The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement, Mr Oluwole Oke, has charged the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, not to allow ‘anyone to usurp his powers’.
Oke made this known last Saturday at the end of a two-day visit, alongside other members of the eight-man committee, to the institution.
Oke said the visit, which was part of the committee’s oversight functions, became necessary in the light of the recent crisis between the institution’s management and the Pro-Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin.
Naija News also recalls that the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, University of Lagos chapter had asked the UNILAG authorities to expose the issues in the school, noting that the reason for the queries given to some principal officers and lecturers should also be stated.
Recall also Babalakin instructed the Registrar of the University, Mr Oladejo Azeez, to issue queries bordering on financial improprieties, traveling without permission and other issues, to key management staff, including the immediate-past VC, Prof. Rahamon Bello and his successor, Ogundipe.
Explaining the mission of the committee, Oke said, “The fact remains that we are here, pursuant of the resolution of the house mandating us to investigate the alleged infractions of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act of 2007 and other financial issues. Although the regulators, the National Universities Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education have taken steps to resolve the issue, we took the allegations of the Pro-Chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin as weighty and felt that we had to investigate his claims.
“However, part of the things we have so far established is that there was no clear understanding of the functions of both the university management and the council. Having said this, we have drawn the attention of the council to the Provisions of Section 20 of the Procurement Act, which says that it is only the accounting officer of this university or any university, which is the Vice – Chancellor, who has the mandate to manage, supervise as well as ensure compliance with the provision of the Procurement Act.
“Therefore, the accounting officer of this university, in the person of the Vice-Chancellor takes charge of all the tender boards. The same section 20 made it very clear that it shall be immaterial, whether he has delegated a person or group of persons to carry out one function or the other. That in case of any of infraction, he shall be personally liable, and we have drawn his attention to this same provision that henceforth, he should take charge of this,” Oke submitted.
He, therefore, urged the VC to take charge of his duties. “Be in control of your duties. Do not to allow anyone to usurp your powers. I am saying this so that you know your responsibilities. It is your duty to chair or nominate someone to represent you on the board of the Procurement Planning Committee and the functions of the committee are very clear under Section 16. The only job of the council members is to receive reports from you.”
Members of the committee also inspected both completed and ongoing projects in the university. They expressed their satisfaction with the state of the projects.
On the pro-chancellor’s allegation that a part of the new university library project under construction had caved in sometime in April, the committee members promised to tender their report before the National Assembly on Tuesday (today).
“We do not want a situation where we think it is safe to continue with the project only for something else to happen after completion, even as the students are making use of the place. So, we owe the students the duty of care. We have invited all the concerned contractors and consultants to Abuja on Monday so that we can form our opinion and table our report, latest Tuesday, May 28 before the parliament,” they said.