Harvest Of Queries: UNILAG Officers Mismanaging Funds, Say Dons

More revelations have emerged in the ongoing battle between some principal officers and lecturers at the University of Lagos, Akoka, and the Chairman of the Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin.

It was gathered that behind the curtains of queries and supremacy fight ongoing at the varsity were issues of alleged financial malpractices.

Aside alleged inflation of contract works for repairs, the residence of a former principal officer of the varsity was allegedly renovated with over N20m.

Babalakin, who reportedly got wind of the issues through insiders in the bursary department, was said to have confronted the principal officers.

Our correspondent had reported that the Registrar of UNILAG, Oladejo Azeez, gave queries to some management workers and lecturers of the university.

Those affected included the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe; the two deputy vice-chancellors, Folasade Ogunsola and Oluwole Familoni; a former VC, Rahamon Bello; the school former Registrar, Taiwo Ipaye; a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Duro Oni, among others.

Azeez, who is the secretary to the governing council, was said to be acting on the instruction of the chairman of the council, Babalakin.

The registrar was also served a query by the VC after he issued a statement against the Academic Staff Union of Universities, UNILAG, which criticised the council chairman for the queries.

Azeez was accused of ursuping the VC,  whom he was supposed to be reporting to.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that there had been wranglings between Babalakin and the varsity officials over his stance on some issues.

Our correspondent obtained documents and correspondences confirming this.

Babalakin was said to have rejected the recommendation of the university senate for the conferment of distinguished professorship on an academic in the institution, Prof. J.D. Olowokudejo.

The decision, which was criticised, was said to be unprecedented in the varsity.

In a letter to the ad hoc committee delegation of senate on conferment of distinguished professorship, the pro-chancellor, however, cited precedents of his decision.

While quoting sections of the University of Lagos Act, he insisted that council could reject a recommendation from the senate.

A professor in UNILAG, who did not want to be identified, said Babalakin’s action made him enemies.

He explained that after pleas from some members of the university, the pro-chancellor approved Olowokudejo for the honour.

The incident was said to have strained the relationship of Babalakin with the varsity top echelons.

Another senior varsity worker said a director in the bursary department, who had been relieved of her duties in controversial circumstances, connected with Babalakin.

“The woman has been feeding the pro-chancellor with information on the mismanagement of funds in the accounts department. The woman had stayed a long time in the system and knew how things were wrongly done. That informed the steps the pro-chancellor has been taking.

“They want to use ASUU to blackmail him; but the man has the power to query them; they should answer the queries.

“All the queries did not border on money; they were in different dimensions. There were those questioned on procedural errors and jumping of protocols. They took about N20m to renovate a house that had been built. The man saw all the records and decided to start asking questions about how university funds are being spent,” the source added.

According to a don, Babalakin had been disrupting the system, adding that the head of bursary was now selected after applications and exams.

“The current bursar came from the College of Medicine, Idi Araba, against the calculations of some people in the system,” he added.

The ASUU Chairman, Dr Dele Ashiru, said the union was not against the fight against corruption, adding that ASUU was only opposed to lack of due process.

He said, “ASUU cannot be used by anybody because it is a union of intellectuals. What should be noted is that we have been at daggers’ drawn with the pro-chancellor before the issue of the queries.

“He called heads of departments to a meeting, which he had no power to do. He also unilaterally stepped down the appointment of one of our colleagues duly recommended by senate and several entreaties to him failed. After his bloated ego had been massaged through a letter of apology, he then unilaterally asked the registrar to include the man’s name as one of those to be conferred with the honours.

“If anybody is corrupt, our union will support legitimate attempts to deal with such people. But everybody must act within the confines of the law. No one individual can be the accuser, investigator, prosecutor, judge and executioner. Our union will stand in principled opposition against it, no matter the blackmail.”

The VC, Ogundipe, and the pro-chancellor, Babalakin, did not respond to text messages from our correspondent as of the time of filing this report.

PMetros

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