Samson Folarin

Tension mounted on Wednesday as lecturers at the University of Lagos, Akoka, protested against the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin.

The lecturers, who marched round the school, gathered under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, UNILAG branch.

The placard-carrying protesters, who  chanted slogans against the pro-chancellor, called for his  removal.

The protest followed a week of renewed clash  between the varsity management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Toyin Ogundipe, and the governing council.

Ogundipe had announced that 13,489 graduating students would be conferred with degrees, diplomas and certificates from March 9 to 13.

However, the National Universities Commission, in a memo, called for the suspension of the event.

It was reported that the NUC halted the programme after Babalakin complained to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, that the varsity council was sidelined  from  the convocation ceremonies.

UNILAG  ASUU Chairman, Dele Ashiru, said during the protest they had reviewed the circumstances that led to the postponement of the convocation.

He claimed the  reports obtained by the  congress revealed Babalakin was dictatorial, hence  they made a  resolution  to declare him a persona non grata.

Ashiru said, “After taking an analytical perspective of this unwarranted postponement, the congress noted the damaging activities of the pro-chancellor of this university.

“Beginning from today (Wednesday), Dr Olawale Bolanle Babalakin has been declared a persona non grata in this university; he is not to be seen in the council chamber anymore.”

He urged the lecturers to enforce the resolution, adding that any day Babalakin was seen  at the institution, he should be thrown out.

A senior official of the varsity, who  spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed  a loyalist of Babalakin was sent out of the ASUU congress.

He said, “The congress held first before the protest. The (hall for the) congress was filled  to capacity; everyone spoke with one voice, except one Daramola, who wanted to make excuses for him. He was chased out.  Babalakin wants to run UNILAG like his law chambers.

“Contrary to the claim of the council, there is evidence that the convocation was discussed during their meeting. UNILAG is number one now in Nigeria and 13th in Africa, the pro-chancellor is supposed to capitalize on that to move the school forward, instead of all these issues.”

Babalakin said to be outside the country did not take his calls when contacted by our correspondent for comments.

However, he allegedly told a Premium Times reporter that the union did not have the power to declare him a persona non grata.

While urging the protesters to direct their anger at the NUC which cancelled the convocation, he said his actions followed by the laws governing the university.

Copyright PUNCH.