There is a popular Yoruba saying that goes thus: “No matter how well you wash and package ‘efo ebolo’, it will always smell.” This aptly explains the current disdain for due process, fair principles, and institutional ethics presently unfolding at the Lagos State University (LASU) under the administration of the recently appointed Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ibiyemi Bello. It’s a confirmation of that old saying that a person cannot give what he/she does not have.
For the uninitiated, between 2017 and 2019 – a number of LASU staff members (academic and non-academic) were disciplined for various acts of misconduct. These included some of the then ASUU-LASU executives who were dismissed for misconduct such as illegal alteration of student grades for bribes and extortion of students. Some of those dismissed approached the National Industrial Court to look into their dismissal. In one of the cases (the case involving Dr. Udegbe who illegally altered one student’s result) before the court, the court dismissed the case and ruled that the immediate past university leadership followed due process in the application of the university’s extant laws. This judgement was to a large extent a vindication of the university that indeed, due process was followed in the dismissal of these former LASU staff members.
Shockingly, while the cases of Dr. Adeyemi Suenu (a former ASUU-LASU Vice Chairman who was dismissed for illegally altering the results of 12 students) and Dr. Oyewunmi (a former ASUU-LASU Chairman who was caught on tape extorting money from a student) were still before the industrial court, Professor Ibiyemi Bello hurriedly set up a prejudicial Appeal Committee which eventually undermined the judicial proceedings and exonerated Dr. Suenu, Dr. Oyewunmi and three other ASUU-LASU executives dismissed for gross misconduct.
This is not just an aberration. It’s a clear assault on justice and due process. To say the least: it is a despicable use of power by the new Vice-Chancellor. Perhaps it is to be expected considering the twisted process that produced the current LASU VC – Professor Ibiyemi Bello. She has proven so far to be a devotee of the small gods that brought her to power, and has been passionately subservient to these negative diverse interests. This certainly will be the case all through her stay in the office.
Nigeria is indeed a centre stage of absurdities. Professor Ibiyemi who has barely spent 3 months in office got herself voted as the best female VC in Tertiary Education. Best female VC in Nigeria after less than 3 months in office? What a clownish system we run here in Nigeria! If people are lying to you, must you lie to yourself?
The current LASU Pro-Chancellor is also missing in action even as justice, ethics, and due process continue to wail in Professor Ibiyemi’s Golgotha. There are indications that the Pro-chancellor has failed to serve as a credible check and balance to the VC, and instead prefers to be teleguided by her and relentlessly kowtows to each of her interests. Since the removal of Professor Ninalowo, LASU’s Governing Council has transformed into a rubber-stamp elementary school press club where key decisions are taken on behalf of prefects whose leadership appears clueless about how to run a full-fledged educational system. This explains why Professor Ibiyemi Bello was largely in a hurry to bring back her dismissed ASUU-LASU footsoldiers who have served her clandestine interests for years.
Dear Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, how do I explain to my 10-year-old daughter that in a university I had hoped she would attend, different lecturers committed similar offences and the most egregious offenders among them were recalled by the VC? How do I explain to my 15-year-old cousin who is about to take UTME that Dr. Suenu who illegally altered 12 results and unilaterally brought back 12 students (that the Senate of the university had already asked to withdraw) will soon return to LASU to potentially work as his lecturer while Dr. Bola Ademeso (a former lecturer in the same LASU faculty of arts) was dismissed (and not recalled) even though he illegally altered fewer results? Is this what LASU must suffer for your re-election campaign?
You traded LASU for your re-election! Your appointee undermined ongoing proceedings at the court by recalling individuals who criminally desecrated the system for decades. Yet, you think there will be peace. Think again. LASU must be ready to recall all those who have been disciplined at one time or the other (academic and non-academic), and not just the criminal representatives and ambassadors of ASUU. Your selfish political interests are what you have placed above the ideals of integrity, courage for due process, and ethics. The ills were there for decades and some individuals came and were bold enough to strategically confront the same.
Information has it that Mr. Governor as Visitor has reprimanded the VC and the Council from using this blatant approach to recall these misfits, and has assured them that he would use the Visitation Panel to bring them back. What a pity!!! When it eventually happens, the public will not be surprised anyway. After all, you enabled the current VC of LASU and her husband to oust Ninalowo and ultimately destroy the nascent Proud LASU Legacy of the last administration. To say you will never be proud of the legacy of the current administration is not a curse. The handwriting is already visible.
Adieu to discipline, ethics, justice, and fairness in LASU. The small gods who shield themselves away from discipline using unionism and affiliations with crooked administrators are back. Mr. Sanwo-Olu, your stage-managed appointee, Ibiyemi Olatunji Bello with her tiny ego and big insecurities have buried you. LASU I know is already missing her recent glorious days. I hope she gets to resurrect again. Sun re o LASU!
Olajuwon Kosoko is a LASU alumnus and business consultant with Bliccks International.