Concerned Alumni Write Open Letter to Education Minister over Handling of Unilag Crisis

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Concerned alumni of the University of Lagos on the platform of Unilag for Good have written an open letter to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, raising several questions on the handling of the Unilag crisis by the ministry.

The letter signed by a retired Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Professor Boniface Oye-Adeniran, read: “We, the concerned alumni of the University of Lagos, wish to request from you answers to the following questions:

“Why did you set up an inappropriate Panel to investigate the removal of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos? Why did your Ministry produce Terms of Reference that were deliberately designed to cover up the scandalous mismanagement of the University of Lagos under Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe?

“Why did you dissolve a brilliant, purposeful and selfless body of external members of Governing Council of the University of Lagos made up of the following persons? Dr. B. O. Babalakin, (Chairman), Alhaji Ali Hussein, Rev. Yomi Kasali, Dr. Saminu Dagari and Dr. Bayo Adaralegbe.”

The letter said the Chairman of the Panel had noted in his letter to the minister on October 7, 2020 that the Special Visitation Panel set up for the University of Lagos, was not an objective Panel.

“It was a fraud on the nation as it was clearly and openly one-sided. To buttress this, the Chairman remarked that: ‘When you read the Report, you will notice that it was very one-sided so to speak, the option was for the Chairman to refuse to sign the report and would have been a slap on the Government’s face.

‘There are a number of memoranda sympathetic to the Chairman for the good work he was doing and for his being above board when it came to financial probity…’ ”

Raising more questions, the concerned alumni asked the minister: “Why did you remove an outstanding Governing Council to support a Management that has engaged in contract splitting which is a crime under Sections 20(e) and 58(3)(d) of the Procurement Act? In the words of the Chairman: ‘Take the issue of splitting of contracts so that the figures would be within his approval limits; in the renovation of his house and that of some Principal officers the evidence was clear, one Contractor would be given four contracts on the same subject on the same day each packaged to be within VCs approval limit.“

Describing it as criminal action, the concerned alumni said such should not occur in any decent society much less a University.

“Is this the sort of University that the Ministry of Education wants?

“The Panel also saw Evidence of frivolous expenditure which was one of the reasons why Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe was removed from office. According to the Chairman: ‘On the issue of frivolous expenditure at the expense of the core mandate of the University, teaching and research, within the period in question VC and his cronies (allegedly) undertook 75 external trips costing hundreds of millions of Naira, while the total annual DTLC of all the Departments of the University was just N35million per annum.“

The letter further said, “The Bursary of the University either participated in fraud or condoned fraud. Yet, you reinstated this Management. Is it government’s policy to condone financial crime? According to the Chairman of the Panel: ‘On the accusation of Management hiding financial status of the University from Council, the Bursar disclosed that he only presented Budget Performance to the F&GPC not the whole Treasury content. Apparently some almost N10 billion was never visible to the Council, yet interested parties in the panel harassed him and cajoled him in to retracting his statement, swearing that they have seen reports to council that contained such information.

“That by the actions of your Ministry, you have undermined discipline in Nigerian universities. As remarked by the Chairman of the Panel in his letter to the Chief of Staff to the President, ‘… it will be impossible for any council to manage a university in this country, if the recommendations of the panel are implemented.’

“That did you have to go this far in undermining the educational system in Nigeria to protect Ogundipe’s gross mismanagement of the University of Lagos?

“We, the concerned alumni of the University of Lagos, ‘Unilag for Good,’ demand answers to these questions.”

Prof. Oye-Adeniran, who signed the open letter was a member, University of Lagos Appointments and Promotions Board from 2014 to 2018; member, University of Lagos Governing Council from 2017 to 2019; and past National President, Nigerian Medical Association 1993 to 1997.