A bitter war is currently going on among professors and other staff of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Moor Plantation, a research arm of the Obafemi Awolowo University and the most popular agricultural institute in Ibadan. The institution was recently rocked by a protest in which the unions in the institution, namely the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non Academic Staff Union, both the senior and junior cadres accused the Director, Professor Adefemi Ogunbodede of large scale fraud. Members of the union alleged that the Director mismanaged about N 177.5 million meant for the payment of some allowances including hazard and transfer allowances to workers over the last 17 months.
The many allegations leveled against the Professor Ogunbodede and his management team also included the alleged disbursement of funds without due process and reference to the audit department, as well as favoritism which has allegedly led to the recruitment of the Director’s kinsmen and acquaintances over and above others who are more qualified.
While speaking to journalists on the reasons for the protest, Dr. Olunfunmilayo Ande, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, IAR&T chapter criticized the indecisiveness of the authorities of the Institute on the reports of the three panels set up to investigate the allegations against the Director by the Obafemi Awolowo University, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance. She also stated that no meaningful research has been carried out since Ogunbodede became the Director of the Institute. Dr Ande disclosed that the action of the protesting workers was necessary to save the Institute from imminent collapse.
Chairman of the Non Academic Staff Union, Femi Oladeinde, called for Ogunbbodede’s sack, as he stated that the workers have lost confidence in him.
When Professor Ogunbodede was called for his reaction to the various allegations of mismanagement, he disclosed that as a public servant, he cannot speak to the press without being authorized to do so. He disclosed to the reporter that only the Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Professor Tale Omole, can speak on the matter. He stated that as Director, he is not authorized to speak on the matter.
Since IAR&T is a research organ of the Federal Government with OAU, Ile Ife, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Council as supervisory agencies, he refused to make any comments on the allegations.
Checks from the office of the Vice Chancellor however revealed that the panel set up by the university to investigate the allegations is yet to conclude its work, the situation is said to be the same with the other panels. It was pointed out that the panel set up by the University is still at work and has even asked for more time.
The Vice Chancellor too has stated that his administration “will not condone any fraudulent act that can damage the reputation of the university,” thus giving an indication that if the Director is found guilty, he would face dire consequences.
The crisis however took a new dimension when a group that calls itself the “Concerned Group for Integrity” rose in defense of the Director and questioned Dr Ande’s integrity. The group alleged that the ASUU Chairman of the institute, Dr Ande instigated workers against the Director because she has an axe to grind with him and the best way that could be achieved was to drag workers into it.
In a petition sent to the Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, a copy of which was made available to The Street Journal, it was alleged that Dr Ande, a Senior Research Fellow at the IAR&T applied for sabbatical leave in 2010 and while on that leave, she took a 4-year appointment at the Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys (RECTAS) based at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. Documents made available to Street Journal indicated that Dr Ande was appointed Associate Professor by the Governing Council of RECTAS and was offered a contract with an initial salary of $ 23,005 per annum as well as housing, medical and children allowance and meal subsidy among other allowances. And according to the term of the contract; she would be on probation for two years. Another clause in the document revealed that “the contract may be renewed every four (4) years until it is terminated by either party, or until you attain the Centre’s statutory retirement age. In the absence of any notice of termination at the end of your contract term, your contract will be deemed as having being renewed.”
It was also contained in the petition that “after the expiration of her sabbatical leave, she applied for leave of absence from IAR&T, Ibadan and attached a letter of satisfactory performance from RECTAS”.
It was also made known in the petition that Dr Ande apparently “embarked on a vendetta to tarnish Professor Ogunmodede’s name” because the IAR&T Review Panel turned down her request for leave of absence in March 2012, and she believed Prof Ogunmodede failed to defend her application.
The Group stated that though Dr Ande claims to be fully back n the institute, she is still performing her duties at RECTAS.
Another paragraph of the petition stated that Mrs Ande was accused of “unethical and fraudulent practices” by her Post Graduate Supervisor at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof T. A Okusami. Dr Ande published two articles from her MSc thesis without “reference to the supervisor or even the institution where the thesis work took place,” an act that was referred to as “fraud” by the supervisor.
The Concerned Group also made it known that the supervisor found Dr Ande’s preliminary explanations unsatisfactory and therefore called for a panel to be set up “to unravel her allegations and to make judgment on the issues raised about her publications.”
The petitioners averred that anything said by Dr Ande should be treated with caution because “she became the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (IAR&T Chapter) for a two-year tenure in May 2008. She was supposed to leave office in May 2010. Rather, she continued while on sabbatical leave in RECTAS, Ile Ife. Till date, she is still ASUU Chairperson. ”