Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The silent fight between the management of the University of Lagos (Unilag) and the Governing Council of the university seems far from over as the fight that led to the cancellation of already planned convocation of the university appears to be raging.
Last week, the National Universities Commission (NUC), after communication from Unilag governing council, directed the management to suspend the planned convocation over alleged abuse of procedures and disregard to authorities of governing council of the university.
The pro-chancellor/chairman of council, Dr. Wale Babalakin, explained that his communication with NUC on March 2, 2020, necessitated the directive to Unilag vice-chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, which he obviously ignored and proceeded with the convocation activities.
The NUC directive was reportedly based on the exchange of correspondence between the chairman of council and the university vice-chancellor, regarding claims that management failed to obtain council’s approval for the convocation ceremonies.
The council, in a statement, on Tuesday, signed by Oladejo Azeez, claimed that the vice-chancellor allegedly abused procedures and outrightly disobeyed the instructions of the council, particularly as regards the conferment of honorary degrees and other activities lined up for the convocation.
It insisted that the university management allegedly violated the rules, regulations and law of the university regarding award of honorary degrees, particularly the alleged instances that the university treated honorary degrees as chieftaincy title that are, most times, given to the highest bidder.
It added: “The council, at its March special meeting, directed that it will only consider nominees for Honorary Degrees after receiving detailed presentation from management which will include; the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of the honourees, the recommendation of the honours committee of the Senate and the Senate itself as prescribed by the rules, regulations and law of the university.
“Regrettably, the management never complied with the directive. Neither memorandum nor supporting documents were presented to the council on the subject matter. Also, no council approval was given to the management for award of honorary doctorate degree.
“Council had, hitherto, expressed dissatisfaction to management about the manner honorary degrees were handled in 2018 convocation ceremonies, and had stressed specifically at its meeting of March 2019, as confirmed by minutes of the meeting, that management must provide all the relevant details of nominees for honorary awards to the Council early enough to enable Council deliberate properly on it.
“Council also cautioned that honourees must have made empirical contributions to the society, the nation or the world at large, insisting that honorary degrees would no longer be treated as a chieftaincy title that is given to the highest bidder.”
The council, however, made reference to audio recordings of the special meeting held on Tuesday, 21st January 2020, and Wednesday, 22 January 2020, to clarify claims by the vice-chancellor that the matter of the convocation activities were brought to council for approval.
It said: “The audio recording, the minutes of meetings as well as the agenda/notice of meeting expressly confirmed that the convocation budget was the only item that was formally brought to the January, 2020 special meeting.
“The council was also verbally informed of the proposed convocation lecture, while the convocation programme was never listed as item on the agenda of the special meeting of council and there were no supporting documents on the programme tabled during the January, 2020 special council meeting.”