Is LASU VC Prof. Obafunwa a bully or victim?

LASU ASUU has claimed that the institution's VC Prof. John Obafunwa is victimizing its members after some PhD certificates, including the Chairman's were withdrawn. A similar accusation was made in August when NANS leaders said he stopped students from being mobilized for the NYSC. Obafunwa however has a different story.

Friday the 7th of August 2014 will remain an unforgettable date in the history of the University of Lagos.

On that day, a three-year-old battle that started in September 2011 over increased fees was ended by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State at UNILAG's 19th convocation.

Several protests were stages, with that of Tuesday 3rd of June resulting in the incarceration of 8 students and the hospitalization of 16 students.

Despite the much criticised government clampdown, protests continued and LASU was closed down but it was reopened, with up to 60% fees cut.

After the reversal students claimed victory saying they have contributed to changing the world with their blood and sweat, urging the release of arrested students.

Everyone though that was the end of the crisis which threatened the soul of LAU.

But it seems the battle only began after the battle — a hangover storm, in the center of which LASU Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Obafunwa, stands remains to be dealt with.

Cracks appeared in early August, few weeks after the fees reversal, when students claimed Obafunwa was victimising students who participated in the tuition fee protests.

NANS chairman, Lagos State, Mr. Yakub Eletu, alleged that the Obafunwa-led LASU management prevented some students from being mobilized for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) by withholding their call up-letters.

“We want the governor to prevail on the Vice Chancellor, Professor John Obafunwa to sheath his sword and allow the student who wants to go for NYSC to do so and others not to face any panel," Eletu said.

"Since the fee has been reduced by the governor, there is no need for the school management to victimize anyone.

About two weeks later Obafunwa who had a running battle with the LASU chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said his administration was being sabotaged by corrupt elements not comfortable with his 'probing attitude.'

"You will notice that it is not unlikely that because of the reforms being carried out, some people will not be happy,”  the VC said at the time.

"...it is not unlikely that because of the probing attitude of this administration, the request that everything should be placed on the table, it is only natural that some elements would not be happy."

So much has happened over the month.

Another battle is threatening the peace of the institution with the management's withdrawal of the PhD certificates of the Chairman and 13 members of the LASU ASUU.

ASUU is claiming that the VC is victimising its members, just like the NYSC saga.

"We can rule that the purpose was to victim some of our members."

"What we experiencing in LASU is a fall out of the last ASUU-LASU strike. ASUU Lagos zone and national are behind ASUU-LASU. We will fight him (VC) until he is out of the office," ASUU Lagos Zonal Coordinator, Dr. Sola Nasir said.

But Prof Obafunwa says the certificates were withdrawn for correction and verification purposes.

“The Senate asked them to bring the letters offering them admission into these programmes. It asked them to bring the documents showing how they transited from M.Phil. to Ph.D. status," he said.

"It asked them to bring their thesis for the programmes. Because in the thesis, the title of the thesis and the degree awarded would written there."

He stated clearly that not all the certificates will be returned.

"Those that are cleared will get their new certificates. Areas of double honours will be streamlined.

"Those that do not exist at all will be withdrawn completely."

It is most likely that the ASUU Chairman will lose his PhD in Business Admin (Marketing), because the VC said "was nothing like Ph.D. programme in Marketing approved."

While it is easy to call this victimization and label the VC a bully who is getting back at those who participated in the last strike, it should also be considered that he might just be trying to "do things right".

This does not eliminate the possibility that there is indeed a bully in LASU.

Only time will tell.

I wish for a fairy tale ending.

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