LASU CRISIS: LAGOS GOVT LEGITIMISING IMPUNITY- UAD| RIGHTS MONITORS

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The Lagos state government has been accused of insincerity and deliberate attempt towards legitimising impunity and encourage corruption by a human rights body, United Action for Democracy (UAD).

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This was revealed in a statement signed by the General Secretary of the organisation Comrade Kunle Wiseman Ajayi, issued to criticize the position of Lagos State government on the crisis rocking the state’s university, Lagos State University (LASU), saying that the state government is not saying the truth.

United Action for Democracy (UAD), was by its position reacting to an interview granted by the Special Assistant on Education to Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, on state of affairs in the tertiary institutions in Lagos State, in the Nation newspaper, recently,

The activist said, the governor’s aide, Mr. Waheed Tokunbo’s statement on four consecutive convocation ceremonies conducted by the current leadership of the institution as the only ‘good performance and achievement’, is low in the famed State of Excellence.

The governor’s aide, Waheed, had in an interview in the Nation newspaper of Sunday, June 28, 2020, stated that there was no crisis in LASU. He was also quoted to have measure four conservative as good performance of Vice Chancellor and immediate Past Governing Council as making the claim, and justifying it further by citing as evidence of good performance on the part of the Vice Chancellor and the immediate past Governing Council, the University’s holding of four consecutive convocation ceremonies.

However, the activist in a statement captioned: Lagos State government and LASU crisis: “Stop legitimizing impunity!”, described as unfortunate, that the Special Adviser on Education to the Governor, has reduced the metric of excellence so low in the famed State of Excellence by using the number of convocation to measure success.

Comrade Ajayi in reaction to the Governor’s Aide position said; “we find it as most unfortunate that the Special Adviser has reduced the metric of excellence so low in the famed State of Excellence by using the number of convocation to measure success. We also note his allusion to the immediate past Governing Council noted for unprecedented corruption and disregard for law and order as being responsible for peace in the University. It confirms our suspicion that some powerful people in government are seeking to foist corrupt members of the 10th Governing Council for another four years, not in the interest of the University, but on account of political expediency.

“In the interview, Mr Tokunbo Wahab described himself as ”a stickler for rules”. However, we are aware that the office of the SAE which he occupies is in possession of proofs of the alleged numerous atrocities of the outgoing leadership of the school, in connivance with the immediate past Governing Council.

“Starting from the cover up of the mismanagement of over N1.3 billion NEEDS Assessment Funds grant under the Obafunwa Administration, to the dismissal of whistleblowers who exposed the fraudulent procurement of promotion to the rank of Professor by the Vice Chancellor, Mr Olanrewaju Fagbohun (who had left LASU three years before the cooked promotion), and the illegal backdating of same for six years through the manipulation of the former University Registrar, Mr Akinwunmi Lewis, so he can be eligible to vie for the Vice-Chancellorship, as well as the corruption cases involving the Vice Chancellor and the Chair of the past Governing Council, Professor Adebayo Ninalowo on the illegal diversion of staff’s pension funds to procure luxury cars N198 million, while hiding same under emergency accreditation expenses (Premium Times, April 14th, 2019)”.

The activist also alleged that numerous controversies surrounding the current university administration and the past Council are serious issues that should bother any serious public officer superintending an institution like the State University. “The SAE, who in the interview described himself as a lawyer appears to us willing to sacrifice due process, transparency and conformity with the law with the peace of the graveyard in LASU, procured through various means of intimidation, including an oath of secrecy foisted on members of staff to keep a lid on the numerous cans of worms in the University.

“We also noted Mr Wahab’s displeasure with what he regarded as extra-judicial means of seeking redress by some members of staff in AOCOED. It is unbelievable that the dissonance involved in his logic on the LASU situation and other institutions experiencing crises is lost on him. The Special Adviser to have said that there is no crisis in LASU, and endorsing the alleged illegalities of the Administration of the institution, rather than commending those who have kept the peace in spite of provocations, “the SAE is effectively telling those who may have grievances to disrupt the peace of the institution in order to get the necessary intervention of the Visitor. If this is the doctrine of the Sanwo-Olu Administration, then we fear for what will become of higher education in Lagos State by the end of his tenure.

“While Mr Wahab may be satisfied with the peace of the grave yard in LASU, we as a labour friendly organization wish to advise the Governor, Mr Sanwo-Olu in the interest of lasting peace and justice, to be bold, fair and courageous in addressing the LASU conundrum.

“Burdening a new Vice Chancellor with a Governing Council that was in the bed of illegality with the outgoing Vice-Chancellor will only plunge the University into further crisis. We are also worried for LASU staff whose pension deductions have been tampered with, some of whom may be subjected to unpleasant experiences post-service. We request that the Lagos State Government ensure that these monies (with accruable interest) are refunded by the VC and Professor Ninalowo immediately, and that they be prosecuted for financial impropriety”.

The human rights activist reiterated the need to have a Visitation panel in LASU as required by the law, just as former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, did in 2009, “The law provides for a visitation every five years. LASU is an institution funded by tax payers’ money. We are convinced beyond doubt that LASU has the potential to be one of the best in Africa if the government gets its decisions right rather than prioritizing political considerations over and above best practices in its Administration”.

He also said, “for LASU to be free from crisis facing it, the current Governing Council of the institution should be dissolved and another one be constituted that will be objective in handling the myriad of unresolved issues and the crisis in the State’s Cidatel of knowledge”.

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