LASU denies diverting staff pension funds

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Olanrewaju Fagbohun

The Lagos State University (LASU), management has denied reports that its Pro-Chancellor, Professor Adebayo Ninalowo and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun diverted some staff pension funds to other use.

It was reacting to an earlier publication on an online newspaper, Premium Times, which claimed that One Hundred and Ninety Eight Million (N198, 000, 000. 00) staff pension was used to buy luxury cars ahead of the 2018 accreditation exercise and never returned.

In a statement sent to EduCeleb.com on Tuesday, the university’s spokesperson, Mr Ademola Adekoya also pointed out that the said funds of over 100 million naira was still intact as the University had never defaulted in remitting payments to either the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) or its retirees.

Read the full statement below.

RESPONSE TO PREMIUM TIMES PUBLICATION

The Lagos State University Management in reference to a publication in the Premium Times of April 14, 2019 accusing the Pro-Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of diverting One Hundred and Ninety Eight Million (N198, 000, 000. 00) staff pension to buy luxury cars wishes to inform the general public that these allegations are false and baseless and hereby set the record straight.

The National Universities Commission (NUC) in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities informed all Nigerian Universities not too long ago, that accreditation exercise of programmes would be conducted once in year (October/November) and any University that fails to participate in the accreditation exercise will not be able to admit students into programmes due for accreditation but are yet to be accredited by the National Universities Commission.

For Year 2018 accreditation exercise, the Lagos State University presented thirty seven (37) academic programmes. Preparatory to the visit of National Universities Commission (NUC), the University established a model of instituting task teams for all programmes to be accredited. The task teams are supervised by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) while the Vice-Chancellor monitors activities of the task teams from the background using dedicated peer review teams of seasoned Professors. Each task team comprises a member of Management, the Dean of Faculty and Heads of the concerned Departments, representatives of all staff and student Unions, Bursary and the Internal Audit.

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The University’s budget approved by the Lagos State Government for Year 2018 included the sum of Four Hundred and Seventy Four Million (N474, 000, 000. 00) for accreditation which caters for Laboratory Equipment (various), Motor Vehicles, Office Furniture/Accessories, Generators, Books (various) and Manpower requirement. It should be noted that all the vehicles (Toyota Corolla/Utility Buses) were purchased from foremost Toyota dealers in Nigeria, namely: Elizade Nigeria Limited and Germaine Auto Centre Limited. Also, the vehicles were all purchased in the name of the University and thereby constituting them as assets of the University.

It is also noteworthy to state that aside approval of budget, there are layers of checks that ensure that purchases are done in line with best practices. These layers of checks include the Internal Audit, Office of the Special Adviser on Education, line Ministries, Office of the Lagos State Auditor–General and the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Appropriation.

Further to the approval of the University’s budget by Lagos State Government and premised on the need to urgently commence preparation for the accreditation exercise as set by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the University took the initiative of sourcing for required funds internally pending release of same by the State Government.

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The University Management was proactive in order to ensure that it does not lose its accreditation of the programmes presented. The aftermath of losing accreditation of the 37 programmes would have been devastating because the University would not be able to admit students for the programmes. It is instructive to note that for Year 2018 admission, over 35, 000 qualified first choice applicants sought admission into Lagos State University but the University was only able to admit 5, 500. It is best imagined what would have happened if the University had lost the accreditation of 37 of its 70 programmes at that time.

It is pertinent to state that at no time did the University borrow from Staff Contributory Fund to finance accreditation expenses. However, the University borrowed the sum of Four Hundred and Seventy Four Million (N474, 000, 000. 00) from its provision to meet past service obligations. The Pension Fund for members of staff who are yet to register with Pension Fund Administrators (which is less than One Hundred Million Naira) is intact.

In taking the above step, the University obtained approval of the Governing Council while the Office of the Special Adviser on Education and His Excellency, the Visitor to the University were duly carried along. At no time did the Pro-Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor violate the provisions of the Financial Guidelines of the University.

It is instructive to state that the Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC); the body that regulates and supervises effective administration of Pension matters in Lagos State pays regular working visits to the Lagos State University and in a recent letter commended the University for its efficiency in the remittance of pension funds to Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs). As a matter of practice, the University does not default in the payment of its obligations to either the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) or its retirees.

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It should be further noted that Lagos State University in the 2018 National Universities Commission (NUC) accreditation exercise recorded over 95% success in the programmes presented for accreditation and as at today, all programmes at the Lagos State University are duly accredited by National Universities Commission (NUC). The University Management wishes to place on record, the unalloyed support of the Lagos State Government in achieving this laudable feat. All of the facts stated above are verifiable.

It must be stated at this point that there appears to be a deliberate attempt by the author of the publication in his usual habit, to use a credible platform like Premium Times to denigrate the relentless efforts the present University Administration is making to deepen the achievements of the Lagos State University. His antecedents in raising frivolous, baseless and uninformed allegations against the University has not gone unnoticed.

The University Management at this juncture assures the general public that it remains committed to achieving the vision of its founding fathers and will continue to work under the auspices of the Governing Council.

Mr. Ademola Adekoya
Coordinator
Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations
Lagos State University

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