… He had barely settled into office as VC when we began to notice lack of transparency under his management – Council
Despite claims by Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe that he was not given fair hearing on allegations of financial malpractices before he was sacked as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos by the Governing Council on Wednesday, emerging facts point to the contrary.
It has now emerged that a six –page document was actually presented by him to the Governing Council at its Special Meeting on Monday, 13th May , 2019.
In document titled THAT UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS MAY KNOW PEACE : Submission of Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS , Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos to the Governing Council at its Special Meeting on Monday 13th May 2019, he said among others that : (i) The composition of the Sub-Committee on Finance was defective ab inito. Despite the strong reservation of some members of Council, because the council is blessed with the presence of an award winning Professor of Public Sector Accounting and Budgeting in the person of Prof Eddy Omolehinwa, Pro-Chancellor decided to appoint a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry with no accounting background or experience, Dr. Saminu Dagara.
He also said that : (vi) Sub committees by convention are usually given a time frame within which to report on their findings , none was given this Committee, it is therefore no wonder that the committee spent over six months on the assignment, sat for over 40 times and in the process incurred a bill of over 7 million by way of sitting allowance , hotel expenditure as well as feeding at meetings, 80% of which went to Dr. Saminu Dagari. It is also important to point out here that the External Audit Firms appointed by Council for the regular one-year audit of the University’s finances only cost 5.2 million naira only.
(vii) It is also instructive to note that simultaneously within the same period, the Pro-Chancellor had authorized an External Audit firm of his choosing to look into the books of the university for which he paid from his personal account. The report of his External Auditors had noted were some weaknesses in some internal control but did not detect fraud. They also made their recommendations as appropriate in a report.
However, the Governing Council based on the report of the Dr. Saminu Dagara’s committee stated that :
ACTS OF FINANCIAL RECKLESSNESS, GROSS MISCONDUCT AND SERIOUS ABUSE OF OFFICE OF PROFESSOR OLUWATOYIN OGUNDIPE AS VICE CHANCELLOR UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS
- Serious Financial Mismanagement of University of Lagos
A. Professor Ogundipe had barely settled into office as Vice Chancellor when we began to notice a lack of transparency under his management both at the University’s Finance and General Purpose Committee (F&GPC) and Council meetings. Professor Ogundipe failed to share with Council and F&GPC management’s procurement and Tender Board activities. Ultimately things came to a head in 2018 when Council was forced to set up a Sub-Committee under one of its members, Dr Saminu Dagari, an appointee of the Federal Government to review the University’s Expenditure. This Sub-Committee worked for a period of 6(six) months. At the end of its investigation the Committee made very serious findings that indicted Professor Toyin Ogundipe and some of his management team. Amongst others, the Committee found as follows.
a. Without Council approval and far in excess of his approval limits of N2M, Professor Ogundipe as Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos paid out a total sum of N112, 462,990.63 to renovate the official living quarters of three principal staff. Professor Ogundipe approved the sum of N49,434,038.45 to renovate the Vice Chancellor’s lodge where he resided; the sum of N41,817,658.32 was paid out for renovation works of the Bursar’s official residence while the sum of N16, 123, 509.00 was spent on renovating the official residence of the immediate past Registrar of the University. Also, the sum of N3,733,494.85 was spent renovating the official residence of the Chancellor while the sum of N1,354,290.00 was spent renovating the Pro Chancellor’s official residence. It bears repeating Sir, that none of this spending was brought to the knowledge of, or approved by Council in accordance with due process, the University Act and extant guidelines on Financial Regulations.
b. Professor Toyin Ogundipe’s management spent a total sum of N57,272,050.44 on waste management and janitorial services in breach of procurement laws and practices. These payments were not evidenced by any contract and did not receive Council approval at all.
c. Professor Toyin Ogundipe’s management spent the sum of N52,080,000.00 on the purchase of two vehicles well above the University Tender Board’s threshold limit. This was achieved by a contract splitting device that is very illegal.
d. Professor Toyin Ogundipe’s management spent a total sum of N57,921,581.00 on the foreign trips of himself and some of his management team. The Dagari committee found that the Vice Chancellor was able to approve these payments based on an illegal contract splitting device. The committee also found that local allowances were paid for these foreign trips in breach of the Financial Regulations of 1999.
e. Between May 2017 and September 2018 Professor Toyin Ogundipe’s management paid out a total sum of N41,580,300.00 to the Dean of Student Affairs through a monthly payment of N2,445,900.00. Even though Professor Ogundipe justified this payment as a security grant, this was never to the University Council’s knowledge or approval and the Dean received these monies at a time when students were not on campus or when lecturers were on strike. Furthermore, the former Dean of Students Affairs who served in this position before Professor Ogundipe became Vice Chancellor has denied that this is conventional practice.
f. Council approved a budget in the sum of N85,000,000.00 for the University’s 2018 convocation ceremonies based on management’s budget, proposed by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Toyin Ogundipe. Dr Dagari’s committee found out that Professor Ogundipe’s management significantly exceeded this approved budget by the sum of N9,739,977.89. In other words, without any Council approval or knowledge Professor Ogundipe spent the sum of N94,739,977.89 on the 2018 convocation as against the sum of N85,000,0000.00 that Council approved.
Professor Toyin Ogundipe was giving an opportunity to address these allegations. He has not denied any of these payments or spendings. Rather, he has sought to justify them on the basis that he was in a position to approve these payments.
B. In December 2019, as a result of estimate numbers that were manifestly unreliable that the University Bursar provided to Council, Council set up a Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of one of its members, Professor Eddy Omolehinwa a Professor of Public Sector Accounting, to review Management’s Budget Estimates. Other members of this committee were drawn from various departments in the University. This Committee submitted its report to Council in March 2020. The findings of this Committee were as follows, amongst others:
a. The University of Lagos had the sum of N9,797,756,723.50 in its credit. It is necessary to state that as the statutory custodian of the University’s finances, and after nearly three years of inauguration, and several F & GPC and Council meetings during this period and so many enquiries made about the University’s finances, Council was learning of the University’s real financial position for the first time through this committee. Up to this point Professor Ogundipe and the Bursar had painted a very parlous picture of the University’s finances that prevented Council from taking progressive decisions in the University’s interest. For instance, the University has been unable to embark on any serious capital project during this period. In 2018 Professor Ogundipe’s management very grudgingly agreed to suggestions of Council for each faculty to receive a grant of N2,000,000.00 as running costs on account of lack of funding.
b. This committee found out that, out of an estimated internally generated sum of N5,504,298,315.00 the University of Lagos management had a budget estimate of N147,000,000 to be expended on all the University departments i.e. 2.7% while the sum of N300,000,000.00 was estimated as budget for janitorial services for the same period. I am unable to find any justification whatsoever for a University Professor, let alone a University Vice Chancellor proposing to spend so much less for academic activities, the very basis why the University doors are open every day, compared to an incidental activity such as cleaning.
c. Compared to an estimated and approved budget of N70,000,000.00 that Professor Ogudipe’s management sought, and that Council approved for the NUGA games that the University was to host in 2019, out of which the sum of N30,000,000.00 was spent, the University of Lagos management under Prof Ogundipe proposed a budget estimate of N200,000,000.00 for the same NUGA games that were moved to 2020, in just a space of one year. As a Nigerian who is on a number of Boards, I am unable to understand the very sharp increase in Professor Toyin Ogundipe’s NUGA budget estimate for 2020.
d. Compared to an estimated and approved budget of N90,000,000.00 for the University’s security in 2019, the University of Lagos management under Prof Ogundipe proposed a budget estimate of N180,000,000.00 for the same security in 2020, in just a space of one year.
e. Professor Toyin Ogundipe pressured the Director of Works into approving payment of the approximate sum of N33,000,000.00 to a University contractor whose invoice the Director of Works had queried because of the substandard nature of work that the Contractor performed. According to the Director, the Vice Chancellor’s demand and pressure was coming despite being fully aware of the Director’s well documented professional advice that this payment was most undeserving.
f. Management and Unilag Consult under Professor Toyin Ogundipe sought to pay approximately N150,000,000.00 to a Contractor out of TetFund funds. Professor Ogundipe initiated this attempt to pay. According to the Director of Works, his own verification revealed that this amount was not owed to the Contractor at all.
g. On Professor Toyion Ogundipe’s instructions, the subordinate of the Director of Works was authorizing the University Bursar to make payments to Contractors. This is a breach of established procedure that provides that payments by the University can only be made by the head of the University’s Works Directorate.
C. In the last 6 months, Professor Ogundipe has recklessly been spending university money without giving any accounts. For instance, while the Council approved spending towards staff palliative for COVID, he claimed he spend N67M on this without providing any breakdown of his spending.
- University of Lagos’s Serious Governance problems
a. At its meeting dated 27th September 2018, Council was informed that an interview process for the appointment of the University’s Director of Works was rigged in favour of a particular candidate and that Prof Ogundipe who presided over this interview process was very complicit in this rigging. Three Council members were in attendance at this Interview process as Council representatives in accordance with the University Code. These Council members were Reverend Yomi Kasali, Dr Saminu Dagari and Dr Bayo Adaralegbe, all appointees and representatives of the Federal government on the Council. Dr Dagari and Dr Adaralegbe separately informed Council that the initial interview scores placed a candidate from outside the University in the first place. However, Prof Ogundipe as chairman of that interview session demanded that this result be withdrawn and cross checked. At the time he made this statement there was no apparent basis for it. However when the scores were released again, the candidate that was placed in third place had emerged in first place. It is necessary to state that this candidate that suddenly emerged in first place from third place was initially disqualified by Council from participating in the interview process based on the report of a management committee that indicted him. He was allowed to participate in the process by Council based on appeals from Professor Ogundipe. According to Dr Bayo Adaralegbe, Professor Toyin Ogundipe physically threatened him during this process because of his (Dr Adaralegbe’s) insistence that the second result was flawed, rigged and was not tenable. Not only did Dr Saminu Dagari corroborate Dr Adaralegbe’s account, one Prof Dada who was part of the process as one of Senate’s representatives admitted during the process that he indeed altered his marks in favour of the Vice Chancellor’s preferred candidate when the initial scores were released. The Vice Chancellor never denied any of these accounts during the Council meeting. Prof Ben Ogbujiafor, one of the University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor who was also in attendance at this Interview equally did not deny these accounts. Council requested to see and was able to verify and confirm from the score sheets used by the Interview panel that marks were truly altered for the candidate that subsequently emerged in first place. Based on this, Council was forced to cancel this interview process that Professor Toyin Ogundipe presided over. This incident directly calls into question Professor Toyin Ogundipe’s moral capacity to lead the University and his integrity.
b. By an undated Memorandum to the Pro Chancellor by by Prof Ogundipe in March 2019, but that was not included in Council supporting documents for its meetings, Prof Ogundipe, without formally raising it in Council, privately sought approval of Pro Chancellor for the appointment of one Dr (Mrs) Olukemi Fadehan at that time the University Librarian, as a “Professor Librarian, University of Lagos”. It is necessary to state that the well-established procedure for the appointment of a professor in the university was a fundamentally departed from by Professor Toyin Ogundipe. By these well laid down rules, candidates for the position of Professor are recommended to the University Council by the University’s Appointment and Promotions Board. Council then exhaustively deliberates on, and treats the recommendation of the Appointment and Promotions Board. Prof Ogundipe curiously chose not to do this. Rather, he singled out one candidate for appointment as Professor, did not bring this to the attention of Council and failed to attach any recommendation of the Appointment and Promotion Board to the Memorandum that he wanted me to approve. What is more, the University of Lagos does not have a Department of Library Studies nor does it admit undergraduate students or post graduate students for Library Studies.
c. The Management of University of Lagos under Prof Ogundipe sought to hold the 2020 University of Lagos Convocation without any Council approval. At its January 20th and 21st Council meetings, Prof Ogundipe formally sought, with supporting documents, Council’s approval for the convocation budget. This was approved by Council. Prof Ogundipe and his management did not seek and Council did not approve any program for this convocation. Furthermore, Prof Ogundipe and his management did not seek and Council did not approve for any persons to be awarded with honorary doctorate degrees of the University at the convocation. Finally, Prof Ogundipe and his management did not seek for approval of any person for the award of Emeritus Professor of the university. Under the University of Lagos Act as well as the University of Lagos Regulations Governing Conditions of Service, only Council is vested with the power to award honorary degrees and Emeritus Professor to persons, based on Senate’s recommendation. Council did not receive any recommendation from Senate for any of these awards. As custodian of the University’s finances and assets under the University of Lagos Act, and as is standard and conventional practice everywhere, the University of Lagos management under Professor Toyin Ogundipe was obligated to advise Council of its proposed program for the convocation. This was also not done. Pro Chancellor communicated in writing with Professor Ogundipe through email about these infractions and irregularities. Prof Ogundipe ignored this and proceeded to address a press conference in which he informed the public of the convocation program, the proposed award of Honorary degrees and the appointment of an Emeritus Professor.
d. At the University’s F & GPC Meeting of 3rd March 2020 Rev Yomi Kasali, a Council member and Federal Government appointee, informed Council that based on his interaction with the management of the University of Lagos Press, payments that this unit invoiced for and that the University paid out to it on account of printing jobs that were meant to have been passed to it by the university, were actually for the ultimate benefit of third party company contractors outside of the University. According to Rev Kasali, the management of the University of Lagos Press only received commissions of these payments from these third party contractors and this explained why the Press was running at a huge loss. This experience is symptomatic of what pervades the University under Prof Ogundipe’s leadership.
e. On 4th March 2020 the Vice Chancellor convened a Senate meeting of the University under his own hand. This meeting was clearly irregular as the Vice Chancellor side lined the Registrar of the University who is legally recognized as the convener of all Senate meetings. The University of Lagos Code provides clearly that the Registrar shall convene Senate meetings and shall be Secretary at those meetings unless when the Registrar is absent. The University of Lagos’s Registra by name Oladejo Azeez was in fact available throughout this period. For instance, he was available as Secretary of Council during Council meeting of the same day and was available the day before at F & GPC meeting. This is yet another example of how Professor Ogundipe undermines the University’s governance structures and systems. I have attached to this letter Sir, the Registrar’s Petition to me of the Vice Chancellor’s action sidelining him without any justification. He has transferred Registry staff under the Registrar without the Registrar’s knowledge.
f. By an email dated 30th May 2019 Professor Toyin Ogundipe advised Pro Chancellor that he was allowing the Contractor in charge of the construction of the new University Library building (that had partially collapsed) to return to site temporarily and indeed carried this out. Prior to this period, Council had set up a committee to investigate circumstances leading to the collapse of this building. This committee had recommended that the Contractor’s contract be terminated. Clearly, Professor Ogundipe sought to undermine his Council and Pro Chancellor.
g. In 2018 Professor Toyin Ogundipe sought Council’s approval of a proposal for a fund raising event for the University from the public. By the terms of this proposal, the University was to pay 20% of all the income generated from this fund raising to a firm that was organizing the event. The firm that was to be paid this commission did not undertake to raise a minimum sum for the University, nor was it spending any of its resources on the event. Yet, the Vice Chancellor agreed to pay it 20% of the entire income generated. Council felt this was very wrong and promptly queried this very strange proposal that was both unethical and illegal, and that was bound to expose the University. Needless to say that Pro Chancellor voluntarily agreed to spend N5,500,000.00 of his personal resources to host this event that Professor Toyin Ogundipe sought Council approval for, in order to protect the University from any reckless spending. He has not informed Council if any money was raised from this event There are simply so many examples of the legal and ethical problems that bedevil Professor Ogundipe’s management.
h. An Acting Director of Works was appointed for the University for a period of 1(one) year. When his contract expired the person, in accordance with the terms of his contract sought an extension of his employment directly from Council. Because of the lockdown, Council was unable to deal with his request even though very favourably disposed to it. As a matter of fact, in the course of seeking this extension, Council gave this Director of Works some special assignments while he sat with us at Council meetings, even when his contract of employment expired. This was well known to Professor Ogundipe. Professor Ogundipe has now, on his own without reverting to the Council that appointed this acting Director, directed him to hand over his duties to another person. He broke into his office two weeks ago and removed files. The Director has presented a petition of fraud against Professor Ogundipe in respect of contract awards in the university.
i. In his term as Vice Chancellor Professor Ogundipe has embarked on several foreign trips, many of them without any clear basis. Professor Ogundipe has embarked on some of these trips without seeking the approval of the Pro Chancellor of the University in breach of well-established Civil service rules.