Gabriel Dike, Lagos
Eighty-two days after the Federal Government asked him to step aside to allow for investigations into the crisis that rocked the University of Lagos (UNILAG), the reinstated Vice Chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, yesterday resumed work amid fun fare.
The acting Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof Folasade Ogunsola, handed over to Prof Ogundipe on the 11th floor of Senate Building and the brief ceremony was witnessed by few management staff and his wife, Mrs Oluwaseun Ogundipe.
Prof Ogundipe and Mr Wale Babalakin, the then Chairman, Governing Council of UNILAG, were asked by the Presidency to step aside and allow the Special Invitation Panel to look into the crisis that engulfed the university. Same day the report was submitted to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Babalakin resigned his appointment.
On Wednesday, November 11, President Muhammadu Buhari based on the white report of the special invitation panel reinstated Prof Ogundipe and dissolved the governing council.
As early as 8.30 am, workers of UNILAG gathered at the main gate to welcome Prof Ogundipe back on campus. The workers amid sining and dancing, escorted the VC from the gate to the Council Chambers.
At the Council Chambers, the staff unions described the reinstatement of Prof Ogundipe as a victory for the university system, integrity and justice. They commended President Buhari and the education minister for acting on the recommendations of the special visitation panel.
Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNILAG branch, thanked President Buhari for standing on the path of truth and stressed that UNILAG will come of the crisis stronger and united than before.
Leaders of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association Academics of Technologists (NAAT) and Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) thanked God for his intervention and pledged to work with Prof Ogundipe’s administration to move the university forward.
The acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof Folasade Ogunsola, lauded the Federal Government for doing the right thing and described Ogundipe’s reinstatement as victory for university autonomy, adding: ‘Today is a day of celebration for victory and the crisis will never happen again.’
While handing to Prof Ogundipe, the outgoing Acting VC said nobody sat on his seat throughout the crisis and that the reinstated VC will remain on the seat until the end of his tenure.
Addressing workers at the Council Chambers, Prof Ogundipe, thanked President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, UNILAG Alumni Association and stakeholders for standing on the path of fairness and justice.
‘The crisis is not about me but about UNILAG. Let us embrace peace, our strength is in the peace we enjoy in UNILAG. Let us unite and work for the progress of the university. I have put in over 30 years in UNILAG and will continue to give my quota to ensure we remain the best in the country,’ he said.
Ogundipe lauded the acting VC, Prof Ogunsola for holding forth, adding, ‘people thought they can divide us, she has done well in my absence. She is somebody one can relay on. The Senate of UNILAG has proved themselves as the best Senate in the university system.’
Registrar of UNILAG and Secretary to council, Mr. Oladejo Azeez, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management Services), Prof Emukufia Oghojar, and some management staff were absence at the ceremony to welcome the reinstated VC, Prof Ogundipe.