The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has defended the dismissal of the governing council of Lagos State University by the state government and instead blamed the varsity’s governing council led by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Prof Adebayo Ninalowo for “flagrant contravention of extant laws, breach of due process, failure and total disregard to follow … own laid down criteria”.
ASUU’s Lagos State University Chapter took the position on Thursday in a statement co-signed by its secretary, Tony Dansu; and the assistant secretary, Adeolu Oyekan.
Last month, the governing council was dissolved by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu based on the recommendation of a Special Visitation Panel set up to examine the immediate and remote causes that had impeded the selection of Vice-Chancellor of the varsity.
The Lagos state government also said a new Governing Council for the Lagos State University will be constituted to conduct a new process for the appointment of the next vice-chancellor.
ASUU-LASU on however defended the action taken by the state government and accused Prof Ninalowo of being desperate to foist his own preferred candidate who did not meet the stated requirements.
“There is no doubting the fact that many procedures were breached by Prof. Ninalowo as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council and as Chairman of the Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee in the selection process,” Dansu and Oyekan said.
In the statement, ASUU pointed that the candidate shortlisted as “the best” in both exercises did not possess a PhD degree as against the requirements listed in the newspaper advertisement. Just as another candidate shortlisted among the top three has limited experience as against another requirement that an applicant “should be a distinguished scholar of the rank of Professor of ten (10) years standing with several years of teaching and research in a University.”
Among other breaches, Professor Ninalowo was accused of railroading the council into lowering requirements for the Vice-Chancellor job in the second exercise that were different from the ones listed in the newspaper advertisement for the first round in his desperation to ensure his anointed candidate still emerged the winner.
According to ASUU, “Two different adverts were placed to fill the vacant position of LASU Vice-Chancellor at different times (4th September 2020 and 14th January 2021 respectively). It is interesting to note that while many new conditions were included in the 2020 advert when compared to that of 2015, the Governing Council is unaware of how the reviews were done. The worst-case scenario was the advert placed in The Guardian of 14th January 2021.
“Following the cancellation of the first selection process, the Governing Council met on 11th January 2021 to ratify the election of the Ag. Vice-Chancellor. Immediately after this meeting, Prof. Ninalowo summoned the meeting of the Joint Council and Senate Selection Committee and this committee (whose mandate is to select and recommend names from which one will be finally picked by the Visitor), reviewed substantially the advertised conditions in the advert of 4th September 2020 (the one used for the botched process) particularly in the areas of qualifications of the applicants (by inserting PhD/Fellowship) and post-professorial experience (reduced from 10 years to 5 years) without the involvement of the Governing Council!”
To perpetrate this irregularity, ASUU alleged that the erstwhile Pro-Chancellor took advantage of the ignorance of council members on the rules by taking unilateral actions including placing newspaper adverts without their input only to seek approval retroactively.
“Without waiting for the inaugural meeting of the 11th Governing Council to hold, Prof. Ninalowo executively approved the placement of the first advert in The Nation newspaper of Friday, 4th September 2020, only to come and seek ratification of the executive approval at the very first meeting of Council held on 17th September 2020. The question is, on whose authority did he executively approve the content of the advert and its placement in the newspaper? A Council that has not held its inaugural meeting would not have asked him to do so,” they pointed out.