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Panel chairman regrets signing UNILAG VC reinstatement report

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The chairperson of Special Visitation Panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the  crisis at the University of Lagos, Prof. Tukur Saad, has said he was deceived into signing the report that informed government’s decision to reinstate Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the vice chancellor of the university.

A statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Education, Ben-Bem Goong, on Tuesday, said the FG had reinstated the VC and dissolved the university council.

Saad, in different correspondences to the Chief of Staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari, and the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, cast doubts on the integrity of the report.

According to him, “The recommendation was that the VC should be cautioned against contract splitting. To me this was enough for Government to reject this recommendation and subject the culprit to the consequences.”

Expressing his reservation, Saad said, “The recommendation that the VC should be reinstated was limited to the procedure of his termination. It did not mean he should be absolved of all wrong doing.”

He said the report of the panel was one-sided because majority of the members were biased towards  Ogundipe, adding that the Terms of Reference (ToR) were also skewed against the estranged chairperson of the governing council, Wale Babalakin, who had since resigned his appointment.

According to him, although Ogundipe was wrongly removed, he was not given a clean bill of health as he was indicted for contract splitting.

He also accused Babalakin of “committing hara-kiri” by removing the VC and appointing another one, and by deciding to step down from his position when the crisis got messy.

Saad said he was cajoled into signing the report with the understanding that the content would be subjected to review by the Chancellor of the University, the Shehu of Borno.

He  said he agreed to sign the report to abort another stalemate and  save the government from embarrassment but regretted that he had now been “stabbed on the back” by people he trusted.

“As Chairman, I didn’t want to sign the Final Report but I felt that would be a slap on the face of the government and it would generate so much bad publicity in the public domain, that I would rather sign on the understanding that the matter would be referred to the Shehu of Borno as the Chancellor,” he wrote to Gambari.

The professor of architecture said he felt betrayed by the conclusion reached by government after he was made to believe in a different course of action.

“The final recommendation of the panel was that the matter should be referred back to the Chancellor, irrespective of what the panel recommended.

“As it stands now I feel I was made a fool of and stabbed on the back by people I trusted,” he said.

Drawing attention to some of the recommendations contained in the report submitted by the committee, Saad said it will be impossible for any Council to manage a university in this country, if the recommendations of the panel are implemented in a White Paper.
He complained that “A White Paper based on the report submitted by the panel and neglecting the final recommendation of referring will raise many questions.”

Saad had in a letter to the education minister, dated October 7, 2020 and titled ‘Re: Submission of Report of The Visitation Panel on University of Lagos Crisis to Honourable Minister’, drawn attention to a number of instances where he said the report was skewed to favour  Ogundipe.

“When you read the report, you will notice that it was very one-sided, so to speak, the option was for the chairman to refuse to sign the report and that would have been a slap on the government’s face.

“In any case, the issue is not that the report was false but it contained half truth in order to protect one party and magnified the facts from the other party by pushing the blame to one side, omitting what could have balanced the report.”

On allegation of contract splitting against the VC,  Saad said  the report did not represent the findings and position of the panel on the matter.

“Take the issue of splitting contracts so that the figures would be within his approval limits; in the renovation of his house and that of some principal officers, the evidence was clear, one contractor would be given four contracts on the same project on the same day each packaged to be within VCs approval limit.

“A number of such cases were evident, but the only way the Chairman could get that in the report was to compromise by rendering such as “Contracts were packaged in a way that bordered on contract splitting, in order to keep them within approval limits.”

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FG to begin rehabilitation work on part of Enugu-Onitsha Expressway

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The Federal Controller of Works in Enugu State, Olufemi Oyekanmi, has said the ministry will soon begin the rehabilitation of the dilapidated Ugwu-Onyeama portion of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway.

Mr Oyekanmi said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Friday, saying the project would ease the plight of motorists plying the road.

He said the ministry had awarded to RCC Nigeria Ltd, the contract for the rehabilitation of the 15km stretch of the expressway from 9th Mile to Enugu.

He said the contract also included the construction of a state-of-the-art bypass to take care of the perennial traffic gridlock at 9th Mile during Yuletide.

The remedial work at Ugwu-Onyeama would start on June 21 and run to the end of the year, while the second contract would begin after the rains in October, Mr Oyekanmi said.

He said he had informed the leadership of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Petroleum Tanker Drivers and other interested groups in the area about the federal government’s plan to fix the road.

He said he had informed the leadership of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Petroleum Tanker Drivers and other interested groups in the area about the federal government’s plan to fix the road.

According to him, major repair work will start on the most critical areas of the road on Monday. “As a matter of fact, we will start moving equipment and materials to that place.

“The planned palliative will solve the problem of accidents that are not related to recklessness around Ugwu-Onyeama.

Reacting to the development, the Chairman of IPMAN, Enugu Depot Community, Chinedu Anyaso, thanked the Federal Government for its “timely intervention” on the road.

The Enugu depot community is in-charge of Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states.

Mr Anyaso said his leadership had a meeting with Mr Oyekanmi who assured them that remedial work would soon begin on the Enugu-bound lane of the dual carriageway.

He expressed the hope that the repairs would bring relief to oil marketers and petroleum tanker drivers in the South-east.

According to him, oil marketers and tanker drivers have suffered huge financial losses as a result of road accidents on the road.

He said since the beginning of the year, over 20 product-laden tankers had fallen on the road, resulting in spill, fire and vehicle damage.

Mr Anyaso said the association was planning a protest to show its bitterness over the situation before it learnt about the federal government’s planned intervention.

“You know we rely on other depots for supply because Enugu depot has not functioned for about 15 years.

“So, good roads are important to us because it will reduce our business risks and save the lives of millions of people,” the IPMAN chairman said.

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I sold about N70,000 bread daily to bandits when Kaduna students were abducted – Baker

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Hassan Magaji, a baker in the Galadimawa area of Kaduna State, has confessed to supplying bread to bandits.

Magagi, who was recently arrested by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General of Police, said he sold bread worth N70,000 to the bandits during the time that some university students were abducted.

It is not clear if he was referring to students of Greenfield University, Kaduna, who spent over a month in captivity.

“I observed that whenever they kidnapped many people, like during the kidnap of those university students, the quantity of bread that they bought increased. During that period I delivered up to N70,000 worth of bread everyday until recently when it dropped to N50,000 again.”

“I have not benefitted much except that I married a new wife and I was able to save money to take care of two wives. To stop banditry, government should recruit more security men. We prefer police because they know the job.”

Bandits have been terrorising residents of Kaduna and its environs.

On Saturday, angry residents blocked the ever-busy Abuja-Kaduna highway to protest incessant attacks.

Despite repeated assurances from government, armed gangs have been making life a hell for people.

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FG kicks as Kwara, Bayelsa fail to implement homegrown school programme

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Federal  Government has Kwara and Bayelsa states among other states of the federation, over non-implementation of its National Home Grown School Programme in their respective states.

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya U Farouk, said this on Friday in Ilorin, Kwara State, during a courtesy visit to the state Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi.

Alabi who represented  the governor urged the Federal Governemnt to be patient with the state, agreeing that the advantages inherent in the programme are phenomenal.

He said that the programme would increase enrolment of pupils in schools, boost the economy of the state and generate employment.

The minister,Hajia Farouk had hinged the state’s delay in the enrolment on initial non compliance with the programme’s guidelines and Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister said that “with the relaxation of lockdown caused by COVID-19 and resumption of schools, the state will soon be there.”

Represented by Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National and Social Investment Programme Dr Nasir Mahmud, the minister said that the state recently expressed its preparedness to come on board the programme.

Hajia Farouk said that based on the data available from the state no fewer than 96,000 pupils in public schools from primary one to three would benefit from the programme, adding that over 1500 schools would also be enrolled.

She added that primary one to three pupils are the targets of the school feeding programme in the country.

Said she: “Recently, the state communicated to the ministry that it is ready and we are here to assess the status of the preparedness and if there is any support we need to give, the ministry will give it to make the state come on board.

“So far, we are very happy with what we saw. We just debriefed the state Deputy Governor about our findings. There are very few gaps here and there and we believe together with the national and state governments will soon address them to make sure they state begins the programme. In a matter of weeks I am confident that the programme will commence in the state.”

She said the programme had steadied enrolment of pupils in public schools in the federation.

“We have seen tremendous improvement in schools enrolment in the country. The other objective of the programme is to make sure students stay in schools resulting in learning improvement,” the minister added.

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