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Great Ife: Whence Prof Elujoba, integrity personified

*A saviour nailed to be crucified by sinners

From Olaolu Olayeni

In all struggles, students don’t and I repeat, they don’t support corrupt people. It was like that in my days as a student and it hasn’t changed. Therefore, when you see students, willingly agreeing to forgo all they need to do and support a course, just know that there’s something extraordinary about it. The fight is symbolic, not because an innocent man, has been supported and freed from the traps of the principalities in the country, but because it shows and proves that as a people we can rescue ourselves if we are ready.

In the darkest days of our university when the whole world had lost hope in the future of this university, when integrity was in short supply among men and women of gowns, the university found hope in just one man and only one man.

Great Ife...our common heritage and patrimony
Great Ife…our common heritage and patrimony

This man is Elujoba: Prof. Anthony Adebolu Elujoba, Professor of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, came into office with the mandate as Vice Chancellor to stabilise the university at all cost. He realised that the system had decayed beyond normal. In fact, so many things in the system were going wrong. Promotion cases were selective. Political professors were made and people got teaching appointments without interviews. Waste and corruption dotted everywhere. Hostels were but prison yards. The unions were infiltrated and rendered ineffective. Propagandas were used to window dress the university while the real university was caving in.

Under the auspices of ‘Committee of Vice Chancellors’, a group not known to the law, workers’ salaries were illegally being deducted. In short, the greatness in Great Ife could only be seen in name and not in deed again.

To further their hold on the future of the university, the principalities pushed the agenda to install a Vice Chancellor. The workers, fearing for their future, decided to resist any Vice Chancellor that would continue to inflict pains on them. The result is the vacuum created in May 2016.

Workers, especially NASU, wanted the illegal deductions stopped. They also wanted a refund. It was in the midst of this that God Himself intervened in the affair of men. He sent Prof Elujoba to rescue the situation.

Indeed, he wasn’t one of the people to be considered for the job.  His name came up after 13 others were screened out. At that point, not a single soul could resist his nomination. The Senate of the university later authenticated his appointment by voting massively for Prof Elujoba.

EFCC...need for justice and fairplay
EFCC…need for justice and fairplay

Having accepted to serve, he started by visiting the hostels to have the situation assessment. On his first visit, he wept when he saw the quagmire and the decays in the hostels. It should be pointed out that the Prof Idowu Bantale Omole administration had claimed and publicised that all hostels had been renovated. Within his first six months he did all he could to turn around the hostels. The university started running with no hitch. It was unprecedented. At a point, the workers wanted something done concerning the illegal deductions and the outstanding arrears.

In one of the meetings, this request took a diametrically new dimension. They knew one obstacle on their way and that is the Bursar. She had been one of the principal arrowheads that had been used to frustrate their demands.

On that fateful day, the workers, especially NASU, were ready for the showdown. This time it was going to be gory. Either they got their demands or they killed the Bursar. And this was not going to be a mere threat; it was going to go down in the history of the university as a day that a Bursar was mobbed and killed. The tension was palpable and the workers were making good their threat. All sorts of weapons came out of their hidings.  They seized on the bursar and dragged her to her resting place. It was in the presence of the Acting Vice Chancellor. He struggled ineffectively to rescue her from them. Few punches landed on his face in the process. Also in the soup was the Registrar. When it was clear they were not joking, Prof Elujoba demanded if there was money to get them paid. Again note that TSA had been in operation by then.

There and then, the bursar disclosed there were some accounts from where the money could be raised. This meant one thing: until that day, Prof Elujoba himself did not know about the accounts. There and then, in the presence of everyone, agitators and all, the circular to pay was signed on human desk as one of the agitators bent his back to so function.

That was the beginning of corruption charges levelled against Prof Elujoba. One may ask at this point if Prof Elujoba is corrupt the way EFCC has made the public believe. There are many ‘breaking news’ items; few of them are to be taken seriously. When the so-called breaking news of Prof Elujoba scrolled repeatedly, I was depressed. That night I could only toss to and fro on my bed. I tried to do something else to preoccupy myself, but I was fatigued by the news. A night looked like a year.

I made few contacts and found that almost everyone who had heard about the news that broke had broken down. In that state of mind, I started ruminating about a man who refused himself most protocols and paraphernalia of the office he occupied; about a man who fasted almost everyday and would hardly eat the delicacies provided for his office; about a man who spent his money to get himself accommodation whenever he was on official duties; about a man who once remitted to the university account the cheque issued in his name. This latter case actually got me thinking.

A cheque had been issued to Professor Elujoba, and that money was meant for him. He ordered that the money be paid into the university account. His argument was simple: if he had not occupied that position he wouldn’t have been given the cheque. Therefore, the money, he reasoned, was meant for the office and by extension for the university and not for him.

His offence has a lot to do with his insistence on not joining the Committee of Vice Chancellors. This Committee is the evil that has befallen our university system. It’s a clog in the wheel of progress in the educational sector. The Committee, although not recognised by the law, is so powerful that it dictates where it wants the university education to head.

Unfortunately, it has directed the ivory towers in the country into a bottomless pit. It is made up of the cabals milking the education system in Nigeria. The only unifying thread holding its members together is corruption and the antics to cover up their deeds while in office. No holy person would want to associate himself with this demon and remain the same. Thus, realizing this, he kept the Committee at arm’s length. At the inauguration of the new Vice Chancellor, he advised the incoming VC NOT to join them and this he did publicly. This act angered the Committee.

Prof Elujoba therefore must be punished for this sin. EFCC being a puppet in the hand of the highest bidder is a veritable means to get at this man. It is easy in this case because there is an insider in the EFCC office who is willing to act this script. The same element in the EFCC office had suppressed many petitions written against the previous administrations of Prof Omole and Faborode.

Rather than looking into these petitions, the culprits were given a VIP treatment. Another sin of Prof Elujoba is that he dared to investigate these past administrations. Thirty-seven panels of enquiry were set up to look into various facets of the university. When the reports are eventually made known to the public, they will reveal the most monumental fraud that has ever happened in any university. These and others are the fear of the Committee and the OAU extractions.

I can only surmise that the tribes of Prof Elujoba lived some decades ago when Nigeria was a decent country. Painfully enough the icon lives in our contemporary corrupt country where good ones are being debased to make way for the corrupt ones.

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