…says varsity law should be respected
Former Executive Secretary of the National Unive r s i t i e s Commission (NUC) and a Distinguished Professor of Science and Computer Education at the Lagos State University (LASU), Peter Okebukola, has commended the intervention of the Federal Government in the University of Lagos (UNILAG) crisis, describing as a “soothing balm.”
Okebukola, who expressed regret over the lingering crisis, said: “My heart had ached for several months when the embers of discord were stoked, and efforts made to resolve the issues failed.”
Speaking against the backdrop of the crisis leading to the sacking of the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe by the Governing Council-led by Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), the Chairman of Council and Pro-Chancellor, he noted that the government acted well in setting up of a Special Presidential Visitation Panel to look into the causes of the crisis with a view to resolving it.
“My scan of the reactions by Nigerians and members of the international academic community shows many heaving a sigh of relief and appreciating this presidential action,” Okebukola added, saying that looking at the composition of the panel and based on the track record of the chairman and members, he is confident that a good job will be done by the panel in discharging its terms of reference.
On the way forward to attaining lasting peace in UNILAG and other Nigerian universities, Okebukola, the current Chairman of Council of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), said that the answer lies in abiding strictly with the provisions of the law of the university and of the country as to stray off the law would further sinking the institutions.
While reiterating the role of the Council in the administration of the university system to forestall leadership crisis in the future, the don noted that such role had already been clearly defined in university laws and as exemplified in his book “Exemplary Practices of University Councils,” which summarises the provisions of laws governing federal universities in Nigeria.
According to him, the law specified that Council shall be the governing body of the university and shall be charged with the general control and superintendence of the policy, finances and property of the university, including its public relations. “Council shall make all appointments except the appointment of the Chancellor and Pro- Chancellor.
Council shall regulate the salaries and determine the conditions of service of all staff employed by the university,” Okebukola added.
However, he stressed that since the law is an ass, it is implicit in this statement that the human element is important in the application of laws.
“To forestall this kind of leadership crisis in the future in the University of Lagos or any other university, we should learn to ride this ass with tolerance without breaking the back of the ass,” the don added.