I regret signing the report, I have now been “stabbed on the back” by people I trusted.
The chairman of the Special Visitation Panel set up to probe the leadership crisis at the University of Lagos, Prof. Tukur Sa’ad, has faulted the reinstatement of Prof Toyin Ogundipe as the Vice Chencellor, saying he was skeptical about the integrity of the report.
Sa’ad said he agreed to sign the report to avoid another crisis and in order to save the government from embarrassment but regretted that he had now been “stabbed on the back” by people he trusted.
According to him, the recommendation that the VC should be reinstated was limited to the procedure of his termination but did not mean that he was not guilty of all the allegations.
President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the reinstatement of Ogundipe, saying his removal by the governing council did not follow due process.
The government had said the process adopted by the council in the appointment of Prof. Omololu Soyombo as acting Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG was inconsistent with the provisions of the law relating to the appointment of an acting Vice-Chancellor.
The reinstatement was contained in a statement issued on Wednesday by the Director (Press and Public Relations) in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Ben Goong, entitled: ‘Re: Report of the Special Visitation Panel to the University of Lagos’ which also dissolved Governing Council chaired by Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN).
But Sa’ad, in different letters to the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, cast doubts on the integrity of the report and acquittal of Ogundipe.
“The recommendation that the VC should be reinstated was limited to the procedure of his termination. It did not mean he should be absolved of all wrongdoing”, he said.
Sa’ad said the report of the panel was one-sided because the majority of the members were biased towards Ogundipe and the Terms of Reference were also skewed against Babalakin, who had since resigned from the position.
According to him, although Ogundipe was wrongly sacked, he was not exonerated as he was indicted in some wrongdoings, including contract splitting.
Sa’ad, a Professor of Architecture at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria also accused Babalakin of “committing hara-kiri” by removing the VC and appointing another one, and by his decision to step down from his position when the crisis got messy.
He said he was cajoled into signing the report with the understanding that the content would be subjected to review by the Chancellor of the University, the Shehu of Borno.
“As Chairman, I didn’t want to sign the Final Report but I felt that would be a slap on the face of the government and it would generate so much bad publicity in the public domain, that I would rather sign on the understanding that the matter would be referred to the Shehu of Borno as the Chancellor”, he stated.
He said he felt betrayed by the conclusion reached by government after he was made to believe in a different course of action.
Sa’ad said because of a number of anomalies in the administrative processes and sensitivity of the matter, “Final recommendation of the panel was that the matter should be referred back to the Chancellor, irrespective of what the panel recommended.”