The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Branch, Ogbomoso chapter has rejected Governor Seyi Makinde’s order that its Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Michael Ologunde should step down.
The governor, on Friday, directed the VC to step aside until further notice in a statement through the Commissioner for Education, Science, and Technology, Olasunkanmi Olaleye.
The letter read, “His Excellency, Engr. Seyi Makinde, the Governor of Oyo State and the visitor to the Ladoke Akintola University, has directed that the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. M. O. Ologunde should step aside until further notice.
“Consequently, the VC has also been directed to hand over forthwith to the next principal officer in rank in order to ensure uninterrupted flow of normal activities of the institution.”
The decision was taken after Makinde alleged that the vice-chancellor was instigating workers of the university to demand payment of unpaid salaries.
Makinde expressed shock when the university workers started agitating for the payment of outstanding salaries immediately after Oyo state took over ownership of the institution.
However, SSANU, after holding an emergency meeting to address the directive on Sunday, described Makinde’s action as illegal.
The union emerged with a joint voice, unequivocally condemning the VC’s firing and making it clear that only the School Governing Council can unseat the VC and not the governor or the Oyo State Ministry of Education.
In a statement issued, the staff of the state-owned university declared below:
“LAUTECH is not an appendage of the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology, Oyo State or the extension of the Office of the Hon. Commissioner of Education, Science & Technology of the State but a statutory body that has its establishment law as may be amended.
“The law of the university did not give power to administer the university to the Commissioner but the Governing Council.
“The power to appoint and terminate staff appointments is resided in the Governing Council and not the Visitor or his proxies including the Commissioner of Education, Science & Technology.
“The University enjoys autonomy in Nigeria, Oyo State inclusive.
“The purported letter signed by the Commissioner of Education, Science & Technology will have no basis in law and can only generate animosity and innuendos within the university community and between Oyo and Osun States more so, the joint ownership status of the university was just severed in December 2020 and unfortunately, the deposed Vice-Chancellor is a vestige of the arrangement prior to the dismantling of the joint ownership status.
“The ‘step aside’ directive is considered hasty, cumbersome and incongruous to the order that brought in the current principal officers of the university on February 14, 2019, and should be reversed in the name of equity, fairness and good conscience and also negated the position of His Excellency on LAUTECH as said in his radio and television broadcast of Saturday, February 20, 2021.
“We would like to remind His Excellency, Engineer Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde that on Saturday, February 20, 2021, on a live radio programme anchored by the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), he informed the whole world that he heard on a good note that the Vice-Chancellor incited the unions on campus to go on strike to demand for the payment of their Eight (8) months outstanding salaries and allowances having paid eight (8) billion naira to Osun State on the separation of joint ownership.
“The Governor in his final submission reasoned that he will allow the Governing Council to investigate the matter when it resumed work in order for him not to be seen as being despotic and undemocratic in dispensing judgment on the matter and that he will possibly not like a court case on the matter.
“Today, that Council has not officially assumed duty in the university since its inauguration by the Governor on April 1, 2021.
“Can we now ask the Commissioner where he derived the power to order the ‘step aside’ of the Vice-Chancellor when the Visitor he claimed to have directed him has openly declared that such power belongs to the Governing Council?
“Our Union is not interested in who becomes the Vice-Chancellor beyond the fact that we lobbied the last Governing Council to consider and give us a homegrown Chief Executive Officer of the university after more than 25 years of existence.”
The union, however, urged the governor to do the right thing by withdrawing the directive, following the rule of law and allowing the Governing Council to probe the alleged violations of the VC and be willing to accept the council’s decision.