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UNILAG Acting VC assumes duties, seeks support of labour unions

The newly appointed Acting Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Theophilus Soyombo, has called for support from all the labour unions in the institution in a bid to move the university forward.

Prof. Theophilus Soyombo addressing UNILAG workers on Wednesday at the Senate Building.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Soyombo was making his first appearance as the acting vice chancellor following the removal of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, by the Governing Council of the institution.

The institution’s Senate had been accused of several wrongdoings by the governing council, which eventually led to the postponement of the university’s convocation ceremony early in the year.

As a result of the development, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Unilag Chapter, passed a vote of no confidence on the Chairman of Council, Dr Wale Babalakin, and declared him, persona non grata.

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Babalakin, however, convened a council meeting outside the university where he allegedly conducted a voting exercise that led to the removal of Ogundipe.

Soyombo said: “Let me first start by thanking you for finding time to come out in your numbers to be part of this gathering on this first day of my assumption of office as the acting Vice Chancellor

“It is a demonstration of support. There is no doubt that these are trying times for our dear university but our prayers is that God will see us through this period. Our prayer is that we will all come out stronger and more vibrant.

“University of Lagos will continue to move forward and I will also want to thank you all for the peaceful way you have been conducting yourselves this period.

“I have not heard of any violence and therefore, want to urge you all to continue that way so that things will be okay for us all.

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I want to thank the various labour unions of the institution, the SSANU, the NAAT, NASU and the ASUU, the alumni, students and the general public and to remind them that no matter what, we are together and will remain together. By the grace of God, peace and stability will return to this university.

“On Aug. 12, the governing council announced my appointment as the acting vice chancellor of this university.

“This appointment was with immediate effect. I saw it as a call to service to this university and it is in this regard that I accepted the appointment in the interest of the institution,’’ Soyombo said.

According to him, there is need for all hands to be on deck in a bid to make the institution better than what it is, adding that there was a lot of work to be done.

The work on ground is not what one person can do and that is why I call for the support of everybody, so that when we have the success story, it will be for all of us,’’ the former Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences said.

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He stressed that his major focus would be on staff welfare, adding that the staff were the core resource.

Our staff is our main resource for us in Unilag. We must encourage our staff to do more and that is why issues of staff welfare and promotion will be promptly addressed.

“Our resources are limited but we will ensure that within this limited resources, we will explore avenues for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to take care of other needs.

“Let me also state that we will appreciate suggestions and comments from individuals, groups and union representatives,’’ he said.

Soyombo also stated that plans were already on to ensure the return of the students to a safe environment

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I am missing the students. As we all know, there is no university if the students are not there. Without them, the university cannot be the same.

“We want them back soon but in doing this, we must ensure that all the safety protocols as rolled out by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) must be in place and that is why we are intensifying efforts in ensuring that we put all the measures that will ensure their safety in place before they resume.

“We are also going to explore the opportunity of online teaching and that is why we are challenging those incharge of our IT to step up to ensure we are able to do this.

“Let us look up to the future with high hope and optimism,’’ he stated.

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