On UNILAG, ASUU should do better says Onifade

"NBA, thank you for disinviting Governor El Rufai" by Debo Onifade

The past weeks have witnessed a back and forth in an institution considered to be one of the best in the country; there has been a rising issue regarding the removal of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe by the school’s governing council headed by the university’s pro-chancellor. Prof Wale Babalakin, an alumnus of the institution.

This removal which did not go well with the senate, Academic Staff Union of Univerisities, other staff unions of UNILAG and Ogundipe himself as it received backlash and denial from them. According to them, they disagree with the removal because it was not done in accordance to due process of removing an official. The staff stood vehemently against the removal and subsequent appointment of an acting vice chancellor, Prof Theophilus Soyombo in series of protest, meetings held and statement released to the press.

According to Babalakin, Ogundipe was removed on grounds of misappropriation of funds.

“Prof Ogundipe has been looting the university and looting it recklessly, that’s the plain truth that we should not hide. There is misappropriation and there is direct looting of the university. All attempts were made to put an end to this.

“The former VC spent N49m renovating his house. Under the process, this has to be done with approval from the council, he sought no approval. To cover up, he gave the bursar N41m to renovate his official residence. The official residence of the bursar can be built for N41m from the scratch; this was what was spent on renovation. Prof Ogundipe has been looting the university and looting it recklessly, that’s the plain truth that we should not hide. There is misappropriation and there is direct looting of the university. All attempts were made to put an end to this.  he said.

Speaking on this on the Liberating Nigeria online show organized by Liberating Nigeria a leading online political forum, Debo Onifade, author of the book; Liberating Nigeria: a guide to winning elections and reviving our country, Onifade disagreed with the staff because they were only antagonizing the removal on grounds that it wasn’t a due process. He said Babalakin applied the new law which they are oblivious of and also expressed displeasure in the fact that they were only concerned with the process but didn’t say anything regarding the allegations brought against him.

He added that it is apparent that the staff is not bothered about the mismanagement of funds which is appalling. He however sees it as s call to other governing councils of higher institutions to stand with the truth in the face of corruption practices by Vice Chancellors or other officials of an institution. Meanwhile, in latest development, the governing council has been dissolved by the president and a 7 member visitation panel to look into the crisis while the senate has appointed a new acting vice chancellor, Prof Folashade Ogunshola as instructed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In other news, the National Bureau of statistics (NBS), released its statistics on the rate of unemployment in the country as at the 2nd quarter of 2020. A comparison with the last report released in the 3rd quarter of 2018, the rate of unemployment increased from 23.1% to 27.1% which is equivalent to 21.7 million people unemployed with the underemployment rate seeing an increase from 20.1% to 28.6%.

“For the period under review, Q2 2020, the unemployment rate among young people (15-34 years) was 34.9 per cent, up from 29.7 per cent, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2 per cent from 25.7 per cent in Q3 2018. These rates were the highest when compared to other age groupings.”

The statistics office said the total number of people in employment in Q2 2020 fell by 15.8 per cent 58,527,276, compared to Q3 2018. Of this number, 35,585,274 were full-time employed (i.e. worked 40+ hours per week), while 22,942,003 were under-employed (i.e. working between 20-29 hours per week),” it added.

On this issue, Debo Onifade pointed out that he is not surprised at the report and he even thinks that the report is not comprehensive. He said there needs to be a better synergy between the NBS and other employment related agencies so as to gather adequate data.

He added that if the government keeps using the poverty index to determine who needs help, more help will always go to the Northerners leaving others sidelined.

Onifade thinks the report does not cover the number of people who are really unemployed as there are people who lost their jobs but because they are finding a way to survive, they are not considered unemployed.

According to him, if a bank lies off 1000 workers, there should be a strategy or process of tracking the 1000 people who have now become unemployed. He added that though the government might not have the capacity to out rightly provide them with jobs, it should be able to track year in year out, those who have been able to get employment of these 1000 people.

He urged the government and concerned authorities to get the data right for unemployed people and not just for poor people.

The government needs to do well in tracking rightly the number of unemployed people, so as to formulate better measures to help them as it is done in other part of the world and not just to track and post on news platforms, Onifade said

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By Deborah Yusuf

August 29, 2020

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