There is a huge ruckus at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, over a petition detailing wide-ranging corruption, abuse of office and mismanagement of funds to the tune of N1.1 billion during the tenure of Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan.
The petition, seen by FIJ, was written by Ademola Dasylva, a Professor of African Literature, Oral Poetics and Performance, in May and sent to the 2021 Presidential Visitation Panel to the University of Ibadan, headed by Attahiru Jega, a professor and former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Listed as Olayinka’s accomplice in the several acts of alleged financial misconduct is Dr. Michael Alatise, who was Bursar during the tenure of the immediate past VC.
In September 2015, Olayinka assumed office as the 12th substantive Vice Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier university but left office in November 2020 to the most unpalatable of send-offs, as non-academic staff unions under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities of the institution bid him a symbolic farewell protest of “sweeping his feet out of office”.
CERTIFICATE PRINTING RACKET, BREACH OF THE PROCUREMENT ACT
According to the petition, in 2014, the Isaac Adewole administration contracted a UK company, Tall Security Print Limited, to produce 40,000 certificates (for graduate students). The company was represented by its Nigerian agent: Royal, Gold and Apple Limited (Nigeria). Under the project name, ‘Secured Academic Certificate’, the contract was awarded at the cost of N74,549,160.
But in 2016, barely two years after the first contract award of 40,000 pieces of UI certificates, the same contractor was commissioned to produce another set of 40,000 certificates at the cost of N86,407,200 by the Idowu Olayinka administration.
“It is important to question the rationale behind printing of UI certificates in the UK, despite the fact that there were, and still are, other reputable printing organisations in Nigeria, including Academy Press; and the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company,” read the petition.
It noted “two major breaches” in the certificate printing project: That the contractor to whom the Vice Chancellor Olayinka awarded the contract was paid 50%, half of the total amount of the project upfront, in the sum of N43,203,600, which is against the government rule of 15%; and that in a further breach of the Procurement Act, there was no Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) for the money advanced.
Since Adewole had contracted 40,000 pieces of UI certificates to a UK company in 2014, the back-to-back certificate printing project by Olayinka in 2016 raised a few more questions:
“How many certificates out of the 40,000 printed in 2014 by Professor Isaac Adewole’s administration were issued out before the new contract was awarded by Prof Idowu Olayinka, barely two years after?
“Was it a matter of coincidence that Professor Idowu Olayinka was in charge of the certificate printing project in 2014, as the then Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) under Professor Adewole?
“What is the reason for the huge difference in the awarded contract up to the sum of N11.86million (16% increase) between 2014 and 2016?
“What is the cause of the desperation to pay the balance of N43,203,600 in December 2016 when only very few copies of the certificates were delivered?”
SPURIOUS CLAIMS ON RENOVATION OF PRINCIPAL OFFICERS’ HOUSES
The petitioner said that under the Senior Staff Housing Scheme, it took the University of Ibadan the sum of N48million to complete a six-flat structure from foundation to finish. However, the same university spent the following on other renovations of similar or lesser quantity within the same period: “N35million was spent to renovate the Bursar’s (Dr. Michael Alatise) Lodge in 2017 (note that the former Bursar did not move into the apartment until few months before his exit); N26million was spent to renovate the Librarian’s (Dr. Helen K. Opadeji) Lodge of similar structure to that of the Bursar in 2017; “N6million was spent to renovate the Registrar’s (Mrs. Oluwabunmi Faluyi) Lodge in 2018 (the Registrar’s Lodge is of the same structure as those of the Bursar and the Librarian); N15million was recently spent on the bungalow that the immediate past Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, moved into after the expiration of his tenure on November 30, 2020.
OFFICIAL VEHICLES AND OVER-INVOICING
During the five-year tenure of Professor Olayinka as Vice Chancellor, with the exception of the official car that was purchased for the use of the DVC (Admin) office in 2018, all university official vehicles that were acquired did not follow due process, the petition stated.
In December 2015, in the very first month of his tenure in office, Prof Idowu Olayinka was said to have approved the purchase of an official car (Landcruiser Prado) for himself and a Toyota (Avensis) for the former Bursar (Dr. Alatise), without following due process. At the height of the outbreak of COVID-19, all vehicle purchases on behalf of the University Distance Learning Centre and other units of the University were reportedly done without recourse to due process.
Between 2015 and 2020, the former Vice Chancellor and the former Bursar were said to have effected the purchase of vehicles worth over N200million, as follows: in 2017, seven fairly used Toyota Camry were purchased at an inflated price of N30.3million for some university principal officers, deans and heads of units; in the same year, three brand new Toyota Avensis were purchased as official cars for some Principal Officers for N70.6million; and in 2017, a new Prado Jeep was procured for the Council Chairman at a cost of N55.94million.
“In 2020, at the point of exit, the former VC did not consider it procedurally unethical, a brazen violation of the enabling regulations guiding all official purchases, and a gross abuse of office to approve the purchase of a Landcruiser Prado for himself, regardless of whether or not at the point of exit, at the cost of N66million!” read Dasylva’s petition.
“The VC’s last-minute purchase was incongruous with the content and the spirit of the Governing Council’s ‘Decision on Entitlements of Council Members and Principal Officers’. Thereafter, he caused his existing official vehicle (also a 4-wheeler) to be undervalued and sold to himself at a ridiculous amount.”
ARBITRARY WELFARE PACKAGE
Dasylva described this as “another source of huge fraud in the University of Ibadan system”.
“Initiations, decisions and disbursement of welfare package are substantially shrouded in secrecy between the duo of Vice Chancellor Prof Idowu Olayinka and the former Bursar, Dr Michael Alatise,” he wrote.
“Under the Vice Chancellor Prof Idowu Olayinka, management was in the habit of drawing monies out of the university account under the guise of providing welfare package, another name for bribery and settlement. It is to be noted that such monies in this category were never receipted for.”
Between December 2015 and November 2020, not less than N.5billion was estimated to have been expended as “welfare package”. Since welfare package is usually not accounted for, and at times, beneficiaries were not stated, the amount expended could be more than estimated.
At least one of the beneficiaries of such slush fund was said to be known: on his 60th birthday in 2018, Vice Chancellor Olayinka allegedly awarded himself the sum of N500,000 as welfare package!
“It has been a tradition to give welfare package to principal officers and council members strictly for wedding of their children and bereavement of spouses or parents. Never has any VC in UI history awarded himself a welfare package for own birthday while in office),” the petitioner said.
“Similarly, the former Bursar, Dr. Alatise, took a cue from his principal, and was awarded the sum of N500,000 for his PhD convocation ceremony in 2018. Still, there is a serious allegation of financial recklessness on the part of management which caused the University the disbursement of the sum of $150,000 to an agency in Abuja as welfare package.”
As approved by the Governing Council of the University, the Vice Chancellor is entitled to a “severance payment” of N5,777,595:00 while all principal officers are entitled to fixed honorarium (Bursar, Registrar and Librarian: N4,829,909:40; and DVCs: N3,863,927:52 for 2 terms, and N1,931,963:76 for 1 term).
The severance package/honorarium is to be awarded to these officers AFTER the successful expiration of their tenure. However, in the case of Professor Idowu Olayinka and Dr. Michael Alatise, the severance payment was said to have been disbursed over two months before the expiration of their tenures. Meanwhile, in the case of Professor Adenike Adeyemo, erstwhile DVC (RISP), her severance payment was not approved until the end of her tenure.
Between 2017 and 2019, a total number of 77,900 candidates wrote one form of examination or the other, at the UIDLC Computer-Based Testing Centre. The total amount generated came to N50,777,296.95, comprising N9,406,207.35 for the year 2017, N11,452,467.10 for 2018 and N29,918,622.50 for year 2019.
“Unfortunately,” said the petition, “the money made by the Centre was mopped up to attend to other things by the University management under Olayinka. Therefore, despite the apparent improved IGR, the Centre, as at 30th Novermber, 2020, was unable to pay the wages of its academic resource persons and support staff.”
Dayslva also wrote: “Before the establishment of the Directorate of Affiliated Institutions, there have been estimated incomes generated from the 13 institutions under the administration of the University, which were duly shared in accordance with the Senate approved sharing formula, to the participating departments and faculties. Between 2016/2017; 2017/2018; and 2018/2019, none of the participating departments and faculties received any funds. The University Administration diverted the legitimate share of the relevant units.
“As Dean of Arts, I kept requesting to know what happened to my Faculty’s share without answer. Besides, with the founding of the Directorate for Affiliated Institution, all revenues generated became centralized. During the 2018/2019 academic session, over N80million was generated by the Directorate of Affiliated Institutions. Despite the agreed sharing formula, approved by Senate, for the participating departments and faculties involved and the programme, the entire revenue generated from these affiliated institutions was, again, never shared to any of the departments and faculties. Sir, for reasons of accountability and fairness the honorable panel will need to find out what happened to the funds that ought to go to participating departments and faculties but was denied them.”
He also said: “The UI Micro Finance Bank was used as an avenue for slush funds, some of which were disbursed as welfare package (see Item E). Since the microfinance bank is a limited liability company under the regulation of the Central Bank of Nigeria, it is only appropriate to demand an urgent independent investigation and audit of the corporate governance and administrative structure of the bank between 2015 and 2020.
“Following the circular of the CBN of October 2018 (revised in March 2019) on ‘review of minimum capital requirement for microfinance banks in Nigeria’, all microfinance banks were directed to increase their capital base across the four tiers of microfinance banks.
“It is on record that the former VC, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, and the former Bursar, Dr. Alatise, worked hand-in-hand to effect the capitalization of UI Microfinance Bank by drawing the sum of N60m from university funds without Council approval.”
MULTIPLE DTAS FROM PERPETUAL TRAVELS
Between 2015 and 2020, the former Vice Chancellor was said to have embarked on perpetual foreign trips without approval of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council. The occasion of most of these travels always coincided with periods of crisis on campus. More importantly, the cost of the foreign trips, including those that were non-official trips, run to millions of naira of the University fund.
“As it stands now, there is no limit to foreign trips and the privilege, not so much the trips, but the financial implication on the limited resources of the university that is grossly abused,” read the petition.
“In the case of Dr. Alatise, the former Bursar, he was always embarking on perpetual round trips to Abuja and Ilishan-Remo (location of Babcock University where he worked on his graduate programmes) for self-help and personal engagements. Like his principal, the cost of these trips was largely drawn from the lean UI vault.”
He lamented that the university had been hurt by a lack of funds arising from financial ineptitude and recklessness under Olayinka’s administration.
“For instance, the University’s Distance Learning Centre has been unable to pay the honoraria due to academic staff who have been serving as resource persons and instructors to the Centre. Also, the wages of such allied staff as cleaners of the university have been unpaid over 10 months now,” he said. “It is no longer news that the university is grossly indebted to its cleaning contractors to an estimated sum of N100.5million, thus impoverishing the cleaners who are being paid pittance as wages.”
Daylva put the “unprecedented financial indebtedness of the University of Ibadan” at almost N8billion as of November 30, 2020. He called for “a comprehensive forensic audit of the university account under the administration of Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka as Vice Chancellor and the Chief Accounting Officer, and Dr Michael Alatise as Bursar and Chief Financial Officer of the University of Ibadan from December 1, 2015 to November 30, 2020”, saying it would, among other things, help to check any further plundering of the commonwealth.
FIJ contacted Professor Dasylva to confirm if he indeed wrote the petition. And while he did not deny writing it, he expressed “shock” that it had found its way to the public.
“I made my submission to the panel in hard copy and to the panel alone. “It was not meant for public consumption. The panel has not even been given the time to do its job, so why should I talk to the public? If the panel had been given adequate time and it didn’t do its job, maybe I can understand why someone would leak the document to you. But right now, I don’t. In fact, whoever leaked that document to you should be tracked because the issues I raised are not for sensationalism or the external embarrassment of the university.”
Pressed further, he said: ‘I don’t know why anyone would have thought it wise to put the document in the public space. What for? What do they want to achieve with that?”
FIJ also contacted Professor Olayinka, but calls to his line rang out while an SMS went unreplied.