Controversy has trailed the removal of Michael Ologunde as the Vice-Chancellor of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, by the Oyo State government.
Mr Ologunde was asked to ‘step aside’ last Friday by Governor Seyi Makinde over reasons not stated in a letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
The governor in the letter signed by the state’s commissioner for education, science and technology, Olasunkanmi Olaleye, urged the VC to hand over to the principal officer next to his rank.
“His Excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde, the Governor of Oyo State and the visitor to the Ladoke Akintola University, has directed that the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. M. O. Ologunde should step aside until further notice.
“Consequently, the VC has also been directed to hand over forthwith to the next principal officer in rank in order to ensure uninterrupted flow of normal activities of the institution,” the letter read.
While the government failed to explain the reason for Mr Ologunde’s removal, sources told PREMIUM TIMES that the VC allegedly instigated the university’s staff to agitate for the payment of their unpaid salaries.
“Makinde saw the VC as an enemy of his administration for instigating university workers to protest and demand payment of outstanding salaries immediately after the crisis in the school was resolved.
“Recall that the Osun government no longer has a say on the school and Makinde is just trying to ensure that things are in order in LAUTECH but felt betrayed by the VC.”
Speaking to The Nation newspaper on Mr Ologunde’s removal, the state’s commissioner for education, said ”the state has its reasons.”
“The Governor only directed the embattled VC to step aside, he was not sacked, our reason for not disclosing details of the allegations in our press release was deliberate,” he told The Nation newspaper on Monday.
“We cannot say because the Governing Council is yet to resume then we will look the other way and allow the institution suffer, that was why he was directed to step aside pending investigations into allegations levelled against him, and in due time, the Governing Council will act based on revelations from their investigations.
“We are not unmindful of the establishment laws of the institution and we have not acted outside of our powers as government, so it is not a vendetta against the former VC.”
Mr Ologunde did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES calls and text messages seeking to know his offences and clarification.
Meanwhile, the governor’s decision has triggered reactions from various unions on campus. The unions urged the governor to reverse his decision.
PREMIUM TIMES understands that by the university’s autonomy law which has been domesticated across state universities, the Visitor lacks the power to remove a vice-chancellor.
The power to suspend or remove a vice-chancellor resides in the governing council of the University who will recommend such to the visitor.
The Governing Council is empowered to recruit, discipline and sack a VC and other principal officers. In the absence of Governing Council (like LAUTECH), the Senate of the university takes charge.
When confronted with this, Taiwo Adisa, the chief press secretary to Mr Makinde, defended his principal’s action.
“There is no confusion as to who the Visitor is. The Visitor is the head of the governing council. The governing council acts on behalf of the Visitor and in LAUTECH, there is no governing council. The VC has not been sacked but was simply asked to step aside.
“The visitor takes over the affairs of LAUTECH to strengthen things. There is nothing that says the Visitor is powerless as a governor.”
Asked why the VC was asked to ‘step aside’, he simply said: “his offences are not meant for public consumption. He knows what he did wrong.”
University unions kick
Following this development, the Chair of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in LAUTECH, Biodun Olaniran, in a statement on Monday, expressed the union’s displeasure over the removal.
The union said Mr Makinde violated the provisions of the University Miscellaneous Act as amended, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Law 2020 and the ‘university conventions’.
“(ii)that if there is any perceived misdemeanour on the part of any officer appointed by the law in the University, due process according to the law must be followed to address such.
“(iii)that the Union acknowledges the power of the Visitor to hire and fire on one part and that such power is premised on the recommendation of the Governing Council according to the extant laws;
“(iv) that as at today, the Governing Council has not been properly constituted in line with law of the university.
“Our union, therefore, requests that, to maintain industrial harmony on campus and the on-going restoration of the image of the university, the above resolutions should be considered with the necessary urgency,” ASUU said.
In a similar statement, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) in the institution, warned that the governor must allow due process and obey the rule of law.
“Professor Ologunde is a product of the Governing Council as the Vice Chancellor and the Council should be allowed to determine whether he should step aside or not through fair hearing especially as no allegation was levelled against him in the said memo written by the Commissioner,” Sanusi Wasiu, NAAT chairman noted.
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) chair in the school, Fajoye Oyelere, also said in his statement that “the “step aside” directive is considered “hasty, cumbersome and incongruous to the order that brought in the current principal officers of the university on February 14, 2019, and should be reversed in the name of equity, fairness and good conscience”.
“We would like to remind His Excellency, Engineer Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde that on Saturday, February 20, 2021, on a live radio program anchored by the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State(BCOS), he informed the whole world that he heard on a good note that the Vice Chancellor incited the Unions on campus to go on strike to demand for the payment of their eight months outstanding salaries and allowances having paid eight billion naira to Osun State on the separation of joint ownership.
“Our Union is not interested in who becomes the Vice-Chancellor beyond the fact that we lobbied the last Governing Council to consider and give us a homegrown Chief Executive Officer of the University after more than 25 years of existence.
“Professor Ologunde can be removed by the Governing Council but not by the Visitor or his proxy. Even at that, his offense must be properly stated and investigated where he will be given an opportunity to present his case to the extent of being represented by a lawyer of his choice if need be. He is not a direct appointee of the Governor if we will like the rule of law to prevail.
“SSANU will not want a confused situation where legal turmoil and civil unrest will be unnecessarily unleashed within the university community.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...