Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos branch, have accused the Pro-Chancellor of the university, Wale Babalakin, of overreaching his legal limits and trying to foster discord amongst the staff of the university.
According to a statement on Sunday morning signed by the coordinator of the Lagos Zone of ASUU, Olusiji Sowande, the union accused the pro-chancellor of dictatorial tendencies and of thinking himself to be the ‘Imperial Majesty’ of the university with no tolerance to divergent views.
The union, therefore, warned that whatever unrest comes from its resistance to the alleged oppression meted by the pro-chancellor should be blamed only on him.
“The University of Lagos has an enviable record of being the first university in Nigeria established by an act of parliament, in 1962. Ever since, the university has enjoyed unparalleled peace, harmony and tranquillity on account of successive administrators’ faithfulness and obedience to and respect for the time-tested tradition of total obedience to, and strict adherence to the rule and regulations establishing the University as enshrined in the statute. ”
“It is now becoming clear, very worrisome and agonizing that the recent activities of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University of Lagos Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin, SAN, manifests a reckless and flagrant erosion, undermining and total disregard not for only the extant tradition of the University but also for its statutes.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Pro-Chancellor activities since assumption of office are best described as autocratic, meddlesome and dictatorial. For example, he not only brooks no opposition during Council meetings because of his over bloated sense of personal importance and intellectual capability. He acted like an obsessed Imperial Majesty by ordering the reinstatement of the Director of Sports, contrary to the recommendation of a Senate Committee set up to investigate the various cases of malfeasance against the Director of Sports.
“In addition, the Pro-Chancellor tyrannically ordered the seal off of an apartment allocated to the immediate past Registrar of the University, without any humane consideration for the family of that person, who has right to respect for his person and family. ”
“Contrary to extant laws and established traditions of the University, the Pro-Chancellor illegally called a “town hall meeting ” on the 26th of September 2018 with the Non-academic Staff of the University and on the same day overreached his mandate and legal limits as a political appointee by addressing the University Senate in violation of the academic autonomy of the university. All this was done to satisfy his vainglorious desire to create disaffection and dominate, using the divide and rule tactic within the University community. ”
“The latest in the Pro-Chancellor antics is his letter to Dean’s and Heads of Departments inviting them for a meeting on the 11th of December 2018. This represents another violation of the University norm and a rabid desire to scuttle the ongoing strike action by our union. This meeting is calculated at instigating disaffection, division, discord and disharmony amongst the generality of Staff in the University. This is, to say the least, undignifying of a Pro-Chancellor in the University that is often touted as the “University of First Choice and the Nations Pride”.”
“In view of the foregoing illegal and untoward activities of an individual whose professional calling is the defense of law and order, but who has suddenly turned a meddlesome interloper, an unrepentant lawbreaker, who lacks the value of intellectual humility and respect for contending views, our union wishes to put the general public and well-meaning Nigerians on notice that the continuation of Dr Wale Babalakin as the Pro-Chancellor represents present and future danger to the existence of the University of Lagos. Our union shall vehemently resist this real threat to the well-being of our university. ”
“Consequently, should there be a breakdown of law and order on account of our resistance in the University of Lagos, whether now or in the foreseeable future, the pro-chancellor and chairman governing council, Dr Wale Babalakin San, should be held singularly and squarely responsible. ”
In his reaction to the allegations, Mr Babalakin hinted that he has acted within the laws that set up the university.
“I will expect you to insist on being provided with evidence before you make any allegation. Please get back to those who made the statement to verify it. It is also important that they avail you with the laws of the university. Once you have done these things, I will be in a position to respond to your questions,” the lawyer said in a short message in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The story was updated with the response to Wale Babalakin to the allegations).