The Academic Staff Union of Universities has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s dissolution of the governing council of the Obafemi Awolowo University following a leadership tussle in the institution in July.
ASUU said the dissolution of the council and the removal of Ayobami Salami as vice chancellor contravened an agreement reached between the union and the federal government.
The union’s position was based on the report of its visitation committee set up by its National Executive Council (NEC) and submitted at a meeting of the union at the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, last Friday.
The committee said the council, which was dissolved, was duly constituted and should not have been tampered with.
“The Governing Council followed the process of selection of Vice Chancellor to its conclusion,” it noted.
The committee also recommended the condemnation of the action by the national headquarters of ASUU stating that the action of President Buhari breached the university autonomy agreement reached between the federal government and ASUU.
The committee headed by the national vice president of ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke, had eight members, including two zonal coordinators and three immediate past zonal coordinators.
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU, had approached a Federal High Court in Osogbo in the wake of the crisis, demanding that the processes that led to the emergence of Mr. Salami as vice chancellor be discarded and deemed illegal.
The ensuing protests and legal battles led to the intervention of the federal government and subsequent dissolution of the institution’s governing council on July 1, 2016 after Mr. Salami was asked to step aside pending the determination of the suit at the court.
The Public Relations Officer of the University, Olanrewaju Abiodun, disagreed with ASUU, arguing that the institution is owned by the Federal Government.
“Federal Government owns the university and has the right to determine the vice chancellor of the university,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
“The same ASUU was in OAU when President Buhari ordered the appointment of an acting vice chancellor; only the federal government can determine who is the vice chancellor of the university”.
However, the Federal High Court Osogbo on October 10 transferred the case involving NASU and OAU to the National Industrial Court, Ibadan, after declaring that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
The decision by ASUU has pitched the other unions against it as NASU and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, have rejected the report and its recommendations.
NASU’s chairman, Wole Odewumi, said the decision of the Federal High Court in Osogbo was in the union’s favour, vowing to resist any effort to restore Mr. Salami as vice chancellor.
The Chairman of ASUU, OAU branch, Caleb Aborisade, said he would not add further comments on what had been stated in the report.
But his SSANU counterpart, Ademola Oketunde, rejected the report, saying ASUU had no right to determine who becomes vice chancellor of the institution.
“What right does ASUU have to say a particular Prof Salami should return as the vice chancellor? Are they the Federal Government?” he said.
“We would fight this to the last, I am daring ASUU national body, we also have national bodies. Obafemi Awolowo University cannot receive Prof. Salami again, we would rather fight it out. I am also a stakeholder in the university and the statement of ASUU holds no water.”
Another member of NASU who spoke under anonymity, said “Prof Salami can never set his foot on Obafemi Awolowo University Senate Building, we would rather shut down the University, it is impossible.”
Prof. Salami has however hailed the position of ASUU, saying he had been vindicated.
“I am still studying the decision ,I am studying it,” he said when asked by PREMIUM TIMES how he felt about the report of the visitation committee.