Unilag can make world’s best with adequate support ― lawmaker

A federal lawmaker, Mr Oluwole Oke, says the University of Lagos can be among the best tertiary institutions in the world if supported with adequate funding and other developmental tools.

Oke made the claim in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)  in Lagos.

The lawmaker recently led an eight-man Committee on Public Procurement of the House of Representatives to the institution on a fact-finding mission.

“The University of Lagos needs a lot of funding that will propel it to world-class status.

“The Federal Government should strive to do more in terms of investing hugely in this institution, given its position in the country and Africa, and the kind of projects it embarked upon.

“The management of the university must have conducted a needs assessment before embarking on these projects, and it is our hope that at the completion of these projects, they will be put to fruitful utilisation.

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“Going by its expansion of programmes, population explosion and research and development efforts, there is no way we can expect the government to do it all alone.

“Unilag, as we all know, is a brand. So, it will not be out of place for corporate individuals, organisations, blue chip companies and other well-meaning Nigerians to join hands and support governments to fund education,” he, however, noted.

Oke said that although it was the primary responsibility of the government to fund education, it should not be left solely in its hands if the country should meet the 21st-century demands and accelerate national development.

“There is no gainsaying that most facilities in schools will become moribund with time, it is necessary to ensure that funds are constantly made available to get them replaced when necessary,” he said.

NAN reports that Oke had led the committee on a fact-finding mission to the institution following a face-off between its management members and the pro-chancellor, Dr Wale Babalakin.

The conflict began when the Registrar, Mr Azeez Oladejo, issued queries to some members of the management of the institution, including the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Rahamon Bello, and his successor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.

Oladejo claimed that the queries, which had to with financial misappropriation and travelling without permission, among other issues, were given on the orders of the pro-chancellor.

According to the lawmaker, the parties involved must find a way to work harmoniously for the progress of the foremost university.

On enhancing the cordial relationship between vice-chancellors pro-chancellors of universities, Oke said that the laws setting up the universities were clear on their respective roles.

According to him, the parties must acknowledge and have respect for each other’s roles and avoid undue interferences.

Meanwhile, the report on the fact-finding has since been released.

The committee had carried out an investigation into allegations of gross statutory breaches including violation of Public Procurement Act, 2007, by the management and governing council of the university.

The House committee had identified and written letters to several agencies and organisations – public and private – requesting information and documents on the subject matter.

This is in line with Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, as well as the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act.

The committee also conducted various hearings to afford all parties the opportunity to present their positions and fair hearing accorded to all interests.

The committee had visited Unilag to assess some projects, including the partial collapse of the new library being handled by one of the construction companies.

At the conclusion of its investigation, the committee had said it found no infraction or breach of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, in the award of contracts, particularly that of the university’s new library, a project awarded to Messrs Dutum Construction Ltd.

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The committee also reiterated that the vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Ogundipe, remained the Chief accounting officer of the institution in line with Section 20 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

It also said that the vice-chancellor should continue to discharge his responsibilities as expected by law, while the governing council should stick to its supervisory role of policy formulation and fund generation for the institution.

It advised the council not to meddle in the internal management of the university.

The committee also said that it found no evidence that the pro-chancellor intended to assume the position of the chairman of the lender’s board.

The committee stated that such an action would have contravened the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

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