The Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Theophilus Soyombo, assumed duties yesterday, pledging to lift the institution to a higher pedestal than he met it.
He also promised to prioritise the welfare of staff, while calling for their support.
Soyombo, who addressed journalists and staff from the Senate building, sought the support of all to make the institution better.
He said: “These are indeed trying times for our great university and our prayer is that God will see us through this trying period.
“My major focus will be on staff welfare. I believe in this regard the human resources are the core assets of any organisation and I believe that a well-motivated staff should be able to deliver and work very hard. We must encourage our staff; we must motivate our staff to work well.”
He thanked all members of the different unions in the institution saying, “no matter what we say, we are all together and we should all just work together and I believe that by the grace of God, peace and stability will return to our university and we will all continue to work together in unity.”
He said on August 12, the Governing Council of the university removed the former VC and announced his appointment as the acting VC with immediate effect, adding that he sees the appointment as a call to service.
He said: “It is in this regard that I accepted the appointment for the ultimate benefit of the university. I thought that we should not allow the ship of the University of Lagos to continue to drift. The University of Lagos is a foremost university; it is greater than any individual – anyone of us.
“We all come here to work and at our various times, we pray that we all live till retirement. But whether we like it or not, when we work in UNILAG, we will leave UNILAG. But the University of Lagos will continue. It behooves us to leave the University of Lagos better than we met it.
“There is a lot of work at the University of Lagos but I can’t do it alone. That is why I need your support; that is why I need your prayers and I believe that we should all join hands together; let us work together for the progress of our university. When we have a success story it should be for each and every one of us.
“I will certainly ensure the University of Lagos is lifted to a higher pedestal than the point it was on the 12th of August when I was appointment. Our core responsibilities include research, teaching and community service.”
Before addressing journalists, Soyombo had met with some members of staff to brief them about his immediate plans for the workers.
Reacting to the rejection of his appointment by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNILAG chapter, Soyombo said: “ASUU is our union; I am a member of ASUU. We will continue to dialogue with ourselves. It is rare to have 100 per cent agreement in any organisation or group; there will always be different opinions. We need a cordial and peaceful environment for us to progress and discharge our duties.”
However, the Chairman of ASUU-UNILAG, Dr. Dele Ashiru, said despite Soyombo’s olive branch, the union’s position remained unchanged.
“As far as our university is concerned, our position remained unchanged. The process leading to the appointment of the so-called acting VC is not known to the books of the university.
“The Senate of the university is the highest decision-making organ on academic affairs, the Senate has spoken and that remained unchanged. A VC will not assume office by addressing pressmen and some disgruntled members of staff. You take charge when you take off,” Ashiru said.