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Sort out crisis at NUL

by Lesotho Times
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LAST week National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice-Chancellor Professor Adelani Ogunrinade came under renewed pressure to step down.

Ogunrinade, who has been fire-fighting over the past two years over his management of the university, is being accused of violating university regulations and neglecting his duties.

He has however defiantly resisted calls for him to step down.

We think it is still premature to pass any verdict on the vice-chancellor regarding the numerous charges that he is facing.

However if it is proved that Ogunrinade is indeed neglecting his duties then the axe must fall on his head.

Ogunrinade is a holder of an impeccable CV. He is certainly no charlatan.

He studied veterinary medicine at the University of Ibadan obtaining distinctions in medicine, surgery and parasitology in 1974.

He was also awarded a post-doctoral qualification from Harvard.

With this impressive academic record it is critical to ask: What has gone wrong at NUL?

Last week the Lesotho University Teachers and Research Union (LUTARU) and the Non-Academic Workers Union (NAWU) raised the stakes and called for the vice-chancellor’s ouster.

The two unions said Ogunrinade had presided over the collapse of the university ever since his appointment to the top job.

The chairperson of the Council of Higher Education and Senior Research Fellow, Dr Samuel Motlomelo, said Ogunrinade should be suspended pending a full investigation.

He alleged that the “vice-chancellor was never around” to deal with problems at the university as he spent most of his time gallivanting around the world.

Motlomelo said this was having a negative impact on the operations of the university.

LUTARU chairman, Ramohapi Shale, told the same press conference that Ogunrinade had wilfully neglected his duties since his appointment.

He alleged that the vice-chancellor had failed to submit annual reports detailing progress made by the university.

He alleged that a report compiled by the vice-chancellor in his first year was rejected by the university council “because it was not up to the standard expected of a chief academic officer”.

He also alleged that the university had seen an increase in the number of labour disputes.

The university had lost most of these because the vice-chancellor was reluctant to take advice from internal legal advisers, Shale said.

Shale also alleged that because of these problems NUL was losing senior lecturers to neighbouring South Africa leaving inexperienced junior staff in charge.

These are quite serious charges.

The allegations should certainly warrant a fresh look at the problems that have bedevilled our university at Roma over the past couple of years.

In the light of these damaging claims we think it is only proper for Ogunrinade to step down to allow a full investigation.

It would be in the interest of the vice-chancellor to allow such an investigation. This is the only way he can clear his name.

His reputation, which he painstakingly built over years, is at stake.

Ogunrinade’s mission at NUL is to promote academic excellence and provide able leadership.

But given the constant problems at the university we think NUL is not getting any of the above.

For far too long we have associated NUL with the negative:  financial scandals, hooliganism, drunken bouts and unending student protests.

For example, the vice-chancellor is still fighting to clear his name over allegations that he abused donor funds from the Kellog Foundation.

We expect the university to concentrate on its core business – educating our children and preparing them for the immense challenges associated with the 21st century.

We are of the strong view that NUL is too important a national institution to be allowed to collapse under our watch. For that reason we demand urgent action by the authorities.

Education Minister Mmamphono Khaketla must intervene and sort out the crisis at NUL once and for all.

The ball is now in your court, minister.

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