The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the calls for probe into the remote and immediate cause/s of the collapsed University of Lagos (Unilag.) central library complex.
In a press release issued by the organization’s Coordinator of Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Executive Chairman, he noted, “It would be recalled that this building project was a fixed contract by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, with counterpart funding from the University of Lagos management. What this signifies is that bulk of the funds for this project was supplied by the TETFUND as aid with moratorium disbursement by the University authority. It was the same way funds were sourced from the International Monetary Fund, IMF, etc. for upgrading facilities in our tertiary institutions in the early and late 80’s with the federal government, serving as guarantors for such loans or funds. There should be no real problem if such funds are actually utilized for what they are originally meant for, vis a vis, upgrading of learning, teaching and residential conditions prevalent in our tertiary institutions. However, much of the angst and unrest occur when such funds are flagrantly mismanaged and outrightly embezzled by those concerned, which always result in shoddy facilities or as in occasions like this, dangerous state of facilities. This is usually the primary cause of much of the social unrest that has practically become synonymous with our higher institutions in recent times.
“In this instance, the building that was meant to go up to seven (7 storey) collapsed while at the second floor (storey). Another point of note is that, many of the workers in the institution, expressed their reservations about the mode and methodology employed in contracting out a project that was only a little short of N2bn (Two Billion Naira) and request for a probe of the project consultants, i.e., ATO Architects, Landmark Structure Engineers, Tuber Consult Quantity Surveyors, IFC Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, CPMS Project Manager and Dutum Company Limited. They had expressed a deep reservation about the core competence of the same consultants. They cited examples of how the casual workers, employed for this mighty project, made use of head pans to convey concrete mix and this means that they could not get the correct measure of the materials they are using and insisted that what they expected was that there would be deployment of modern construction equipment for this massive project.
Though, it was reported that members of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCN) met with the Unilag Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, over the collapsed building, where he reportedly informed that the University Council Chairman, Dr. Wale Babalakin, had ordered an investigation into the matter after his necessary briefing, the Unilag governing council should allow the panel to be truly representative and all-encompassing. What this means is that to get an unbiased, thorough and acceptable reports, detailing immediate and remote causes of this avoidable disaster, all stakeholders in the university, including teaching and non-teaching staff and the students’ representatives, need to be included in such a panel. This would not only protect the independence of the academic environment, which we have always clamored for and supported, but it would also allay possible fears of misgivings, as well as ensuring that the outcome of such investigation is acceptable by cognate stakeholders, including the Nigerian populace.”
The CACOL Boss further said, “There is no gainsaying the fact that, in frontally tackling the bogey of corruption in the country, our Universities, Polytechnics/Monotechnics, and other tertiary institutions\, have a very vital role to play. This is because, if universities serve as breeding ground of cherished values and useful intellectual enterprise, then, our ivory towers must encourage the breeding of the right values as pioneers of right model for societal evolution. The misconceptions about corruption and other social values and the effect of such degeneracy could be located within the confines of our schools and, if Nigeria must be revitalized and repositioned for workability, then the schools must serve as good examples.” The statement said.