Prof. Hamman Tukur Saad, Chairman of the Special Visitation Panel on the crisis in the University of Lagos (UNILAG), has questioned some recommendations of the committee in its report, including the recall of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, the embattled Vice Chancellor of the institution.
Tukur, who expressed regret at signing the panel’s report, stated this in an October 7, 2020 personal letter to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, and a November 10, 2020 letter to the Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari.
He explained that he rather signed the report on the understanding that the matter would be referred to the Shehu of Borno as the Chancellor.
The report was acted upon by President Muhammadu Buhari, the university’s Visitor, to dissolve the Governing Council and reinstate the sacked Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
Tukur’s letter to Prof. Gambari reads: “As Chairman, I didn’t want to sign the Final Report, but I felt that would be a slap on the face of the government and it would generate so much bad publicity in the public domain, that I would rather sign on the understanding that the matter would be referred to the Shehu of Borno, as the Chancellor.
“As it stands now, I feel I was made a fool of and stabbed on the back by people I trusted. Furthermore, it will be impossible for any Council to manage a university in this country, if the recommendations of the panel are implemented in a Whitepaper.”
He also told Gambari that he felt he “was made a fool of and stabbed on the back by people I trusted.”
He told Prof Gambari that as soon as the panel was inaugurated, he secured the mandate of the Federal Ministry of Education to bring in the Chancellor to mediate in the UNILAG crisis and that the “Final recommendation of the panel was that the matter should be referred back to the Chancellor, irrespective of what the panel recommended.”
“As chairman, I didn’t want to sign the Final Report but I felt that would be a slap on the face of the government and it would generate so much bad publicity in the public domain , that I would rather sign on the understanding that the matter would be referred to the Shehu of Borno as the Chancellor.”
He added that “It will be impossible for any Council to manage a university in this country if the recommendations of the panel are implemented in a Whitepaper.”
He complained that “A Whitepaper based on the report submitted by the panel and neglecting the final recommendation of referring will raise many questions.”
Prof. Saad had also in a letter to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, casted doubt on the integrity of the report submitted by the panel on Thursday, 17th September, 2020.
In the letter dated 7 October, 2020 entitled: “Re: Submission of Report of the Visitation Panel on the University of Lagos Crisis to Honourable Minister” he said the panel report was one-sided because majority of the members were biased in support of Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe while the Terms of Reference (ToR) were also skewed against Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN).
He told the minister 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 that would have been a slap on the government’s face. In any case, the issue is not that the report was false but it contained half truth in order to protect one party and magnified the facts from the other party by pushing the blame to one side, omitting what could have balanced the report.”
He stressed that “In case you may like to read between the lines on some of the recommendations as they affect the Management, especially, the Vice Chancellor.
“As far as the majority of the team was concerned they would like to save the VC’s who was presented as a victim, having been sacked by the Council and no effort was spared in minimising his faults.”
On the issue of splitting contracts so that the figures would be within his approval limits, the letter reads part: “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 project on the same day each package to be within VCs approval limit.
“A number of such cases were evident, but the only way the Chairman could get that in the report was to compromise by rendering such as “Contracts were packaged in a way that bordered on contract splitting, in order to keep them within approval limits.”
He said, the recommendation was VC should be cautioned against contract splitting, he, however, noted that “this was enough for Government to reject this recommendation and subject the culprit to the consequences.”
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 undertook 75 external trips costing hundreds of millions of Naira, while the total annual DTLC of all the Departments of the University was just N35 million per annum.
Again the recommendation was that the money they took for local travel while on overseas trips should be refunded by beneficiaries.
“While the VC got approval for his own trips from Chairman, he, in turn, approved all the others which Council was never aware.
“Again Chairman of panel could not obtain a consensus on how to handle this. So it was left to Government. On the accusation of Management hiding the 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 tocouncil that contained such information,” he added.