Sunday, April 14, 2024

UNIOSUN workers challenge ex-VC, Popoola to public debate over alleged illicit activities during tenure

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR

The leadership of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions at the Osun State University has challenged the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Labode Popoola to a national debate over the don’s alleged illicit activities during his tenure as the VC.

The workers had accused Popoola of illegal award of contracts, witch-hunt of some workers among other wrongdoings when he administered the state-owned university as VC and booed him out of the school premises after the expiration of his tenure.

Meanwhile, Popoola, in an interview he granted to a newspaper recently denied all the allegations and said some individuals hid under unionism to commit atrocities.

Reacting to Popoola’s defence, in a statement he issued on Monday, the Chairman of NASU, Dada Kunmi dismissed Popoola’s claims as baseless and aimed at garnering attention and public sympathy.

While emphasising the commitment of the union to uphold best practices and achieve its core objectives, Kunmi said, “This declaration comes in response to allegations made by the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Labode Popoola, which were published in the Punch newspaper on Monday, September 24, 2023.

“NASU has challenged Professor Popoola to a national debate on national television to discuss his alleged illicit activities during his tenure as VC.

“NASU stands firm in its position regarding Professor Labode Popoola’s actions during his time as Vice-Chancellor of UNIOSUN.”

Kunmi maintained that the former VC’s tenure was marked with controversies and allegations of high-handedness and corruption which tarnished his reputation.

He questioned Popoola’s ability to substantiate his accusations, especially regarding staff members who allegedly used unionism to commit wrongdoings, saying, “During Professor Popoola’s five-year tenure, how many of such staff members did he manage to apprehend? His tenure was marked by baseless allegations against the leadership of NASU, including myself and Comrade Isaiah Fayemi, both of whom were cleared of all charges by issuing them letters of exoneration by the Governing Council of the University.

“Labo used his tenure to witch-hunt the non-teaching staff whom he perceived as his enemies. He connived with the Nigeria Police to unjustly interdict some of them simply because they exposed his sharp practices. Despite all his connections, he failed to establish prima facie case against them and were subsequently discharged and acquitted by a court of competent jurisdiction.

“His exit was generally and joyfully celebrated by all members of staff and this was attested to by the video of his exit that went viral.

“Some of the range of allegations against Popoola include: Annual receipt of a ₦5.7 million furniture allowance instead of the approved five-year interval; Unauthorized fuel allowance collection from two university sources, leading to a refund request by a committee; The improper award of contracts for the renovation of the Administration and Auditorium buildings to a relative’s company, Snowtrust Venture Ltd; Inflated contract costs; Splitting of contracts; Lack of due diligence in awarding contracts; Excessive spending on the wooden pedestrian bridge and Tetfund project at Odi-Olowo, Osogbo; Renting the University Guest house from a relative; Acquisition of land from a kinsman and violating Tetfund regulations for a Tetfund project; Missing block-making machines and Keke Napep meant for the university; Illegally collected salaries and allowances throughout his tenure,” he claimed.

The NASU chairman also accused the former VC of “hindering Tetfund conference sponsorship for university staff and causing financial losses to the institution due to his refusal to allow the reprioritization of conference funds and his hatred for Fayemi and co.”

Kunmi acknowledged the intervention of the current VC, Prof O.C. Adebooye, in resolving these issues.

While noting that justice has not been served due to the former VC’s alleged political connections, Kunmi urged Popoola “to face the consequences of his actions and allow the university to enjoy the peace it has experienced under the current leadership.”

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