UNILAG Governing Council indicts VC over botched convocation

The Governing Council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) has said it called for the suspension of the 2020 convocation because the Vice Chancellor allegedly undermined the powers of the council, abused procedures and disobeyed instructions, particularly regarding the conferment of honorary degrees and other activities lined up for the ceremony.

Last week, the National Universities Commission (NUC), after a communication from the Council, directed the school to suspend the planned convocation slated for  March 9 to 12.

Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council, Dr. Wale Babalakin, explained that after his communication with the NUC on March 2, there was a directive to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, regarding claims that management failed to obtain approval for the convocation ceremonies which he ignored.

The Council, in a statement, yesterday, signed by Oladejo Azeez, claimed that the Vice Chancellor, allegedly abused procedures, violated the rules, regulations and law of the university regarding award of honorary degrees, noting that the university treated honorary degrees as chieftaincy titles that are, most times, given to the highest bidders.

“The Council, at its March special meeting, directed that it will only consider nominees for Honorary degrees after receiving detailed presentation from management which will include; the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of the honourees, the recommendation of the Honours Committee of the senate and the senate itself as prescribed by the rules, regulations and law of the university. Regrettably, the management never complied with the directive.

Neither memorandum nor supporting documents were presented to the council on the subject matter. Also, no council approval was given to the management for award of honorary doctorate degree.

“Council had, hitherto, expressed dissatisfaction to management about the manner Honorary degrees were handled in 2018 convocation ceremonies, and had stressed specifically at its meeting of March 2019, as confirmed by minutes of the meeting, that management must provide all the relevant details of nominees for honorary awards to the council early enough to enable it deliberate properly on it.

Council also cautioned that honourees must have made empirical contributions to the society, the nation or the world at large, insisting that Honorary degrees would no longer be treated as a chieftaincy title that are given to the highest bidder.”

The Council, however, made reference to audio recordings of the special meeting held on Tuesday, January 21 and Wednesday, January,22  to clarify claims by the Vice-Chancellor that the matter of the convocation activities was brought to council for approval.

“The audio recording, the minutes of meetings as well as the agenda/notice of meeting expressly confirmed that the convocation budget was the only item that was formally brought to the January, 2020 special meeting.

The Council was also verbally informed of the proposed convocation lecture, while the convocation programme was never listed as 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,” the statement said.

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