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Revealed: How Babalakin forced UNILAG to suspend 51st Convocation

The University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter of the the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has revealed how the University Pro- chancellor, Wale Babalakin forced the management of Unilag to postpone 51st Convocation.

The Unilag Management has slated the convocation to begin from March 9 to 12.

But, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu had asked the institution to suspend the ceremony after Wale Babalakin, chairman of the governing council of the university, said the management did not follow due process before reaching its decision.

It was gathered that Babalakin was said to have disagreed with the management over the choice of the convocation lecturer who was slated to be Isa Pantami, minister of communication and digital economy.

The chairman of the governing council was said to have preferred a former president of Ghana as the convocation lecturer.

In a statement on Friday, chairman of ASUU UNILAG, Dele Ashiru described the suspension as inhuman and wicked.

Ashiru said,“Preliminary investigations by our Union reveal that the postponement was occasioned by the Pro-Chancellor’s unilateral complaint to the Ministry of Education that the 2019 convocation ceremonies were not approved by Council contrary to available evidence.

“Our Union therefore condemns in the strongest terms this wicked, inhuman, egoistic, retrogressive, unconscionable and satanic postponement of this historic convocation ceremonies on account of the over bloated ego of the Pro-Chancellor.

“This latest antics of the Pro-Chancellor has further confirmed our age-long fears about the destructive machinations of the Pro-Chancellor in the University of Lagos in particular and the entire Nigerian University system in general.

“Otherwise, how else can one explain the role of the Pro-Chancellor in the calamitous postponement of a convocation ceremony without any consideration for the psychological trauma this may cause the graduands, their parents, relatives, the image and reputation of the University. This is apart from the huge human, material and financial resources that have been committed to planning the ceremony.

“That the Ministry of Education could by fiat request the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to “advise the Vice Chancellor to suspend the University’s convocation ceremony without investigating the veracity of the Pro-Chancellor’s claim is not only worrisome but highly depressing. It is a blatant erosion of academic freedom and University autonomy for which our Union has consistently fought for over the years.”

Also, in a letter dated March 2 in response to Babalakin’s claim, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, the vice-chancellor, said the university followed the pro-chancellor’s directives and did not contravene any law.

Ogundipe said, “Mr. Pro-Chanceilor, it is clear from the contents of the letter that all information relating to the impending Convocation Ceremonies were brought to the notice of Council as you made copious references to it.

“In addition, sir, you personally made input to the convocation arrangements. These statements can be verified by the audio recording and minutes of the council meetings of 21st and 22nd January, 2020.

“You will recall that I said that the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo had accepted to be the convocation lecturer. I also mentioned to council, discordant tones coming from his office because of the political climate in his country.”

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