EXORDIUM: On the 22nd of January, 2019, Aderibigbe Yusuf Sunday, Administrator-General of the Great Independence Hall, was suspended indefinitely on charges of gross misconduct, extortion, negligence of duty, financial mismanagement, and abuse of power. Sequel to this, Chidera Anushiem decided to investigate the matter. He chronicles his findings in this report. Taking the five counts one after the other, he presents the true case of the matter after hearing from both sides.
It was Secena who once remarked that ‘he who comes to a conclusion without hearing the two sides of a matter must have been just in his conclusion, but he has not been just in his conduct.’ While tempers were rising like tumultuous tides on the floor of the Independence Hall Legislative Council, while accusatory stones were being pelted at AG Yusuf, the truth remained that it was their truth, whether it was the truth or not.
Bearing that in mind, this reporter strolled into the room of the Administrator-General in the dead of the night to hear from Mr, Yusuf. The counts, as well as the truths, half-truths, and lies are detailed in the following paragraphs.
COUNT ONE: GROSS MISCONDUCT
Just like it is in the case with the university’s Student Disciplinary Council, the phrase ‘gross misconduct’ is as vague as the scribblings of a mad man. To substantiate this count, it is necessary to substantiate the rest, as the veracity (or otherwise) of the other accusations will tell if he truly was guilty of gross misconduct.
COUNT TWO: EXTORTION
This count hinged on the hall package. In the first semester of the session, certain contractors — both Katangites and non-Katangites — tendered proposals for the production of the hall’s books. In total, about ten proposals were obtained from different people. But this was where the first problem arose. From all accounts, it was evident that the Administrator-General did not tender every man’s proposals to both members of the executive and the Legislative Council. Various testimonies from excos but the number of proposals tendered at different figures — some said seven while the others three.
It is the tradition of the hall to return rejected proposals and unused samples to the contractors. However, according to various accounts, after the contractor had been selected (who, despite the instruction of The Council, was not a Katangite), samples of the books were not returned to these contractors. A certain Mr. Ajibola, as well as other contractors who then approached the Administrator-General, were informed that rejected proposals are not returned anywhere. The Administrator-General also argued that since many of the Katangites gunning for the job were secondary producers, giving them the job made no sense. Only one Mr. Sola received his book samples.
The Council frowned with this and ordered the AG to return these books. These books were already written on and pages were torn out before they were handed back to these contractors. The contractors for the shirts are yet to receive theirs today. When contacted, students leaders differed on the matter, with some opining that the proposals are usually returned while the others being on the same view as the AG.
COUNT THREE: NEGLIGENCE OF DUTY
This count was hinged on the fractured relationship between AG Yusuf and his executives, among many other niceties. The relationship between Mr. Aderibigbe Yusuf and his executives has broken down so much that when asked when last they had a meeting, they did not know. When asked the details of their last meeting, many replied that they could not remember. One yet-to-be-identified executive revealed plans to have him beaten up for whatever reason.
The plaint of the executives is that they are not carried along with the administration of the hall. According to an insider source, the executives themselves are as clueless about governance as ordinary Katangites. In his defense, the Administrator-General does not believe this to be entirely true. According to him, everyone is responsible for his actions, as they were elected into different offices to carry out different functions. When put forward with the allegation that the last executive meeting was a long time ago, he showed evidence that a meeting was called on the 17th January — which only two excos attended.
Another allegation is that the administration had just begun to write sponsors for the hall’s week around 12 to 14 days before this report was penned, despite the Administrator-General claiming that sponsors were on ground. This allegation was confirmed to be true by the then acting Secretary of State, who has now temporarily taken Mr. Yusuf office. This constituted negligence to the Legislative Council, with Honourables arguing that this act of negligence could jeopardize the image of the hall and the success of the hall’s week.
In responding to this allegation, Mr. Yusuf point accusing fingers at budgetary issues within his executive committee, issues which will be addressed later in this report.
COUNT FOUR: FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT
Perhaps this was incensed the legislators, and Katangites, the most at the earlier-referenced sitting of the Legislative Council. First, the issue of box rooms was raised. Although not much was said about it, upon deeper investigation, it emerged that many box rooms which were due officers of the halls were sold at cut-prices. The uniform excuse given by Mr. Yusuf to all affected parties was that the then-hall warden struck out or asterisked the names. This line was also reeled out to this reporter.
The affected Katangites who were around the university came to make their claims to the then warden, while those who weren’t were forced to settle for other alternatives. As it turns out, the warden had nothing to do with those asterisks and/or cancellations. Some of these affected people included: The Speaker of the Legislative Council (as he confirmed to his reporter), the Editor-in-Chief of Indy Press, the President of the Literary and Debating Society, and a former Honourable of The Council who doubled as the Electoral Committee Chairman. The issue of how many box rooms were sold and for how much are yet to be ascertained.
Another key point was the financial angle of the hall package. It was alleged that Mr. Yusuf gave contracts to non-Katangites for the sake of kickbacks. This is perhaps one that the Honourables got wrong, as the samples submitted to Katangites and shown to this reporter were truly sub-standard. Whether his motives were sinister is a matter for discussion but based on the quality of samples submitted, the quality put out by Katangites (those shown to this reporter, it must be noted) were considerably poor.
COUNT FIVE: ABUSE OF POWER
Based on this moot point, a Honourable of the Council went as far as moving for the impeachment of Mr. Yusuf. First, the Council frowned at the fact that two Sports Commissioners were on the WhatsApp group page of the executives.
The hall recognizes Mr. Agboola Raphael as its Sports Commissioner, while a certain Adams is on the group as a Sports Commissioner. Mr. Agboola organized the just-concluded KEFA league, thus the Council questioned Mr. Adams presence on the WhatsApp page. Mr. Yusuf, in responding, claimed that Mr. Adams was made the substantive Sports Commissioner when Mr. Agboola resigned his position in pursuit of office at the Students’ Union level. Interestingly, Mr. Agboola’s letter did not get to the Council so he is still the recognized Commissioner.
In addition to this, the case of the budget of Mr. Olaogun Temitope was brought up. The Council had approved the sum of N93,000 for his office, with the sum of N70,000 meant for the hall’s arc. He is yet to receive that sum today, not because the funds are not available but because of ‘personal issues’ which Mr. Olaogun himself alluded to, but refused to disclose in a much-earlier interview with Indy Press. The project is yet to be executed and the sum is yet to be disbursed.
Perhaps the biggest scandal of all was that concerning the hall week’s budget. The Speaker of the Council, Mr. Popoola Hassan, had informed the executives that the Council wanted a speedy passage, thus, the executives were to meet and submit a budget at a meeting of the Finance and Budgeting Committee on the 19th of January, so as to facilitate the ratification and quick approval of same at the sitting of the Council on the 22nd of January. However, the executives failed to show up.
The executives believe that Mr. Yusuf had his council of advisers in the Hall Week Committee who didn’t carry the executives alone. They claimed, and rightly so, that not once did Mr. Yusuf ask them to prepare any budget. The Health Commissioner, Public Relations Officer and Sports Commissioner who are also key executioners of events during the Week, are not aware of the goings-on in the Hall Week Committee. When challenged on why this is so, Mr. Yusuf, according to his and many other testimonies, has continued to say that ‘it is not yet time’.
This lack of communication incensed the executives who, led by the Social and Buttery Commissioner, decided to submit their budgets to the Council behind the Administrator-General. In responding, Mr. Yusuf claimed that the week never had a budget but a rough amendment of the previous hall week with which he sends out proposals to potential sponsors. No one can tell if this is true or not. He also mentioned that his infamous ‘it is not yet time’ response is due to the fact that he is still ‘putting things in order’.
Many, including the Social and Buttery Commissioner himself, claimed that he was being carried along, a claim which, based on empirical evidence available, is not true. He is a member of the week, is present on the Committee’s WhatsApp group page, has been invited to the two meetings held — but refused to attend the second, and has been accused of being interested in only the ewa night.
In addition to these five counts, Katangites also voiced their displeasure that not one of the capital projects or entrepreneurship schemes promised by Mr. Yusuf have been carried out. This, along with the five counts, led to his indefinite suspension.
Many have (genuinely) argued that the suspension came a little too late, as, being neck-deep into preparations, it is foolhardy to suddenly upturn the arguments. This argument is valid. However, the Council defended its actions by arguing that the actions of Mr. Yusuf deserved consequences, which he duly got.
The Council may have been right, however, it is often said that you do not cut off your head because you have a headache. If these offences dated back to several months ago, it is the opinion of this reporter that he should have been punished then. But the law is the law. Although painfully nasty and sour at times, it must take its course.