Lately, the University Of Lagos has been in the news for unhealthy reason, but many people including this writer did not consider it as a national issue worthy of a serious attention. Truly, I concede that there are much bigger and more overwhelming salient issues of national importance at hand for one to be bothered or engrossed by a momentary fratricidal war. So I thought. Apparently, I misdiagnosed and misclassified the crisis as interclass kerfuffle. By my own reckoning, there is nothing fratricidal in it. In fact, to borrow the street lingo, it is not even a “two fighting”.
It is purely a case of egregious greediness, and untamed excessive acquisitive appetite; a recipe for bucolic bourgeois. If not greed, tell me, what else under the Sun would make a whole Senior Advocate of Nigeria perjure himself. I will come to that presently. Our obsessive attachment or cowardly inability, as it were, to drop and disentangle ourselves from some of the relics of the colonial past is responsible for some of our woes in Nigeria. The idea of Pro–Chancellor, I make bold to assert has outlived its usefulness. It is not in harmony with the present reality. A situation where an individual because of his influence and affluence regardless of how he attained same is allowed to macro manage a University is not only despicable but also unacceptable. Well, that’s not the focus of my intervention but to highlight what in my most considered opinion is considered as a criminal audacity in the illegality of the composition of the governing council of the much acclaimed university of first choice.
Permit me, therefore, to share my findings with you.
Section 5 of the University of Lagos Act provides that the council of the University shall consist of – the Pro–Chancellor, the vice Chancellor, the deputy vice-chancellor. One person from the ministry responsible for education; nine persons representing a variety of interests and broadly representatives of the whole federation to be appointed by the president. Four persons appointed by the Senate from among its members; two persons appointed by the congregation from among its members; one person appointed by the convocation from among its members. Paragraph 5(e) of the Act contemplates adherence to the principles of federal character. This is in mutatis mutandis with section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
Curiously, however, only five persons were inaugurated as Federal government appointees. Below is the name of the appointees and their state of origin.
Dr Wale Babalakin (Ekiti State)
Dr Saminu Dagari (Yobe State)
Dr Aga Adaralegbe (Rivers State)
Mattew Yomi Kasali (Lagos State)
Ali Hussain (Katsina State)
Even if you have a memory like a sieve, it is on record that the Honourable Minister for education recently attended an occasion in Gbongan when Dr. Babalakin dedicated an edifice in honour of his father in Gbongan Village. The question then is; at what point, did Dr Wale Babalakin change his state of origin to Ekiti or is Gbongan no longer an integral part of Osun State? This, correct me if I am wrong, appears to be a criminal usurpation of Ekiti State slot in the council of Unilag.
For the sake of clarity, let us look at the profile of other members of the council.
Dr Saminu Dagari (Yobe State)
Dr Aga Adaralegebe (Rivers State)
Matthew Yomi Kasali (Lagos State)
Ali Hussain (Katsina State)
Dr Saminu Dagari
Dagari hails from Yobe state, North-East Nigeria. He is a senior lecturer from the Department of Chemistry, Federal University Gashua. After completing his M.Sc. Degree in 1993, Dr Dagari spent countless number of years trying to earn a Ph.D. degree, which he managed to get in 2012. He had a fruitless career in Bayero University, Kano before he took solace in the newly established Federal University Gashua where he became a Senior Lecturer. By University of Lagos standards, he would still be a Lecturer II by the quantity and quality of his academic publications. But he found his way into the University of Lagos Governing Council and became a willing tool for Babalakin.
Dr. Aga Adaralegbe
There is no person known and addressed as Dr. Aga Adaralegbe from River State. This name must have been presented to deceive the appointing authorities. The person who turned up for inauguration on 9 May 2017 was Dr. Bayo Adaralegbe, a partner in Babalakin & Co from Ekiti State, South-West Nigeria. How could Dr. Bayo Adaralegbe who hails from Ekiti State be the same as Dr. Aga Adaralegbe from Rivers? It takes the ingenuity of Babalakin to pull such stunt. What a shame! Could the above be a mere mistake or coincidence? This is most unlikely. The beneficiaries of the illegal acts must be taken to have initiated them to unjustly and illegally confer undeserved privileges on themselves. It is important to note that neither Dr. Babalakin nor Dr. Adaralegbe had so far pointed out any error and formally requested for correction. It probably did not occur to them that a day of reckoning such as this would ever come. Without mincing words, the corpse they buried has his legs outside!
Rev. Matthew Yomi Kasali
Rev Kasali hails from Lagos State, South-West, Nigeria and he is the Founder and Senior Pastor of the Foundation of Truth Assembly. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC). His educational background remains shrouded in secrecy. His period as the Chair of the Board of NCPC has been characterised by a lot of in-fighting, rancour and division. The Executive Secretary of NCPC was accused of mismanagement of funds similar to what Babalakin is doing in the University of Lagos.
Alhaji Ali Hussain
This man is an astute administrator and a cool-headed man. He hails from Katsina State, North-West Nigeria. He rose to become a Commissioner in Kastina State where he left a footprint.
From the foregoing, the Federal Government appointees consist of three South-West members, one Northeast and one Northwest. Section 14(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended mandates that the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner that reflects the federal character of Nigeria and there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies. The combined effect of this provision and section 4(1) of the Federal Character Commission Act makes the principle of Federal Character justiciable, compelling and obligatory. See the Supreme Court case of Attorney General of Ondo State vs Attorney General of the Federation (2002) 27 WRN p. 1.
Furthermore, the principle of Federal Character has been transformed into a policy known as 'Quota System ' or 'Geo Political zone.' The policy entails that appointments to key Federal Institutions must reflect balancing of states in Nigeria. (See Badejo vs Minister of Education (1990) 4 NWLR Pt 143 p.354). It is submitted that where the appointment was procured by fraud such as misrepresenting the state of origin, with a view to side-track the provisions of Federal Character Commission Act, such appointment is unlawful, null and void. The House Committee was therefore correct in its observation that Government appointment was lopsided, and even so in its recommendation that it should be corrected by the Presidency.
There is no doubt that Dr. Babalakin had deliberately manipulated the composition of the Council to his own advantage. We understand that he even brought two (2) additional persons from his law firm to attend Council’s meetings and take minutes. What an aberration!!!
It is trite that he that comes to equity must come with clean hands. The committee set up by the Council to examine the expenditure of the University from May 2107 is illegal and it cannot stand because it suffers both legitimacy and credibility. The council was not properly constituted ab initio thus its motive or intent is suspect.
This development creates an auspicious opportunity for the Alumni body to convince the larger society that they are relevant in modern day Nigeria. We cannot all out of fears of the unknown stand akimbo or pecuniary interest keep mum and allow the labour of our founding fathers to be in vain! UNILAG is too important an entity to be acquired and made a satellite chamber of Wale Babalakin and Co.
It is the prerogative of the Ekiti and Rivers States to challenge this illegality and wrestle their stolen mandate from Babalakin and his cohorts. O to ge!
IDOWU AWOPEJU. Esq.
writes from Lagos.