NUL boss rings up astronomical bill

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MASERU — The National University of Lesotho (NUL) has been paying thousands of maloti for the enormous phone bill that its vice-chancellor Adelani Ogunrinade has incurred while on suspension, the Lesotho Times can exclusively reveal.
Ogunrinade was suspended in August this year following allegations that he had inappropriately benefited from grant funds that had been availed to the university by Kellogg Foundation, an American philanthropic foundation that supports educational projects.
The university said his suspension is meant to allow investigations into the matter.
But while on suspension, Ogunrinade has been incurring monthly mobile phone bills of more than M20 000.
And NUL, which is funded mostly by the government and relies on taxpayers, has been paying.
His bills, leaked to this paper by a highly-placed source at NUL, shows that in August, the month he was suspended, Ogunrinade made calls worth M23 636 in 31 days. 
His biggest cost, according to the bill, is the 3G Data Roaming Calls that came to a massive M16 056.80.
It also showed that he spent M2 649 on Call Roaming and M2 241 on 3G Internet data calls.
In September NUL paid M20 318 for his phone bill.
He made 3G Data Roaming Calls worth M15 129 and roaming calls of M1 444. 
His 3G Internet data calls took M821. In real terms the figures mean that in August Ogunrinade spent money enough for monthly food allowances for 29 NUL students.
NUL students are given food allowances of about M800 per month.
In September Ogunrinade’s phone bill was enough to pay for food bills for 25 students.
It also means that in two months Ogunrinade’s calls took enough money to pay more than a dozen government employees.
Meanwhile, a report compiled by retired judge hired to investigate the alleged mismanagement of Kellogg Foundation funds recommended that the Vice Chancellor should repay the M100 000 he paid himself under the grant.
The Lesotho Times is in possession of a confidential report the retired judge, Mathanzima Maqutu, presented to the NUL council.
In his report Maqutu says Adelani Ogunrinade should repay the money because he paid himself without authorisation from the university’s organs or structures.
“The Vice Chancellor alone is not a university organ or structure, this is particularly so when he is acting for his personal benefit,” reads Maqutu’s report in part.
Maqutu also says no university rules allowed honoraria which Ogunrinade gave himself under the grant.
A honoraria is a voluntary payment for professional services offered free of charge.
Maqutu says Ogunrinade used the term honorarium “to conceal the truth about fees or wages.”
“It would seem this term honorarium is a term used to avoid calling a second salary or wages an academic gets by the proper name,” Maqutu said.
“The Vice Chancellor was not supposed to put honoraria in the proposal contrary to NUL regulations and policy.”
Another reason Maqutu says Ogunrinade should pay back the money is because his payment was not authorised in writing according to proper accounting rules.
Maqutu found no written evidence that the university council authorised Ogunrinade to pay himself M100 000.
Ogunrinade said the council chairman, Ramosehlana Mapetla, verbally gave him permission to pay himself honorarium, according to the report.
“There is no doubt that it was irregular and contrary to any known accounting practice to authorise a payment of (M100 000) verbally,” reads the report.
“Even where (in an emergency) that had happened, written confirmation would have been immediately sought.”
“No emergency that compelled the vice-chancellor to seek urgent verbal authorisation of payment to him personally as the Vice Chancellor is being claimed.”
“The chairman of council works or resides in Maseru which is only 34 kilometres away from the university. There are faxes that could be used for instant written authorisation in an emergency, if the vice-chancellor could not travel to Maseru or the chairman was very far overseas.
“There had to be some written signed proof before payment was made.
“Even when human error is taken into account, an experienced administrator and handler of money of his calibre cannot normally just give himself M100 000 without covering himself for audit and other purposes with some written document.”
Maqutu also says Ogunrinade should pay back because by managing the project funded by Kellogg Foundation he was doing the job he was already paid to do as chief accounting officer of NUL.
Maqutu said Ogunrinade’s self-appointment as the project director was wrong.
“The grantee of the WK Kellogg Foundation is the National University of Lesotho. So far I have not been shown where it appointed the vice chancellor to the position of project director of the Kellogg Foundation Grant and its project.”
Maqutu said when the registrar ’Masefinyela Mphuthing signed for the receipt of grant on behalf on NUL, Ogunrinade was cited as grantee only “for all enquiries relating to this grant.”
Maqutu dismissed Ogunrinade’s claims that Kellogg Grant Commitment gave him a “firm control” of the grant as a breach of agreement.
“That is exclusively a matter for the grantee — that is the National University of Lesotho.”
Maqutu also found that Ogunrinade wanted the university council to allow him to get the second M100 000 on top of the one he gave himself without permission.
Maqutu says Ogunrinade who “made money out of the Kellogg (Foundation) Grant still wanted to make money one last time.”

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