17 May 2019

Nigeria: UNILAG Crisis - Reps Committee Fixes Tuesday for 'Stakeholders' Meeting

As part of efforts towards resolving the conflict between the management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, and some governing council members, the House of Representatives' Committee on Public Procurement has scheduled a broader 'stakeholders' meeting for Tuesday, May 21.

This decision was taken on Thursday after the committee met with the institution's vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and his deputy in charge of development services, Folasade Ogunsola, among others.

The permanent secretary, ministry of education, Sunny Echonno, and the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abubakar Rasheed, had led Mr Ogundipe and his team to the meeting on Thursday.

The chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, representing Obokun/Oriade federal constituency in Osun State, had commended the ministry of education for what he described as its prompt intervention on the matter.

The ministry and the NUC had on Wednesday met with the vice-chancellor and had planned meeting the chairman of the university's governing council, Wale Babalakin.

Mr Echonno had briefed the committee on its preliminary findings, blaming the rancour on a communication gap between the management and the council.

However, the governing council chairman could not make it to the meeting on Thursday.

According to an insider, who was part of the meeting but craved anonymity, Mr Babalakin was represented at the meeting by a member of his law firm.

"I cannot recollect the name of the representative of the council chairman. He told the committee the chairman just received the invitation on Thursday morning, and that was the reason he could not make it," the source said.

The source said the committee chairman noted the house was concerned based on the widespread complaints about procurement issues.

"They warned sternly that the vice-chancellor, as the chief executive officer of the university, would be held responsible should the procurement laws be flouted," the source said.

Meanwhile, following the absence of the council chairman, PREMIUM TIMES learnt the committee insisted the management and other stakeholders meet with it again on Tuesday.

"The committee said it would like to meet more stakeholders on the matter to give its advice and warning to a larger audience."

The vice-chancellor, who confirmed the development, said the meeting went well.

"Yes, the meeting held and it went well. We were asked to return on Tuesday," Mr Ogundipe said.

Efforts to get the reaction of Mr. Babalakin on the proposed meeting were unsuccessful. He did not pick our reporter's call to his mobile telephone.

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