Mallam Adamu Adamu
The Honourable Minister of Education
Federal Secretariat Complex
Shehu Shagari Way
Garki – Abuja
Through The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education
Through The Chairman Yaba College of Technology Governing Council
Through The Rector Yaba College of Technology
Through The Registrar Yaba College of Technology
Through The Dean School of Management & Business Studies
Through The HOD Accountancy Yaba College of Technology
A CALL TO THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF EDUCATION TO INTERVENE ON YABA COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY AFFAIRS
An Exit Report and Commentaries of Mr. J. B. Akeju
My name is Joseph Babatunde Akeju. I am presently a Chief Lecturer in the Department of Accountancy at Yaba College of Technology. I am the one reinstated by the Honourable Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu (Under the regime of General Muhammadu Buhari the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) from a seven and half years dismissal as punishment for not participating in the then looting of the college treasury and for using my vantage position as at then (bursar of the college) to expose to the general public the systematic looting of the college treasury.
By Gods grace, I will be retiring from the college service in a few days time specifically on the 20th March 2018. The point of good practice connotes that when a professional is leaving an organisation and he observes certain things that are detrimental to the progress and well being of that organisation he must mention these to appropriate authority. I am a Chartered Accountant and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and Chartered Management Accountants London (CIMA), I have spent a period of thirty one years in the system, as a full time staff. My professional calling behold on me to let the appropriate authority know those things that are detrimental to the progress and well being of Yaba College of Technology. The appropriate authority in my case is the College Governing Council. However, most of the issues in this case bother on the activities of the present governing council of the college, hence the need for me to whistle blow to an authority that is higher than the governing council (The Honourable Minister of Education).
Ignoring and Criminalising my Genuine Advice
I have made several efforts to call the attention of the council to these efforts which were either blocked or distorted. A desperate and innocent call of the attention of the Council Chairman vide public message (since all avenues to reach him were blocked) has been criminalized by the council and is now being used to persecute me.
Sir, the governing council of my school did the following things which to my mind are in appropriate and require your intention.
i.) Inclusion of additional members that are not statutorily provided for, to attend the council meetings.
ii.) Discontinuation of the procedure for the selection of the college Registrar whose tenure of office lapsed before that of the Rector
iii.) Non collection of the chairman sitting allowance which has an implication for the accounting records of the college. There ought to be a standing approval instructing the bursary not to include his payment in the payment voucher, so as to avoid short fall between the amount paid and the amount prepared.
iv.) No creation of an atmosphere where the members of the community who are not priviledged to have council members’ contacts would at least be given the opportunity of meeting the council. The practice in the college is to do this in form of town hall meeting for the entire community and not for only a selected few.
v.) The acting state of most of the principal officers of the college will make an innocent observer of the system to belief that the honourable governing council deliberately push the college to that point to enjoy undue dominance by the honourable council.
vi.) The duration of the acting officers are put in one month in each occasion which placed them under undue pressure and make them not to have complete freedom in decision-making.
vii.) The selective attendance to resolution of pending court cases
The Dominance of the Former Registrar
I wish to categorically say that all the above observations are supposed to have been made by the secretary to the council. The Registrar of the college is statutorily the secretary to the council. He or she is supposed to know the quorum, the venue and the membership of councils meetings. The Registrar is supposed to advise each and every member of the council and the collective body of the rules and regulations at the meeting. The immediate past Registrar of the college under whom all the above irregularities occurred did not painstakingly perform her professional duties in certain areas including but not limited to those pointed above. She does her official work for people because of who they are or what they can do in return to her and not because of what she is supposed to do.
Despite all these observed flaws in her official work the honourable council chairman praised her to the highest heaven during the last convocation ceremony for excellent performance whose tenure as registrar he would have extended if he is given the opportunity. Thus after the expiration of the tenure of this woman in office as Registrar, she was appointed as Director of Special Duties Council Affairs which makes her continue to attend council meetings at the same time with the Ag Registrar equally attending. This illegality in the management of the hallowed chamber of the governing council made me to write her a personal letter dated 15th January 2018 advising her not to accept such duty because of its illegality and fraudulency of such action. This letter of mine to her later find its way to the Afrikan Watch (an online magazine) where an article was written to greatly insult me and bruise my ego for having the audacity to advise her. The article is titled AKEJU V AMAKAPABOR WHO IS IGNORANT written by Uche Minikwu and Sunday Ata on Feb 6 2018. It is in this article that I got the wind that I would soon be sent away from the college. I thank the writers of this abusive article but they should please chronicle those achievements of the former registrar which could have earned her extension of tenure after ten years in office.
A perusal of the tenure of the immediate past Registrar of the college will disclose a high rate of staff dismissal both in academic and administrative sectors of the college. Some of these dismissal involve high profile cases which were made possible through wrong information to the Honourable Governing Council or and wrong advises given to the affected staff to disobey the honourable governing council instruction. Despite all these, the former registrar was still praised to the highest heaven for excellent achievement. This can only happen in a gullible system.
Non Compliance with Laid Down Procedures and Good Practices
Another issue is the hurriedness in issuing out punitive actions to target victim and non compliance with procedures and good practices in communicating messages to me and putting me in fearful and panicking state of mind. As human being I am not claiming to be above the law. If the council is to punish anyone including me for an offence that council considers to be unpardonable, the ideal procedure and the letters of the law need to be followed in dishing out such punishment. In my case I authored a publication in the Nigeria Nation Newspaper when all legitimate means of informing the honourable members of the governing council were blocked. The publication bothers on sundry issues including misappropriation of public funds. The actions were delayed on the publication for a period of four months before issuing me a query on it. I promptly responded to the query giving full explanations for the publications. This was on 7th of Dec. 2017.
On 15th Feb 2018, at about 11.00am I received a request for further explanations on the initial query. Despite the fact that I have commenced my terminal retirement leave since 21st January 2018, I promptly commenced attending to provide the required explanations. To my surprise before the expiration of the ultimatum (48hrs) for the letter of explanation, a letter was sent to me suspending me from office for a period of one month with half pay. Despite all these I sent the letter of explanations requested within the 48 hours ultimatum because of my respect for the honourable governing council.
Honourable Minister Sir, see another scenario:
i) On 15th Feb 2018 which is twenty-five days to my official retirement from the college (while I was observing my terminal leave) I received a letter of suspension from the college governing council. This suspension is supposed to end on 16th March 2018 which is four days to my official exit from the college service.
ii) Ten days after while serving this suspension precisely on Monday 26th February 2018, I received four different messages (two on each of my MTN and Airtel lines) inviting me to face a panel of council and academic board which the chairman of council constituted scheduled for Thursday the 1st of March.
iii) On Tuesday 27th of February 2018, I received another text message on my MTN on the same issue and also received two hard copies of the letter (one photocopy and the other original) inviting me to the same meeting.
iv) On Wednesday 28th February 2018 I received another two copies of the same letter inviting me to the Thursday meeting. At this juncture, I was confused by the torrent of these messages not knowing which to obey without committing another offence especially that I have been outlawed from entering Yaba College premises. While I was thinking of this confused situation and implication of treating me like common criminal by the chairman of the college governing council, I collapsed on my chair and was taken to my private hospital where I was admitted.
v) In line with the college rules and regulations, I directed my doctor to send information of my admission to the college clinic. I also forwarded a letter to the panel on my inability to attend the meeting on medical ground.
vi) The College Medical Director came to the clinic to check on me and insisted to take my photograph while I was receiving treatment. I guess he did so to convince those that sent him that I am in the hospital and still alive!
Sir, the point of good practice on additional information on an initial query already responded should not carry any ultimatum. However in my case the letter requesting for the additional information do carry an ultimatum. To worsen the situation a penalty was given before the expiration of the ultimatum. This act gives an impression that there is a pre-emptive decision before the request for additional information! Meaning that the honurable council resolved to punish me irrespective of the outcome of the response to her request for additional information!
Sir, I have not offended and will not offend the honourable chairman and members of the governing council irrespective of the decisions of the body against me. I did not rebel against the governing council or any of her members. I am being hunted, disgraced and humiliated in my old age and at the point of my exit from the college because I officially and publicly brought to the knowledge of the governing council the irregularities and injustice in the system. I performed my duty as a Christian by following the word of God that says “Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble, but one who openly criticizes works for peace” (Prov. 10:10). It is peace I worked for by saying the truth to the governing council publicly since the official routes were blocked. For doing this, I am greatly hated as traps were set for me to get me into trouble. My salary (the only source of my livelihood to feed my family) is to be withheld. What will I use to feed my wife (retired) and my children who are still in school? Why sir is the chairman of the governing council of Yaba College of Technology pursuing me his servant? What have I done? What crime have I committed? If the LORD is the one who turned the council against me an offering to Him will make Him change His mind, but if men have done it, may the ALMIGHTY judge accordingly because I have been driven out of Yaba Tech and treated like a fugitive in the land I have lived and worked for over thirty years. (1st Sam 26:18-19 Adapted)
Handling of the Out of Court Settlement of College Cases
Presently the Honourable Governing Council of the college is looking at settling cases out of court. One will think that the council should adopt the principle of First In First Out basis (rather than selective basis) that is to consider the case that had been long outstanding and involving aged people who are over 80 years old (Odepidan, Aboaba and others). The case of Yaba Tech 8 is very important but the other outstanding cases are also of equal importance given the age of the people involved and the longevity of the case. Since the Honourable Minister has permitted the issue of white paper on the case of Yaba Tech 8 one will appeal and pray for an implementation of that white paper in such a way that will be generous and favourable to each member of the Yaba Tech 8.
Pleas to the Honourable Minister
i) To direct the Yaba College of Technology governing council to allow me spend the remaining seventeen days for me to retire without molesting or harassing me and for him to immediately release to me my salary which had been directed to be withheld.
ii) The Honourable Minister should compel the council to make a holistic resolution of pending court cases by also treating other older cases in particular the case of Mrs. Odepidan, Aboaba and others who are all over 80 years old.
iii) To instruct the honourable council not to allow herself to be teliguided in taking harsh decisions based on the recommendation of certain staff of the college and have an open door policy and maintain independence and transparency in staff affairs.
iv) The Honourable Minister should direct the council to modify the acting period of appointment of principal officers in other not to create administrative vacuum and give such acting principal officers the power to act independently without being teliguided.
v) The Honourable Minister should encourage the Yaba Tech Governing Council to work and conduct her activities in line with the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.
vi) Encourage public accountability in educational institutions where both academic and non academic staff including principal officers and supervising bodies could be petitioned and or challenged without fear of victimization
vii) Instruct the governing council of educational institutions in particular the chairman not to be too involved in routine activities of the academia and management of the day to day running of academic institutions.
My presentation above is hinged on three premises namely – to perform my exit responsibility as a professional accountant after the completion of my assigned duty. Aside this I have benefited immensely form the college in terms of my personal development, image and reputation. All these make me to resort to reciprocate in not a lesser manner. This is what has accounted for the high velocity of presenting my views.
There is also the need to keep the image and reputation of the college intact for the sake of our children and expectation of stakeholders in particular the Federal Government. It is also important to say that the leaders of tomorrow are educated and trained in this system hence we need to be careful not to pass to them wrong impressions which they may carry into the society and probably into governance in future.
I wish to say here that the above are some of the motives behind my publication and the views expressed therein and along with the views in other related publications. The view are not to bring down or disgrace the honourable chairman and members of the college governing council. It is obvious that with the action taking against me so far by the chairman and the council, the body has ignored my counsel in that publication which states that “The council chairman should be weary of what he is told behind the scene by anybody irrespective of how close such personality is and using such to act because there are so much deceit in the college which can seriously mislead in making regrettable decision if one is not guided by God.” Since the chairman and the honourable members have decided to ignore the above advice and have started prosecuting me for dismissal, I will use this medium to appeal to the Honourable Minister to look into my case for fairness and equity.
Sir, permit me to conclude this paper by stating as follows that the interest of the present government to save lives, jobs, reputation and improve the image of the country and its various components (including Yaba Tech) and reposition her public education institution in meeting future challenges and lift the country’s image to the highest level should be our collective responsibility and not left for the government alone. The pursuit of such act need not be criminalized rather it should be supported.
Honourable Minister sir, there is need to painstakingly look at my pleas and ensure that justice and fairness is done even with about fifteen days remaining for me in office.
Once more, I am sincerely grateful to you for reinstating me back to the college thereby affording me the opportunity to honourably exit.
I wish you a very successful tenure in office and a peaceful healthy and prosperous life.
Thank you sir and God bless.
Akeju Joseph Babatunde