President Muhammadu Buhari has named Wale Babalakin as the head of a federal government team to renegotiate the 2009 agreement with unions in federal universities, federal polytechnics and federal colleges of education in order to ensure sustainable peace and industrial harmony in tertiary institutions in the country.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, in a statement yesterday, said the re-negotiation team would dialogue with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Associated & Allied Institutions (NASU).
There was a time when Babalakin had the ears and hearts of the country’s leadership. Under former president Olusegun Obasanjo, he was named as Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Sub-Committee of the National Political Reforms Conference in 2005; Member, National Political Reforms Conference in 2005 and Vice Chairman of the Committee on the Review of the Evidence Act CAP 112 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990, in 2005.
Following the election of the late Umaru Musa Yaradua as president in 2007, Babalakin was appointed as the Honorary Special Adviser on Legal Matters and General Counsel to the President. Yaradua also conferred him with the National Honour of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) in February 2008 and appointed him as Pro-chancellor of the University of Maiduguri and Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigeria Federal Universities.
Meanwhile his businesses – Bi-courtney Limited, Babalakin & Co, Chartered Investment Limited, Resort International Limited and Roygate Properties Limited – were Enjoying great times.
Things went south following Yaradua’s death. It was believed that as general counsel to Yaradua, Babalakin was one of those who made arguments against the ascension of then vice president Goodluck Jonathan as acting president when his boss took seriously ill.
Jonathan did not forget the spite.
Babalakin endured tough times under Jonathan. The contract awarded to Bi-courtney Limited for the repair of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was revoked; EFCC sued Babalakin over an alleged N4.7 billion fraud and even declared him wanted at some point; AMCON also sued his companies over the huge amount of debts owed.
With the loss of Jonathan in 2015, Babalakin’s fortunes seem to have turned as well. Last year, an arbitration tribunal ordered the federal government to pay Resort International Limited, a company owned by Dr. Wale Babalakin, a whopping N54 billion as damages for failing in its obligations under the Development Lease Agreement (DLA) entered into by both parties when the company acquired the old secretariat complex in Ikoyi, Lagos under the sale of federal government’s assets in the state.
The latest example of the turnaround for Babalakin is his appointment as head of the FG negotiation team with the unions in higher institutions.
To be fair, Babalakin has plenty of experience on this issue. He was a pro-chancellor at the time of the negotiations in 2009 and headed the agreement implementation committee.