Allegations of threat to life and abuse of office have hit the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, University of Lagos chapter, CHARLES ABAH writes
This is not the best of times for the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, University of Lagos chapter. Nowadays, controversy seems to the second name of the association, which is the umbrella body for the non-academic staff in the ivory tower. Instead of members of the association coming together to fight a common cause, they are, this time around, shooting themselves from the hips in an act of desperation.
The example that things have fallen apart is obvious and at the centre of the controversy is the leader of the association, Mr. Adetomiwa Adekola. Already, both the national leadership of the union and even the authorities of the university are reportedly aware of the crisis.
In a petition dated October 9, 2015 and obtained by our correspondent on Sunday, a group, People of like Minds, had asked the SSANU national leadership to intervene urgently, in rescuing the local chapter from an avoidable disaster.
In the petition signed by a former Chairman, SSANU, UNILAG chapter, Mr. Joseph Adefolalu, and acting Secretary, S.O Ahmed, members of People of like Minds accused the Adekola-led union of, among others, violating the union’s constitution with impunity.
In the petition titled “Please help SSANU UNILAG before it becomes extinct”, the petitioners also alleged that the Adekola-led association not only organised an illegal protest and strike, it also was not just in the handling of the multi-million naira 50 acres of land belonging to the union.
The petitioners similarly alleged that Adekola-led executive squandered over N3m to organise a get-together and send-off for retiree members of the union just as it failed to convene a congress meeting in line with the association’s constitution.
According to them, the congress has not met in the last nine months, an action that contravenes the provision of Article 14(V) (C) of the union’s constitution that congress shall hold at least once every three months.
In another petition to the UNILAG authorities, Adefolalu had also accused Adekola of threatening his life.
The petition was addressed to the UNILAG Registrar, Dr.Taiwo Ipaye.
Part of the petition dated October 20, 2015, read, “I write to inform your good offices the rumour of threat to my life by Mr. Adetomiwa Adekola, the chairman of SSANU, UNILAG branch over a protest letter to the National President, SSANU on various allegations of gross misconduct against him as the chairman of SSANU, UNILAG. I was informed of his boasting around that he would deal with me specially.”
But Adekola, in his reply on October 22, 2015, said that Adefolalu was up to something “sinister.”
Adekola added, “Just for the purpose of putting issues in perspective, Mr. Adefolalu, ever since my assumption of office as SSANU UNILAG chairman, has made himself an opposition leader. He has consistently made untoward criticisms of my administration, both overtly and covertly. Such criticisms are both oral and printed. The public space is flooded with Adefolalu’s writings, which are nothing but tissues of lies, character assassination aimed at criminalising my person.”
Reacting to the petition to SSANU national leadership, Adekola said, it was a “misguided” request.
According to him, the petitioners are moles planted in the union by some sponsors.
He added, “No meaningful progress is possible where there is chaos. The agents of disorder and their cohorts are already exposed. They have been at the base of the confusion rocking our union. They see the occupation of SSANU leadership as their sole right and will stop at nothing to vilify and demean him.”
On the alleged N3m for party, Adekola declared that it was a misrepresentation of facts. He noted that the association successfully organised the event with about N1.5m out the N4m initially estimated for the ceremony.
He also stated that prior to his assuming office, the association paid only N6m out of the N42m for the SSANU land. According to him, his administration has since paid all the outstanding money and even ensured that all allottees have taken custody of their property.
Insisting that the allegations were to frustrate his ambition to seek re-election in April 2016, Adekola also debunked the claim that his leadership had not held any congress since February this year.
He said, “We had a congress in April as well as on September 3 this year. Even at the September 3 meeting, Adefolalu moved a motion that an ultimatum should be given to the authorities of the university with regard to our earned allowances. I now wonder why the petitioners are claiming that we have not held a congress for a long time.”
Meanwhile, the UNILAG Head of Public Relations, Mr. Olagoke Oke, who said the crisis was an internal affair of the union, noted that the university management was looking into the issues.