Hamman Tukur Saad, chairman of the federal government’s visitation panel to probe the crisis rocking the University of Lagos (UNILAG), has kicked against the reinstatement of Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the institution’s vice-chancellor.
Ogundipe was removed by the varsity’s governing council on August 12 during a meeting presided over by Wale Babalakin, its former pro-chancellor and chairman.
But on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari approved Ogundipe’s reinstatement in a statement issued by Ben-Bem Goong, ministry of education’s director press and public relations.
In a letter dated November 10 and addressed to Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to the president, Saad, however, faulted the federal government’s decision to reinstate Ogundipe.
Saad said the panel’s recommendation for Ogundipe’s reinstatement as VC was only based on his unjust removal from office and as such did not absolve him of fraud allegations against him.
The professor of architecture at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, also disclosed that he agreed to sign the panel’s final report on the ground that it would be reviewed by the Shehu of Borno, who is UNILAG’s chancellor.
Saad said he did not want to sign the report earlier but changed his mind to avoid igniting further controversies.
“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 said.
He, however, expressed regret that the federal government announced Ogundipe’s reinstatement contrary to the initial stance that the “final recommendation of the panel was that the matter should be referred back to the chancellor, irrespective of what the panel recommended.”
“As it stands now I feel I was made a fool of and stabbed on the back by people I trusted,” he said in the letter.
In another letter dated October 7 and addressed to Adamu Adamu, minister for education, Saad had expressed concern over the integrity of the report submitted by the panel.
In the letter, Saad had claimed that the panel’s report was not only one-sided as the majority of its members were biased to Ogundipe but also that the terms of reference (ToR) were skewed against Balalakin.
“When you read the report you will notice that it was very one-sided, so to speak, the option was for the Chairman to refuse to sign the report and that would have been a slap on the Government’s face,” he said.
“In any case, the issue is not that the report was false but it contained half truth in order to protect one party and magnified the facts from the other party by pushing the blame to one side, omitting what could have balanced the report.”
Buttressing his point, the chairman cited the panel’s recommendations on the various allegations against the VC including contract splitting.
“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. If among the faults enumerated in the report the government believes he should be sacked, that does not contradict our recommendations,” he said.