Makinde Acted Hastily, Illegally Suspending LAUTECH VC-SSANU
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) branch, Ogbomoso, has declared as hasty and illegal the indefinite suspension of the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Michael Ologunde, by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
The governor, who is the Visitor to the institution, had last week, through a letter signed by the state Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Barrister Olasunkanmi Olaleye, ordered the vice chancellor to step aside from office until further notice.
The letter, dated 16 April, 2021 stated that: “His Excellency Engineer Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde, Governor of Oyo State and Visitor to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso has directed that the Vice Chancellor of the Institution, Professor M. O. Ologunde should step aside until further notice.
“Consequently, the Vice Chancellor has been directed to handover forthwith to the next Principal Officer in rank in order to ensure uninterrupted flow of normal activities in the university.”
However, SSANU, LAUTECH Branch, arising from its executive emergency online meeting held on Sunday, challenged the legality of the governor’s order, declaring that it received the news with mixed feelings.
The union noted that Governor Makinde erred on the side of the law, noting that Professor Ologunde is not a direct appointee of the governor and declared: “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
SSANU, LAUTECH Branch therefore admonished the governor to reverse the decision “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.”
The union made its position known in a press release, tagged “Special Press Release On The Step Aside Order Of LAUTECH Vice Chancellor And The Rule Of Law”, a copy of which was made available to Newscoven.ng
The LAUTECH branch chairman of the union, Comr. Fajoye Hamzat Oyelere, stated in the release that the letter issued by the Commissioner for Education did not categorically lay any allegation against the vice chancellor.
SSANU, LAUTECH Branch averred that it was in the light of equity, justice and fair play that it held the executive emergency online meeting, with a view to “critically examined the contents of the letter and reports of our consultations with the members.”
Standing on the provisions of the LAUTECH Extant laws, the union observed that: “LAUTECH is not an appendage of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Oyo State or the extension of the Office of the Hon. Commissioner of Education, Science and 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 and Technology;
“The university enjoys autonomy in Nigeria, Oyo State inclusive;
“The purported letter signed by the Commissioner of Education, Science and 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.”
The union reminded Governor Makinde that, on Saturday, February 20, 2021, on a live radio program 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 months outstanding salaries and allowances, having paid eight 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 of him not to be seen as been 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 25years of existence.
“Professor Ologunde can be removed by the Governing Council but not by the Visitor or his proxy. Even at that, his offense must be properly stated and investigated where he will be given opportunity to present his case to the extent of being represented by a lawyer of his choice if need be.
“He is not a direct appointee of the governor if we will like the rule of law to prevail.
“SSANU will not want a confused situation where legal turmoil and civil unrest will be unnecessarily unleashed within the university community,” the release stated.
The executives of SSANU, LAUTECH Branch, therefore pleaded with Governor Makinde to rescind the step aside order “and allow the rule of law to prevail under the principles of natural justice pending the open investigation of the vice vhancellor by the Governing Council, if need be.”