For the umpteenth time, the authorities of the Lagos State University (LASU) have faulted the report of age falsification levelled against the former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and a Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola.
An online media outfit had alleged that Okebukola, a Professor of Science Education at the university falsified his birthday in the age submittedto Lagos State University, contrary to employment law. But, the university in a release said the allegation of age falsification as claimed by the online media in its report is entirely a falsehood.
According to the online media in its claim, Okebukola recorded his date of birth as February 17, 1949, when he was employed by the Lagos State University in 1984, and thus by this, the don would have retired on age grounds in 2014.
In the report, the online media further alleged that Okebukola later change birth date twice, to prolong his stay in the system, saying: “At different times, Okebukola gave his birth dates as February 17, 1948; February 17, 1949 and February 17, 1951.This action, classified among Serious Acts of Misconduct under the LASU 2017 reviewed conditions of service booklet, attracts outright dismissal as punishment.”
But, the university in a statement issued by the Coordinator, Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Ademola Adekoya, said that there was no ambiguity in Prof. Okebukola’s birth date with the university.
The statement said: “Attention of the Lagos State University management has been drawn to a publication released by the online media (name withheld) with respect to a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and an academic member of staff of the university, Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola. The publica- tion bothers around multiple dates of births and retirement status of the renowned Professor.
“The Lagos State University management is without doubt one that abides strictly with the rule of law, statutesand conditions of service guiding operations of the university. In order to clear the ambiguity in the publication referred to above, the university management is hereby informingthe generalpublicthat Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola is a bonafide academic memberof staff of the university.” Okebukola, the former Executive Secretary of NUC, is the Director of Africa Centre of Excellence at LASU and also Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
According to Adekoya, Okebukola joined the service of Lagos State University transferring his service from the then Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa and the date of birth on his Record of Service forwarded to the university by his former employer is 15th February, 1951. The university is bound to stand by that date because the Record of Service is the officially recognised record of his past service.
“The affirmation of the Date of Birth of Professor Okebukola in the Record of Service forwarded to the university by the Oyo State College of Education, Ilesa confirmed the assertion by Professor Okebukola that he was born on 17th February, 1951,” the statement added.
The university, which reiterated that there was no ambiguity of any form in the date of birth or the retirement status of Prof. Okebukola as in his record with the LASU or with any known institution, insisted that without doubt the institution is adhering strictly to the rule of law, statutes and conditions of service guiding operations of the university.
LASU said: “So, the university is bound to stand by that date because the Record of Service is the officially recognised record of his past service and also confirmation of the assertion by Professor Okebukola that he was born on 17th February, 1951. So, we don’t know the ambiguity in that to warrant the false report by the media organisation.”
He said though, based on the foregoing and in compliance with the law and subsisting Conditions of Service guiding senior members of staff of the university as at 2015, Professor Okebukola was due for retirement on the 17th February 2016, being the date he attained the age of 65 years, the new law promulgated by the Lagos State Government on 5th of January, 2016, extending the retirement age of professors in academic circle to 70 years and other lecturers less professorial cadre and nonlecturers to 65 years from 60 years as applicable in other universities nationwide changed the projection in Okebukola’s favour. Adekoya explained further that Prof. Okebukola was captured by the provisions of the new law and that apart from him, five other academic and 20 non-academic members of staff of the university, including those on terminal leave at the period were also beneficiaries of the new law.
The online media is also challenging the integrity of Prof. Okebukola, as the Chairman of Council of NOUN to midwife the process of appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor for the Open Distance Learning (ODL) institution.” Meanwhile, on conferment of Distinguished Professor on Okebukola by LASU, which the same online newspaper claimed was a sole decision of the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Lanre Fagbohun, the university said such claim was another falsehood being spread by the newspaper.
According to Adekoya, no Vice- Chancellor of any university including LASU has a unilateral power to confer on any individual the rank of Distinguished Professor. He noted: “It was the university Senate in the exercise of its powers as provided in Section 9:2(f) LASU Law 2004 (as amended) that recommended to the Governing Council, the conferment of the rank on Professor Peter Okebukola, hence the approval.”