UNILAG Crisis: Reps absolve management of corruption allegation, fault governing council composition

University of Lagos (UNILAG). [Photo credit: Students Nigeria]
University of Lagos (UNILAG). [Photo credit: Students Nigeria]

The House of Representatives on Thursday received and approved the report of its committee on public procurement, which investigated the crisis rocking the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, over allegation of abuse of public procurement laws by the institution’s management.

The 16-member committee, chaired by Oluwole Oke, representing Obokun/Oriade federal constituency in Osun State, said contrary to the report of violations of extant laws and corruption allegations levelled against the university management, it found the schools’ accounting books clean.

The committee, however, recommended a review of the composition of the university’s governing council, saying its current membership composition “is not in tandem with federal character principle as there are no representatives from the south-east, south-south and north-central.”

It suggested that the matter should be brought to the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and that action must be seen to be taken on the matter.

The committee, in its 12-page report, a copy of which PREMIUM TIMES obtained, also gave a verdict on the university’s seven-floor library under construction, which collapsed.

According to the report, seven major concerned stakeholders in the matter including the governing council chairman, Wale Babalakin; university’s vice-chancellor, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, and representatives of Dutum Company Limited, Landmark Integrated Technologies Limited, CPMS Limited, Tubee Consult and Interactive Engineering Consult Limited, made written submissions and gave relevant documents to the committee in the course of its assignment.

The report also said there is no evidence to support the allegation that Mr.Babalakin had planned to take over the chairmanship of the UNILAG’s tenders’ board. It, however, commended the council chairman for his cash donations to the institution and instructed the university management to acknowledge the support and issue receipts.

It would be recalled that following the widespread report of conflicts between the UNILAG management and the governing council leadership over allegations of fraudulent practices bordering on contracts award and clash of interests, the House of Representatives had ordered its committee to wade in and submit the report of its findings within weeks.

The committee, which sat with relevant stakeholders and visited the institution for on-the-spot assessment of the situation, and particularly the collapsed library, noted that communication gap between the university management and the governing council had led to the crisis.

Committee’s recommendations

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Following the findings highlighted above, the Committee made the following recommendations regarding the UNILAG crisis:

“The Committee found no infractions and breach of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007 in the award of contracts particularly the University New Library Project awarded to Messrs Dutum Construction Ltd;

“The Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Accounting Officer of the University which is in line with Section 20 of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and should continue to discharge this responsibility as expected by law, while, the Governing Council should stick to their supervisory role of policy formulation and fund generation for the University. The Council should not meddle in the internal management of the university.

“The Committee found no evidence that the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman, Governing Council intend or assumed the position of the Chairman of the Tenders Board. Such an action would have contravened the provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007;

“The Committee found that the Pro-Chancellor has consistently made donations to the University and it is a notable and commendable feat. All donations from the Pro-Chancellor should be acknowledged and receipted by the University;

“Both the Governing Council and members and Management of the University are hereby advised to cooperate with one another and work together for the progress of the University;

“The current Director of Works and Planning was not properly engaged, the new Director of Works and Planning should be employed in line with the provisions of relevant laws.

“In future, the Pro-Chancellor should allow the University to comply with the Public Procurement Act 2007 and follow due process strictly, whenever a Consultant will be hired;

“Based on the Committee’s investigation, on the spot inspection of the site, engagement of all stakeholders, review of Expert Reports and Submissions and hearings/meetings with the Consultants and other stakeholders, the Committee noted that after the incidence, an integrity test was conducted on the building. The tests reveal that the building is safe and construction work can continue after remedial steps are taken, like removal of the debris, backfilling and very close supervision by competent experts.

“In view of the above and to avoid further damage to the ongoing University New Library Project, the contractor should go back to the site with immediate effect and backfill the foundation and remove the debris of the collapsed framework under the strict supervision of competent experts;

“The Federal Ministry of Education, TETFund and UNILAG should jointly review the project and make additional funds for it so that the project will not be abandoned;

“The Federal Ministry of Education should immediately call a meeting of both the Council and University Management to clearly define their functions and roles as expressed in the University Act and PPA 2007;

“Although the Committee could not establish any evidence of malfeasance or financial misappropriation by the Management of the University, the University should take pro-active and immediate steps to improve its internal control mechanism and systems;

“The composition of the Governing Council of the University (UNILAG) as presently constituted is not in tandem with the Federal Character principle as there are no representatives from the South – East, South-South and North – Central. This should be escalated to the Presidency and the Federal Character Commission for corrective steps to be taken.”

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