Yusuf Alli, Abuja
The National Universities Commission (NUC) stopped the University of Lagos convocation because the Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe “sidelined the Governing Council”, it was learnt on Tuesday.
The VC failed to obtain the Council’s approval for the Convocation Ceremonies.
The NUC expressed shock that the VC allegedly compiled and released the list of those for honourary degrees without seeking the consent of the Council.
The input of the Honours Committee of the Senate and the Senate itself, as prescribed by the Rules Regulations and Law of the University, was not presented to the Council as required under the University Act.
These are contained in the Governing Council resolutions, dated March 7 which were signed by UNILAG Registrar Oladejo Azeez.
The NUC on March 4 suspended the convocation ceremonies fixed for between March 9 and March 13.
The suspension created tension in the university as some staffers accused Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN) of personally halting the proceedings.
In the resolutions, the Governing Council said it had insisted that “Honorary Degrees will not be treated as a chieftaincy title to be given to the highest bidder.”
The resolutions reads: “The Governing Council of the University of Lagos at its meeting held between Tuesday, March 3rd 2020 and Thursday March 5th 2020 deliberated and resolved on the following issues: (i) 2019 Convocation Ceremonies; (ii) Appointment and Promotions of Academic, Administrative & Technical Staff and Junior Members of Staff; (iii) Report of the Sub-committee on University Budget and Budget Performance in the Year 2019 and (iv) Other issues critical to the University of Lagos.
”On Wednesday, March 4th 2020, the Governing Council received and considered the letter from the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) directing Management to suspend the 2019 Convocation Ceremonies slated for Monday 9th March 2020 to Friday 13th March 2020.
“The NUC directive for the suspension of the Convocation Ceremonies was based on the exchange of correspondences between the Pro-Chancellor & Chairman of Council, Dr. Bolanle Olawale Babalakin, SAN, OFR and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin T, Ogundipe, FAS regarding claims that Management failed to obtain Council’s approval for the Convocation Ceremonies.
”Council was guided by the Audio Recording of the Special Meeting held on Tuesday, 21st January 2020 and Wednesday, 22 January 2020 in order to clarify claims by the Vice-Chancellor that the Convocation Ceremonies was brought to Council for Approval.
“The Audio Recording, the Minutes of these meetings as well as the Agenda/Notice of Meeting confirmed that the Convocation Budget was the only item formally brought to the January, 2020 Special Meeting.
”Council was also verbally informed of the proposed Convocation Lecturer and this choice was discussed. However, the Convocation programme was not listed as an item on the Agenda of the Special Meeting of Council and there were no supporting documents on the programme tabled during the January, 2020 Special Council Meeting.”
On the conferment of honourary degrees, the council accused the management of allegedly violating the Rules Regulations and Law of the University.
It added: ”In respect of the Award of Honorary Degrees, Council directed that it will only consider the nominees for Honorary Degrees after receiving a detailed presentation from Management which will include; the Curriculum Vitae of the honorees, the recommendation of the Honours Committee of the Senate and the Senate itself as prescribed by the Rules Regulations and Law of the University.
”The Management never presented any memorandum/supporting documents to Council on the subject matter. No Council approval was given to the Management.
“It is noteworthy that Council had expressed dissatisfaction to Management about the manner Honorary Degrees were handled for the 2018 Convocation Ceremonies, and had stressed specifically at its meeting of March 2019 (as confirmed by Minutes of that meeting) that Management must provide all the relevant details of nominees for honorary awards to the Council early enough to enable Council deliberate properly on it.
“Council had also cautioned that honorees must have made demonstrable Contribution to the society, the nation or the world at large. The Honorary Degrees will not be treated as a chieftaincy title to be given to the highest bidder.
”The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council explained that his communication with regulatory authorities only took place on Monday, 2 March 2020, and this was necessitated by his letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Friday, 28 February 2020, which the Vice-Chancellor received on the same day but ignored, and proceeded to hold a Press Conference regarding the Convocation Ceremonies without deeming it fit to address the serious concerns and legal issues he raised in his letter under reference.
”The position of Council was confirmed by the audio recording of the meeting of Council which was fully played to the entire Council on Wednesday, 4 March 2020.”
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