completes its assignment.
Reaction of ASUU
The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, UNILAG chapter, Dr Dele Ashiru, said with the development, calm has been restored to the university.
“We are now awaiting the Visitation Panel believing that all parties concerned will have a day with justice,” he stated.
Reacting to the initial locking up of the venue for the meeting on the directive of the University Registrar, Oladejo Azeez, the ASUU chairman described the incident as very unfortunate.
“It was unfortunate that the auditorium was locked up and it was a manifestation of crudity and recklessness that characterise Babalakin’s leadership. No principal officer of the university should have the temerity to trample on the Senate of the university as it has been brazenly done this morning by the university registrar.
“Our union is for due process and when eventually a case is established against him, we would want appropriate sanctions to be meted out,” he noted.
Mild drama before meeting
UNILAG: How memo almost stalled Senate meeting
The meeting was almost stalled by a directive by the Registrar, Mr Oladejo Azeez, that no auditorium should be made available for the members to use for their meeting.
In the memo, dated August 24, 2020, and directed to the Head, Auditoria Management Unit, J. F Ade-Ajayi Auditorium, titled, Re: Notice to Senate Meetings,” Azeez, directed the Auditoria Management Unit not to make any auditorium available for the members of Senate.
“The above matter refers, please note the message contained below has been sent to Senate members.
“This is to inform all Senate members that no meeting of Senate has been summoned. Members should await proper Notice of Meeting after the Federal Government of Nigeria has clarified some issues germane to the meeting.
“It follows that you are not to make any of your facilities available for any meeting until otherwise advised,” the memo read.
However, despite the memo, members of the Senate were allowed in when workers in charge of the auditorium came to open the place.
The Senate meeting was shifted to the auditorium because the Senate Chamber in the Senate Building is not big enough to accommodate them.
Background to crisis
Recall that the Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin, SAN, and the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, have been at loggerheads over the running of the university.
The face-off led to the suspension of the Convocation Ceremonies early this year and it culminated in the removal of Ogundipe from office by the Council penultimate Wednesday.
The Council appointed an acting VC in the person of Prof. Omololu Soyombo, an action that led to protest by some stakeholders.
The government eventually waded in last Friday and asked both Ogundipe and Babalakin to step aside, while a Visitation Panel was set up to probe the affairs of the university from 2017 till date.
The panel is headed by Prof. Tukur Saa’d, and will be inaugurated on Wednesday by the Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, in Abuja.
It has two weeks to complete its assignment.