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NUL must turn new leaf

PROFESSOR Adelani Ogunrinade’s tumultuous tenure as vice-chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) came to a premature end when he was fired on Friday.
The NUL Council, the institution’s highest decision-making body, decided to terminate Ogunrinade’s contract over allegations of financial embezzlement levelled against the professor.
His dismissal was inevitable.
Ogunrinade has been on suspension since last August.
The litany of charges levelled against Ogunrinade has made sensational reading since he was accused of dipping his fingers into a university grant from the Kellogg Foundation.
An internal audit outed the vice-chancellor as a spend-thrift who gallivanted at the university’s expense.
Some of his trips were either unathourised or fictitious, it was alleged.
Yet he would allegedly draw per-diems and allowances whenever he went on the unsanctioned trips.
This is not the kind of university head our country wants.
In fact, if the allegations are true, Ogunrinade should be nowhere near a position of responsibility let alone the vice-chancellorship of our highest institution of learning.
But the whole saga has exposed the limitations of the previous NUL Council under whose nose Ogunrinade allegedly misappropriated university funds.
Ogunrinade has only been at NUL for barely three years.
But during that short time he had already seen the loopholes in the systems at NUL that he allegedly exploited.
This would not have happened if those charged with overseeing the proper running of the school were vigilant.
While we are tempted to congratulate the new NUL Council for finally ridding our university of the allegedly fraudulent professor, we can only do so with caution.
NUL has a history of bungling dismissals of officials and staff.
Let’s not forget that Ogunrinade had challenged his suspension, which was supposed to end tomorrow, in court.
He was dismissing the allegations levelled against him as false and malicious.
We can only hope the team that investigated Ogunrinade’s alleged extravagance and misappropriation did a thorough job.
Without that the university could be forced to keep the Nigerian academic on its payroll even after he has left the country.
We don’t believe the government is in a position to pay an idle professor simply because some people failed to do an exhaustive probe into the allegations against Ogunrinade.
The Ogunrinade saga leaves us with valuable lessons.
One, the NUL authorities have to be prudent and thorough when recruiting the next vice-chancellor.
Our human resource problem in this country makes it important for NUL to have a manager whose vision is to train and mould competent graduates for the industry.
That means we must choose the next vice-chancellor carefully.
We do not want the NUL Council to spend energy, time and money investigating the activities of the next incumbent instead of focusing on improving the quality of education at the university.
The council ought to concentrate on ensuring NUL regains its lost glory as a university of repute in the region.
But that cannot happen if the university is rudderless.
That surely cannot happen with an embattled vice-chancellor who spends most of his time parrying various allegations.

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