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LASU: Govt sets up visitation panel as legislators indict VC

By Emmanuel Edukugho
The Lagos State Government has set up a visitation panel to look into the crisis rocking Lagos State University (LASU) just as the report of the 6-man committee of the State House of Assembly on the lingering crisis indicted the vice chancellor among other things, for contract splitting, violation of the N2 million approval limit, irregular appointment, discrepancy between the approved, budget and the figure being quoted by the university.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Bamidele Opeyemi, who stated the position of Government appealed to all the parties in the conflict to co-operate with the visitation panel so as to resolve the dispute once and for all.
Members of the panel are Justice O.O. Silva (rtd) chairman, Professor Itse Sagay, Alhaja Lateefa Okunnu, Mrs S. Muri-Okunola and Mrs. Kaoli Olusanya.

Gov Babatunde Fashola, Visitor to LASU and Prof Lateef  Hussain, embattled LASU VC
Gov Babatunde Fashola, Visitor to LASU and Prof Lateef Hussain, embattled LASU VC

The panel has a period of four weeks from the date of inauguration to complete its assignmen and forward its report to the Visitor. Reacting to the setting up of the panel, Dr. Kabir Olusegun Akinyemi, Chairman ASUU/LASU told Vanguard Education Weekly:

“I will not say anything likely to pre-empt what they want to do. I hope they will do justice and be fair to all and sundry. I cannot comment on the individual members of the visitation panel. But they are people that have conscience and will come out with the truth. I expect Professor Sagay, a scholar and expert in constitutional law and the other highly respected members will come out on how LASU will be run and meet up with current trends in the academic world.”

However, Akinyemi and other executive members of ASUU/LASU frowned at government’s decision not to order the Vice Chancellor, Professor Lateef Akanni Hussain step aside until the panel completes its assignment.

Opeyemi  had insisted that the Vice Chancellor will remain in office until all the matters are resolved, saying that asking him to step aside will amount to “crucifying him.”

He explained that the issues involved in the LASU crisis go beyond removing the VC from office, because the removal of Prof Hussain or any other officer will not immediately solve the problems in the university.

According to him, the VC is not a casual worker nor a contract staff which can just be removed. “We are, therefore, calling on all members of staff of the University, both academic and non-academic, to report back to campus and return to their duty post to ensure restoration of normal activities not later than Friday, 4th December, 2009.”

Meanwhile, the report of the 6-man committee set up by the Lagos State House of Assembly on the lingering crisis in LASU has been released.

Members of the committee were Hon. Kolawole Taiwo (Chairman), who is the majority leader of the House, Dr. A.M. Balogun, Mrs L.F Akande, Alawiye-King W, Sadiq A.Y. Mr. E.O. Olaosebikan (Secretary) and Mrs Alaja – Browne O.O. (Secretary).

Terms of reference of the committee are;

(i) To determine the immediate and remote causes of the crisis in LASU; (ii) To investigate the allegations leveled against the University’s incumbent Vice Chancellor, Prof. Lateef Akanni Hussain by ASUU, and other  groups such as SSANU, NAAT, NASU and SUG; and (iii) To make recommendations that would resolve the challenges confronting the university.

The inaugural meeting took place on Tuesday, 12th October, 2009. For purpose of cross-examination and seeking clarification raised during the public hearing, the committee met on several days thereafter.
Some of the findings were:

Splitting of Contracts: The committee was shocked when it learned from the vice chancellor that there were cases when he was involved in splitting contracts because of the urgency involved.

Recommendation: The committee views the issue of splitting contract with disdain. As a matter of fact, contract splitting is done to circumvent financial guidelines or beat protocol.

Therefore, the committee recommends that the vice chancellor should henceforth desist from this anomaly and comply strictly with the University’s laid down rules on contract award and execution.

Violation of N2m Approval Limit

The committee discovered that the vice chancellor on a number of occasions violated the N2m approval limit set for him by the governing council. The committee considered this anomaly seriously and guessed that the vice chancellor might have been taking some actions unilaterally without consulting with or receiving approval from the Governing council of the university.

Recommendation

The committee recommends that the Vice Chancellor should henceforth desist from taking actions unilaterally on financial matters or any other administrative decisions that require authorisation from the Governing Council or inputs of the Department /Faculty Heads.

Prof. A.G.A. Bello

The Committee requested Prof. A.G.A. Bello to make clarification on his appointment as a Professor and Head of Department of Philosophy and he availed the committee of the following:

* that he was on deferred leave from University of Ibadan (UI) in November 2005 as a senior lecturer;
* that, he became Professor in LASU in 2007 when he was on sabbatical appointment;
* that, he is now Head of Philosophy Department on leave of absence from UI;

* that, his leave of absence expired in October, 2009 and that he had asked UI to transfer his service to LASU.
Recommendation

The committee considered the case of Prof. A.G.A. Bello and recommended that the Professor should expedite the process of transferring his service to LASU, to justify his headship at philosophy department of the university.

However, the professor is not qualified for the position of the full professor because at the time he became a professor in LASU in 2007, he was on sabbatical from UI, and could not have been qualified for appointment for a professorial chair except if he had resigned his appointment with UI at the time; and that he is still a senior lecturer with UI and could only be referred to as a “Visiting Professor” in LASU.

Mrs Olapeju Aina Awoliyi, Bursar, LASU

The committee, while examining the LASU Bursar, made the following observations:
(a) that, there was a discrepancy, between the approved budget on Retained Revenue for LASU by the House of Assembly and the figure being quoted by the university.

For clarity, whereas the sum of N5.7 Billion was approved as Retained Revenue, only the sum of N3.5 billion was being quoted as correct figure for year 2009.

(b) that LASU receives N2.9 billion yearly as subvention and N240 million monthly.
( c) that LASU allegedly has up to 3000 staff strength.

Given the above findings, the committee requested the Bursar to furnish it the following documents –
1) Statement of Income and Expenditure of the University in the last five (5) years.
(2) Bank statement showing all revenues for the same period;
(3) Salary schedules of staff;
(4) Names of Banks being patronised by the university;
(5) The Governing council’s extracts on expenditure costing N2 million  above.


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