Written by Godfrey AKON

UniLag: FG’s visitation panel to sanction erring officials

The Federal Government has mandated its 7-man special visitation panel to the University of Lagos, UniLag, to probe the process that led to the ouster of the former Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogunndipe, and recommend sanctions for anyone culpable of allegations contained in the panel's report.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who gave the directive while inaugurating the panel in Abuja, said it will examine the steps taken by the UniLag council leading to the removal of Ogundipe, and ascertain whether due process was followed as stipulated in the Universities, Miscellaneous Provisions, Amendment Act 2003.
Adamu said the panel was constituted and approved by the visitor of the university, President Muhammadu Buhari, to tackle the crisis and make recommendations that will restore the institution to its pride of place.
According to him, "Over the past one year, the ministry has been inundated with complaints and Correspondences from the management and the governing council of the University of Lagos as well as the National Assembly, on lingering governance issues in the institution, including allegations of financial infractions and breach of responsibilities. 
"The face-off has lingered on unabated, in spite of several interventions by the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education, many stakeholders and the National Universities Commission (NUC), eventually leading to the removal of Profess or Oluwatoyin Temitayo Ogundipe as vice-chancellor by the University Governing Council during its meeting of Wednesday, 12th August 2020. The council thereafter appointed an acting vice-chancellor to fill the void."
The minister noted that instead of the council's decision to stabilise the University of Lagos, it only managed to open up a plethora of accusations and counter-accusations. 
He said due process was alleged not to have been followed in the removal and appointment of the vice-chancellor and the acting vice-chancellor, respectively, adding that this led to the widespread protests, outright rejection and lack of acceptability of the acting vice-chancellor by the university community.
While assuring that government will not interfere in the activities of the panel, Adamu said both chairman and members of the panel were carefully selected in recognition of their integrity, track records and antecedents in university management and leadership.
He therefore charged them "to view the report of the Council Sub-Committee on Review of the expenditure of the University of Lagos since May, 2017 and make appropriate recommendations, after affording all those indicted an opportunity to defend themselves."
Other terms of reference for the panel are: "To determine whether the process (if any) leading to the appointment of the acting vice-chancellor for the university was consistent with the provisions of the enabling Act.
"To make any recommendations that will assist government to take decisions that will ensure peaceful, stable and effective administration of the university."
Members of the panel chaired by Prof Tukur Sa'ad include Barrister Victor Onuoha, Prof Ikenna Onyido, Prof Ekanem Braide, Prof Adamu K Usman, Chief Jimoh Bankole, and Barrister Grace Ekanem.
Responding, the Chairman of the Panel, Sa'ad, a former Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Technology, FUT, Minna, assured that the panel will work hard to come up with what will move the university forward.
He however asked for more time for the panel to enable aggrieved unions, council members and the university administrators to make their inputs and to adequately address the concerns raised in the petitions.
He noted that the panel needs more time to allow stakeholders vent their misgivings as tempers are currently high.


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