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UNILAG crisis: Adaralegbe, another governing council member, resigns

Following Thursday’s unexpected resignation of Wale Babalakin, a senior advocate of Nigeria, as pro-chancellor and chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos, Akoka, another external member of the council, Bayo Adaralegbe, has tendered his resignation letter.

Adaralegbe, a lawyer and partner at Babalakin and Company, a law chamber founded by Babalakin, addressed his resignation letter, which is dated September 18, to the education minister, Adamu Adamu.

According to Adaralegbe, his decision to resign hinged on the crisis rocking the university, accusing the suspended vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, of falsifying the result of an interview conducted for applicants into the position of director of works on the campus.

In his letter, Adaralegbe said his resignation takes immediate effect, even as he extolled the leadership qualities of the erstwhile chairman of the council.
He said Babalakin committed his personal resources into the university without seeking any favour from the institution.

“I was inaugurated along with other Federal Government appointees on the 6th April 2017. In that period, Babalakin provided very strong moral leadership as Pro Chancellor and Chairman of Council. He kept scrupulously to the promise he made at our maiden Council meeting not to bid for, or be awarded contracts from the University,” he said in the letter.

“He actually did more. By December 2019 he had poured approximately N100 millions of his own personal resources on different endeavours in the University. At the time this situation arose, he was in the process of transferring to the University (at no cost to it) 40 hectares of land he owned in Ogudu, Lagos to address its staff housing problems,” he said.

Adaralegbe accused unnamed persons of politicising his membership of the council, saying as a proud son of his father, who he said was a former deputy vice-chancellor at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), and an adviser to a former education minister, he had served the university conscientiously.

“They have even turned my position on the Council as propaganda material, claiming that I lied about my state of origin in order to get appointed. My association with Babalakin since 1991, something that I am incredibly proud of, and which is very common knowledge has also been weaponised by these people,” Adaralegbe said.

“Recent developments have, unfortunately, made my continued stay on the Governing Council of the University of Lagos very untenable. I experienced first-hand, the Vice Chancellor of a University falsifying interview results for the position of Director of Works.

“Professor Toyin Ogundipe threatened to beat me up during an interview session for the position of Director of Works because I resisted his attempt to falsify interview results. It was also in University of Lagos that I experienced a Vice Chancellor attempting to appoint a Professor in respect of a discipline that the University did not have a department, did not admit undergraduate or postgraduate students, and through a one-page Memorandum to the Pro-Chancellor that touted the candidate as an ‘agent of change’. This is of course apart from a litany of corrupt practices.

“I consider my continued stay on the Governing Council of University of Lagos, a serious dishonour and desecration of my late father’s memory, Professor Adeniji Adaralegbe one (if not the very first) of the first set First Class holders of UNN, former Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Ife and Special Adviser to Professor Aliu Babatunde Fafunwa, Honourable Minister Federal Ministry of Education,” he said.

Meanwhile, another external member of the governing council confided in BusinessDay that he is considering resignation of his appointment.

The member, also an associate of Babalakin, said he is already in talks with his “principal”, and that the final decision would be taken in a few days.
“Yes, my spirit is no longer in that university. It left there long ago. This is not because Babalakin resigned but because my dignity and integrity are very important to me. I cannot sit where I wouldn’t be able to address illegalities,” said the Council member who does not want to be named.

It would be recalled that in May, 2017, five external members of the governing council of the university were inaugurated in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, with the announcement of Babalakin as chairman.

Other members of the council include Saminu Dagari, a senior lecturer at the Federal University, Gashua, Yobe State; and Yomi Kasali, a pastor and founder of Foundation of Truth Assembly. Kasali doubles as the chairman of the Nigerian Christians Pilgrims Commission (NCPC).

Other members include Alli Hussein, a former commissioner in Katsina State, and Adetokunbo Adebanjo, a director at the Federal Ministry of Education.

The council at different times was joined by internal members from the institution representing the management as vice-chancellor, deputy vice-chancellors, and as representatives of the senate and congregation.

However, crisis rocking the university broke out in 2018 following frequent disagreements between the chairman of the council and the institution management, leading to the setting up of an audit committee led by Saminu Dagari.

The report of the committee has remained a subject of controversy, and formed the basis for the controversial removal of Ogundipe on August 12.

In reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the composition of a seven-member visitation panel led by Tukur Sa’ad, a former vice-chancellor of Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State.

The panel also has a members Victor Onuoha, Ikenna Onyido, Ekanem Braide, Adamu Usman, Jimoh Bankole, and Grace Ekanem as secretary.

In his letter of resignation on Thursday, Babalakin disagreed with the panel’s composition, saying the members had no capacity to address the issues in contention.

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