By Frank Ikpefan, Abuja
The Federal Government has said President Muhammadu Buhari as visitor to the University of Lagos (UNILAG) will not interfere or influence the work of the Special Presidential Visitation Panel he set up to probe the removal of the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
Prof Ogundipe was removed from office by the Wale Babalakin-led Governing Council over allegations of financial infractions and others.
On Saturday last week, the president announced the setting up of a special panel to look into the processes leading to the removal of Ogundipe and subsequently asked Babalakin, who was the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council and the former vice-chancellor to step aside until investigation was concluded.
President Buhari, the government noted, has no personal interest other than that of the university.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said this during the inauguration of the seven-member panel looking into the removal of Ogundipe from office by the Governing Council of the university.
The special presidential visitation panel, which is chaired by Prof Tukur Sa’ad, has two weeks to complete its assignment and submit a report to the federal government.
Adamu advised the panel chairman to focus its probe only on the issue of the crisis rocking the university.
He said the Federal Ministry of Education over the past one year, had been inundated with complaints and correspondences from the management and the governing council of the university as well as the National Assembly, on lingering governance issues in the institution, including allegations of financial infractions and breach of responsibilities.
He said: “I will like to assure the chairman of the panel that in this case there will be no influence on you or UNILAG by the visitor and I also assure you that the visitation is only on the issue of the crisis in UNILAG.
“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 Professor 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 the decision of council to remove Ogundipe from office further opened up a plethora of accusations and counter-accusations.
He appealed to stakeholders in the university to fully cooperate with the panel and to allow it to work unhindered.
“It is instructive to note that the decision of Council, instead of stabilising the University of Lagos, only managed to open up a plethora of accusations and counter-accusations.
“Due process was alleged not to have been followed in the removal and appointment of the vice-chancellor and the acting vice-chancellor, respectively.
“This led to the widespread protests, outright rejection and lack of acceptability of the acting vice-chancellor by the university community,” the minister stated.
Chairman of the panel, Prof Sahad, thanked the minister for finding the members of the committee worthy of carrying out the national assignment.
He said the panel will put in its best to ensure the resolution of the crisis rocking the university while calling on the university’s governing council as well as Senate to give them full cooperation in the course of discharging their duties.