For accusing members of #fundLAUTECH of ‘misleading the public’ with their activities, the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoo, Alumni association, under the leadership of Mr. Babajide Bewaji, has been alleged of investing N3.2 alumni fund in the money making ‘Ponzi’ scheme, Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox, MMM, that collapsed months ago.
Bewaji, it would be recalled, was said to have issued a stern warning to #fundLAUTECH, an initiative set up by 5 alumni of the troubled institution to raise fund as a short-term palliative, to stop playing to the gallery.
According to Bewaji, “the initiative was well received and supported by me but not in concomitant with the way it’s being pursued by visiting political gladiators to achieve this,” adding that “the recent visit of this team to the Chairman of the Governing Council is self serving and disturbing. I need to ask; on which platform did they do this?”
He disclosed that the team had derailed from its main course, explaining that “we have an association that warehouses all the graduates with our thoughts and ideas, why would there be a parallel formation if we are all working towards the same interest?
“I don’t also see the reason why the supposed crisis-solving visits of the team should be taken to the social media at every instance. The association has made countless visits to governors and others without making it public owing to the sensitivity of the crisis at hand. This calls for concern”
But reacting, leader of #fundLAUTECH, Mr. Bayo Adeyinka said the team would have ignored Bewaji as they have done to several other reports which sought to malign the initiators.
He added that “Our attitude has always been that we will never reach our destination if we throw stones at every dog that barks. However, we are constrained to respond to these particular weighty allegations because we have confirmed that the press release actually emanated from the President.
Read their reaction:
We therefore wish to aver as follows:
1. At the conceptualization of the #fundLAUTECH initiative and before the roll out of same, several stakeholders were consulted. This consultation was extensive and it involved the National President of the Alumni, Mr Babajide Bewaji. We took time to explain the concept and also seek his blessing.
2. It was sequel to the National President’s endorsement that he gave us his consent to use his picture when the photo-countdown was done. Everyone whose pictures were used gave their consent before such were rolled out.
3. On June 12 which was the day the initiative was unveiled, the National Alumni President, who had earlier pledged to be physically present at the event was unavoidably absent due to another meeting which took place that day but finished late. However, the National PRO of the Alumni Association, Mr Samson Owoyokun was present at the event and even read a speech.
4. Periodic updates were given to the National President including amounts raised and people visited. These updates were via phone calls and text correspondences. The updates also include people visited and prospects. We even made attempts to make some joint calls with the President but for time. For instance, we called the President when we got an appointment with the Ooni of Ife but the President was not around. However, in some instances, some Exco members were present during such visits. For instance, the National PRO of the Alumni Association (Mr Samson Owoyokun) was part of the delegation that visited High Chief Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja while the National Secretary of the Alumni Association (Alhaji Kamal Oloso) actually facilitated the meeting with the Chairman of Quilox, Chief Shina Peller. Are the PRO and National Secretary not members of the National EXCO?
Furthermore, the President has access to ALL the fundLAUTECH initiators. Why did he then go to press over what he could have done via a phone call to any of us? Even when we differed in modus operandi ( the Babajide Bewaji-led Alumni Exco approached a senior lawyer to sue the owner states while fundLAUTECH advised against such a move because it would be counter-productive), we always resolved without any external involvement.
5. Most of the statements issued by the #fundLAUTECH team were forwarded to the National President for his review before they are uploaded on social media. For instance, the financial update given 30 days after the initiative started was sent to him via whassap and he acknowledged it before we released same to the general public. He was informed about any significant donation that was received.
6. We (the initiators) of #fundLAUTECH have never collected money from Alumni Association or ANY other individual to fund this project. All out of pocket expenses including transport, fuel, hotel and other logistics have been from our pockets. We challenge anyone with contrary information to speak up right here.
7. We also wish to state at the risk of sounding immodest that we (#fundLAUTECH initiators) jointly donated the sum of N1m (One Million Naira) during the unveiling on June 12. We believe this is the only way to show our full commitment to this idea. Our attitude is that we have to give back to our alma mata and not the other way round.
8. To show that we had nothing to hide and we are not a parallel organization as insinuated, the President of the National Alumni was made a signatory of the fundLAUTECH account. We informed him and got his consent to demonstrate transparency. He promised to forward his ID and passport photographs which are still being expected as at the time of this statement. Notwithstanding, his name is with the bank as one of the signatories.
9. We also wish to reiterate the fact that the #fundLAUTECH is a personal initiative. Furthermore, there is no where in our Association’s constitution where individual efforts to assist our alma mata has been banned. There is nowhere in our constitution where it is stated that similar efforts have to be channeled through the Alumni. The Alumni Association remains a voluntary association. We however have not pushed that line which is why we gave periodic updates to the National President.
10. We are concerned that the timing of the President’s press release coincides with our recent revelation that some of the delegates who went to Abuja recently to meet with the Senate President, His Excellency Abubakar Bukola Saraki were given a sum of One Million Naira which was shared among those on the trip which included lecturers, alumni members and non-academic staff. We frowned at this act which we believe was not in the interest of the 34,000 long-suffering students who are the real victims of the impasse. It is interesting to note that some of the actors have owned up to collecting money. We are at a loss as to why this aspect was kept secret until the cat was let out of the bag. It is on record that the fundLAUTECH team pulled out of the Abuja meeting when we suspected that there were other ulterior motives behind the trip.
11. We are aware that subsequent to this revelation, the #fundLAUTECH team was accused of inciting students against Alumni members. Less than 24 hours later, the press release came out. Could the press release of the President be an endorsement of this ignoble act? Is the President aware that money exchanged hands?
12. We have conducted the affairs of fundLAUTECH in a very transparent manner with the names of all donors and amounts on the website www.fundlautech.com. It is in our bid to ensure transparency that we have published all our efforts on social media for the whole world to see. Unfortunately, this is one area the National President complained about in his press release. We also want to challenge anyone with information about monies collected but not reported by us on the website to please speak out.
13. The President is aware of the reasons why fundLAUTECH decided to hug the transparency limelight. Our Alumni Association under Babajide Bewaji’s leadership has been embroiled in several allegations of financial misappropriation. One of the major allegations include the conversion of the Alumni’s funds (N3.2m) to investments in MMM. We believe it is time the President comes clear on these issues and others. Till date, there are pending petitions against the 2016 Annual Alumni Lecture where none of the members of the committee or executives know the amount released or how it was expended for the ceremony.
Furthermore, we are aware there is a report on the building committee where someone was said to have collected money for the supply of laterite and granite but didn’t supply. It is disheartening to state that it is public knowledge that Alumni funds are shared at NEC meetings with the disbursement of N3,000 per Alumnus with the approval of the President. To host NEC meetings, N100,000 per chapter is also released to the chapter. Why should Alumni funds contributed by graduating students be spent on such trivialities? Is this how other schools run their Alumni Association?
Is our Alumni Association not in need of forensic auditing also? We challenge the President to deny these allegations and even present the accounts of the Alumni for auditing.
14. We also wish to state that it is quite unfortunate that many have come to see the Alumni Association as a meal ticket. The President is surrounded by such people who will rather feed fat on alumni instead of thinking of what to do for the alumni. Albeit, the President has even encouraged them. This is not the way other tertiary institutions run their Alumni Association.
15. We are glad that the President did not accuse us of financial misappropriation. We however want him to explain how and where we impersonated him or any of his officers. We want to put it on record that our initiative put the issue of Lautech on the front burner. We succeeded in making Lautech a national issue. We took over social media and made sure Lautech was on the lips of everyone including newspapers, blogs, radio and TV stations. Our efforts led to Channels TV’s dedication of one hour to the issue of Lautech on their prime time programme- Sunshine Daily. Our activities put the two owner State Governors under pressure and culminated in getting audience with Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Some of us made enemies from those close to government as they believed we were embarrassing their Principals with our actions. We were maligned in several ways with some people constantly poking fun at our initiative and some writing us off as mere social media campaign. We even released a Lautech musical video shot in the studio. We promoted the resolution of the impasse through the use of our social capital. Our objective was not limited to raising N1b but getting the issue resolved which was why we traversed the polity to get as many people as possible involved. To impugn ulterior motives to this movement is callous and unfair.
We will continue to keep faith with the goals of our initiative and retire it through an endowment vehicle eventually. However, we believe our Alumni Association needs serious cleansing. This is the reason we didn’t pass the fundLAUTECH initiative through the Alumni Association. We will restate that the fundLAUTECH team is ready for scrutiny at ANY TIME. We have placed a curse on ourselves and our generations if we misappropriate the funds raised for the fundLAUTECH project. We remind everyone of the judgment of posterity.
We thank all those who have been part of this initiative. May God bless you. Please visit #fundLAUTECH facebook page for all our activities.