UNILAG: Why I Resigned As Pro-Chancellor – Babalakin

Dr Wale Babalakin

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, the University of Lagos, Dr. Babawale Babalakin, has given reasons for resigning his appointment.

His resignation came few hours after the Special Visitation Panel set up by the Federal Government to look into the affairs of the university submitted its report to the Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu, in Abuja.

In a letter of resignation dated 15th of September and addressed to  Adamu, the Minister of Education,  Babalakin said the membership of the Visitation Panel was simply inappropriate in the circumstance.

He wondered how  a committee of Vice-Chancellors should  determine the culpability or otherwise of the actions of a Pro-Chancellor and a Governing Council, noting that “On the face of it, it is simply wrong!.”

He explained that the vice-chancellors on the panel were drawn from relatively smaller universities who are not likely to have a comprehensive understanding of the procedure contained in the University of Lagos Act (as amended).

“Even Vice-Chancellors of state universities were included. As Chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team, I know the challenges faced with the administration of state universities,” he noted.

The Babalakin-led council had removed Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the vice-chancellor of the university, an action that led to several protests by unions and senate members of the institution who alleged that the removal of the VC did not follow due process.

But insisting that the removal of  Ogundipe was properly done, he said, “It is noteworthy that all the Federal Government Representatives who are the independent members on the Governing Council voted for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor.”

The letter further read,  “After calm had been restored in the University, the Visitor acting within his powers, set up a Presidential Visitation Panel to review the actions taken by Governing Council. The Vice-Chancellor (who had been removed from office) and myself were told to recuse ourselves for the duration of the Visitation Panel. I find it difficult to understand how a non-executive Chairman of a Governing Council could be requested to recuse himself during the visitation.

“The Vice-Chancellor could only recuse himself if he were still in office. Implicit in this position is that the Vice-Chancellor was acknowledged as still being in office despite his removal.

“ The terms of reference of the Visitation Panel clearly indicated to any discerning person that the Visitation Panel was empanelled to exonerate the Vice-Chancellor and implicate the Pro-Chancellor.

“I only appeared before the Panel out of my very great respect for you, Sir. My training as a lawyer revealed to me very clearly, that the Panel was inappropriate for the assignment. During my appearance, I made it very clear that I was appearing in protest and the Panel, as constituted, could not determine the issues before it.

“The active participation of the staff of the Ministry of Education in the Panel and their contributions throughout the sittings especially the hounding of witnesses who came to testify against the Vice-Chancellor was enough to show very clearly that the technocrats in the Ministry had a defined agenda. Their obvious agenda was to humiliate the Governing Council. Sir, fortunately, there is a verbatim recording of the proceedings of the Visitation Panel, and you may wish to direct objective persons to listen to the recording.”

He thanked  President Muhammadu Buhari for giving him the opportunity to serve as the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (the “University”) from May 2017 till date.

“I am also grateful that I was considered fit to be the Chairman of the Federal Government Negotiation Team on the Agreement reached with university unions in 2009, from 6th January 2017 till date. I equally want to thank you, sir, for your role in recommending me to the President,” the letter read.

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