Gabriel Dike, Lagos
Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Omololu Soyombo, stepped down on Saturday as the helmsman of the 58-year-old institution.
Prof Soyombo was appointed acting VC by Dr Wale Babalakin-led Governing Council on Wednesday, August 12. The council had earlier removed Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as VC on the same day.
On August 13, the four staff unions – Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association Academics of Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) – rejected the decision of the governing council on the ground that it did not follow due process and staged a protest.
In a statement personally signed by Prof Soyombo on Saturday, August 22, he said the news of the setting up of a Special Visitation Panel to UNILAG by the Federal Government was received in the evening of Friday, August 21, and the government also directed the university Senate to nominate an acting VC for the institution for confirmation by the governing council.
‘With this, I am stepping down, with immediate effect, as acting vice-chancellor of the university,’ he said.
‘I wish to express my sincere appreciation to all members of staff and our dear students, the staff unions, alumni and the general public for their wonderful support and cooperation in the past ten days since my appointment as acting VC of the university on 12th August 2020.
‘As I noted in my address to a cross-section of staff on 19th August 2020, I accepted the offer to serve as a call to service, with the objective of restoring peace and stability in the university.
‘It is my prayer that the peace and stability that we so much need and desire at this time be restored very quickly so that the University of Lagos can continue to march on as the University of First Choice and the Nation’s Pride. I urge all our staff and students to continue to go about their lawful activities in a peaceful manner.’
Reacting to the development, ASUU UNILAG chairman Dr Dele Ashiru said Prof Soyombo was a ‘product of illegality’ by the governing council chairman, Dr Babalakin, and that his appointment is not known to the law establishing the university.
According to him, Soyombo’s claim to have stepped down is a facing saving tactic that is known only to those who appointed him illegally.
‘Stepping down from which office? He was a product of illegality. He should come to terms with the fact in the law, the so-called appointment never existed,’ he said.