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Rasheed Ojikutu: The mindset of a hatchet man at UNILAG

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The article, titled Wale Babalakin: The pitiable angle, written by Rasheed Ojikutu, a professor in the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos and published in The Guardian newspaper of Thursday, September 24, 2020, gave a window into the mindset of a hatchet man desirous of confusing the public.

That such a piece could come from the pen of a man that professes to have attained the highest academic height of a university lecturer – professorship- paints a very gloomy picture for the next generation of Nigerians that the likes of Ojikutu are being paid to mould in learning and character.

One is however relieved that there are as many university lecturers who are not on the same page with him and as such, the future of this potentially great nation is not totally imperiled.

Although he kicked-started his article by posturing to be a lover of the university where he teaches, he soon exposed himself as a lover and defender of the cesspool of corruption that Dr. Wale Babalakin SAN fought as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council.

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Or how else can one interpret the ‘proverbial’ story told by this professor about “a man who caught a man right in his bedroom sleeping with his wife”?

In case you have not read the article in question, permit me to reproduce the relevant portion under reference.
Making allusion to the anti-corruption war waged at the university by Babalakin, Ojikutu wrote:

“His attitude and general mien to university governance remind me of the proverbial man who caught a man right in his bedroom sleeping with his wife. He was so enraged that he held the man firmly by his jugular beckoning to the whole community to observe the shame of a greedy womanizer who has the audacity to probe the privacy of another man’s home. The entire town gathered slapping, kicking, and mocking the intruder with some shouting “Straight to the King’s palace. We must crucify him”. They dragged the offender through the whole town to the Palace where he was sanctioned for infidelity.

“After the crowd dispersed, the King invited the somewhat victorious husband to the inner recess of his palace and said to him “My dear son, I have never seen a man so naïve and gullible like you. A problem you should have resolved within the confines of your home will from tomorrow become a subject of ridicule and shame in town due to your indiscretion. Don’t you know that you have rechristened yourself and your families as you are likely to be seen from today from the perspective of the incident as henceforth, you will be described by people in this town as the husband of the promiscuous woman”. It is indeed most disheartening that Wale Babalakin was unlucky to have found himself in the midst of some advisers in the university who are generally not known for construction.”

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It is quite clear that ‘wife’ in the story here is University of Lagos while the “greedy womanizer” is Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, the erstwhile Vice- Chancellor of the institution who was removed from office by the Babalakin-led Governing Council.

To Professor Ojikutu, Babalakin and other members of the University of Lagos Governing Council should have looked the other way and not institute investigation into the allegations of sleaze against Professor Ogundipe.
To him also, Babalakin ought not to have prevailed on the Council to take actions against Ogundipe after the Dr. Saminu Dagari panel had found him guilty so that the ‘King’ will not reprimand him.

Simply put, Ojikutu is telling his readers what he would do if he was in Babalakin’s shoes: cover-up the corrupt tendencies of the university’s administration and have his own hefty share of the proceeds of corruption, much to the detriment of probity and accountability and all in a bid to retain the glamorous title of Pro-Chancellor. What a pity!
More pitiable is his attempt to mock the resignation of Babalakin over his disagreement with composition and terms reference of the Visitation Panel put in place by the Federal Government

Our dear professor must certainly belong to the specie of Nigerians, and there are legions of them, who would sell their souls by clinging to public offices at all costs rather than throwing in the towel when there are clear signals that they are no longer being appreciated by the appointing authorities.

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Thank God that Babalakin has shown the way for a new Nigeria, as is the case in civilized climes, where people of good conscience readily resign in such circumstances.

If some people say he did that because he has ‘a second address’, so be it. That indeed, is a lesson, and a great one for that matter, for many Nigerian public officials who cannot survive outside of government appointments.

If they have ‘a second address’, they can also write, as Babalakin did, in his letter of resignation sent to the Minister of Education, inter-alia, that “
“ 12. I have served the university system in Nigeria with my heart and intellect. Amongst other offices, I was:
a. Pro-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri (2009 – 2013);
b. Chairman, Council of Pro-Chancellors of all Federal Universities (2009 – 2013);
c. Chairman, Federal Government Implementation Team of the 2009 Agreement (2009 – 2013);
d. Chairman, Federal Government Negotiation Team of the 2009 Agreement (2017 till date);
e. Pro-Chancellor, University of Lagos (2017 till date).

“ 13. These were made possible by a system that provided resources and also ensured proper monitoring of the resources. The educational system in Nigeria requires more funding but most importantly, it requires prudent management of the limited resources. It was my determination to ensure that the limited resources of the University of Lagos were properly utilized that motivated me to lead the Governing Council to take the decisions which the Governing Council took.

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“14. In all these positions that I have held, I did not receive any remuneration. Specifically:
a. I did not receive any sitting allowance.
b. I did not receive any tickets or travel allowance.
c. I did not receive or use any official car.
d. In the University of Maiduguri and University of Lagos, I did not allow the institutions to provide me with food or drinks. I paid for every right or privilege that was conferred on me.
e. Even when I travelled to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I paid for my ticket and my expenses.
f. I did not obtain any contract from the education sector in my relative long sojourn in the sector.
“15. My motivation for my actions is that I had the best education that an intellect could provide in Nigeria and abroad. It is my fervent desire that every Nigerian should have the sort of opportunities I had.”

Lest I forget, Ojikutu is the Chairman of the Distance Learning Institute (DLI) Board of the University where so much money had been siphoned to private pockets, according to the Dagari Panel findings.

Nobody should therefore begrudge him for celebrating the exit of Babalakin from the Governing Council. The Professor can go back to his old ways without any fear of being brought to book.

Mumuni is media adviser to Dr. Wale Babalakin.

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