ROMA — Pressure is piling on the National University of Lesotho (NUL) council to suspend vice-chancellor Adelani Ogunrinade for allegedly flouting university regulations, neglecting duties and poor performance.
Ogunrinade, who was appointed vice-chancellor in 2006, is also accused of abusing funds from a Kellogg Foundation programme undertaken in conjunction with the NUL.
The latest calls for Ogunrinade’s ouster came from the Lesotho University Teachers and Research Union (LUTARU) and Non-Academic Workers Union (NAWU).
The two organisations told a press conference on Monday that they also wanted the NUL council chairman, Ramosehlana Mapetla, to step down because he had failed to deal decisively with the vice-chancellor.
LUTARU chairman Ramohapi Shale said they wanted the vice-chancellor suspended because he had performed dismally and neglected his duties since his appointment.
“All lecturers are of the view that Mr Ogunrinade, who has been at the helm for two years, should be suspended,” Shale said at the press conference at the NUL campus.
“He has not been able to live up to the standards set by the university. He has been here for two years and he has not released any of the required annual reports on the university’s progress.”
Shale said Ogunrinade’s initial progress report was rejected by the NUL council because “it was not up to the standard expected of a chief academic officer”.
“His first annual report was rejected because of poor quality,” he said.
“It was the first time in the history of NUL for the council to reject a vice-chancellor’s progress report. He was instructed to rewrite it and the second version has not been approved.”
Shale said under Ogunrinade the NUL has seen a sudden increase in the number of labour disputes.
He said the university had lost most of the cases because the vice-chancellor was reluctant to take advice from internal legal advisers.
“We have internal legal advisers who half the time advise the university to settle out of court, but Mr Ogunrinade (ignores) their advice,” Shale said.
“This has resulted in the NUL losing money. The costs of these cases range from M40 000 to M100 000 each, from legal fees to employee compensations.”
Shale also accused Ogunrinade of spending most of his time on foreign trips.
“The worst part is that lecturers with outstanding qualities are resigning and seeking greener pastures in South Africa because of the frustrating state of affairs at the university,” he said.
“As we speak, there are lecturers working on notice now. It has become the norm for lecturers to resign.”
He said junior lecturers were burdened with responsibility because they are taking over from qualified and skilled lecturers who would have resigned.
“This affects the standard of education immensely. It is a serious cause for concern,” Shale said.
He said they were also calling for the NUL council chairman, Mapetla, to relinquish his post because he had failed to deal with the vice-chancellor.
“Ogunrinade has implicated Mapetla citing that he was the one who authorised him to use money from the Kellogg Foundation. He said he has also been approving all of his trips overseas,” said Shale.
Shale said this was probably why Ogunrinade’s suspension was being delayed.
He said the council had approved the suspension over a month ago and education minister, Mmamphono Khaketla, was notified of the decision.
He said the letter was however rejected because it was not accompanied by prerequisite documents.
“There were supposed to be minutes of the council meetings and other documents to justify the suspension. But for some reason they were not attached.”
He said LUTARU and NAWU wanted Mapetla to go “because indications are that he has been covering up for Ogunrinade and intentionally delaying his suspension”.
NAWU chairperson Mphasa Chonela also alleged that Ogunrinade and Mapetla were working in “cahoots”.
The chairperson of the Council of Higher Education and Senior Research Fellow at the university, Dr Samuel Motlomelo, also said the vice-chancellor must be suspended pending a proper investigation.
Motlomelo said the allegations of corruption and misconduct by the vice-chancellor were having a negative impact on the university.
“For two years the NUL Council has been dragging its feet with regard to effecting Mr Ogunrinade’s suspension. It is worrying because it has a huge bearing on the university’s structure. As the chairperson of the advisory council of higher education policy, I am worried,” Motlomelo said.
He also alleged that the vice-chancellor was “never around at the university but the council has never taken any disciplinary measures against him”.
“He jumps from one (plane) to the next,” Motlomelo said.
Motlomelo said the worst part was that Ogunrinade was using the nation’s funds to maintain his globe-trotting.
“I remember when I collected him from the airport for an interview a few years ago. He asked whether it was really true that in Lesotho one can shelve their salary and live high on project monies and per-diems. This explains a lot about the Kellogg Foundation funds he paid unto himself,” said Motlomelo.
Mapetla said he is not aware of the suspension letter that LUTARU and NAWU claim he should have written.
“It is nonsense that I am working in cahoots with the vice-chancellor,” said Mapetla.
He said the allegations that he had allowed Ogunrinade to use Kellogg funds and undertake foreign trips were “rubbish”.
“I am not aware that the vice-chancellor has implicated me. It is not for me to suspend the vice-chancellor,” Mapetla said.
“It is wrong for people to make such scandalous allegations because I have performed my duties to the rule book.”
He also rubbished calls for him to step down.
“Those people did not appoint me and therefore they cannot call for my removal. They are not my employers,” Mapetla said. “Everything that has been said in the media on this case is actually news to me.”
Ogunrinade could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country.