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From Aviashima Toom, Makurdi

Benue State University, BSU, Visitation panel set up by Governor Samuel Ortom over two months ago has returned a danming verdict on the council and management of the institution, saying they engaged in gross abuse of financial regulations.

Chairman of the Panel, Prof Zachary Gundu made these disclosures when the panel submitted it’s report to the governor at the government House, Makurdi.

The panel were given a 13-point term of reference.

According to Prof Gundu, “the panel found that both council and management have not shown purposeful leadership over the university,” stressing that “in many instances, they overlooked breaches of university regulation, ignored directives of the visitor and not shown sufficient prudence in managing the lean resources of the university.”

The panel also found out that the allowances approved by the university council for the management “was outside existing scales and government circulars.”

For instance, it was revealed that ” each principal officer in BSU collects a housing allowance of more than N6million per annum as against N649, 939. 00 per annum in extant salary scales. This means that for every month, BSU principal officers collect N534, 856. 67 per month as housing allowance as against N54, 161.00 per month.”

Gundu alleged that there are other instances of payroll manipulation in respect of allowances of principal officers, especially against the former Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Charity Angya.

He cited the university council’s approval for renovation and furnishing of the Vice Chancellor’s lodge to the tune of N22million which the panel discovered was paid directly to the erstwhile Vice Chancellor.

In the panels’ words, even after receiving such sums, “when she moved into the lodge, she was given another N20million. She vandalised the lodge when she was moving out.”

Apart from the irregular payment of allowances to principal officers of the institution, the panel also uncovered 73 bank accounts operated by the university.

The visitation panel also identified other leakages including collection of indiscriminate sitting allowances by the boards of the university and payment of salaries to some qualified lecturers who gave false information on their former place of employment.

It was discovered that a certain lecturer in the department of psychology left the University of Lagos as Lecturer II but deceived the BSU management to employ as Senior lecturer.

The panel report indicates that even though the university authorities were aware of this, “the particular lecturer is still in the system making mockery of established regulations.”

On leadership and governance, the panel found that BSU has been hesitant to go out of its way to find the best leadership for the university.

Consequently, the Visitation panel observed that “the university at the moment stands the risk of coming across as an ethnic institution. If the vision of the university is to be global, good practice would require a global search for its leaders. If the vision is national, the university must search nationally for leadership. The vision cannot be ethnic and we must not encourage ethnic portrait of the university.”

Prof Gundu further told the governor that these are the areas the panel invited the state governor to focus on as the State government prepares to reposition the university.

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