Adewale Olasumboye, a lecturer at Ladoke Akintola University of Science and Technology (LAUTECH), has accused the institution of mismanaging the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) meant for his postgraduate programme at Howard University, in the United States.
Olasumboye told FIJ that LAUTECH’s management has also resorted to issuing threats and intimidating him after leaving him stranded in the United States.
The lecturer also claimed that the management was doing everything it could to absolve itself of its financial responsibilities to him.
“I’m still an employee of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology,” Olasumboye said.
“I finished my PhD in Howard University. If everything had gone well and everybody had fulfilled their own part of the deal, I should have been back in Nigeria since 2018. But because things didn’t work out well, I’m still outside the country”.
THE TETFUND ASDTI FUND
According to Olasumboye, TETfund grant was available to specific scholars serving in Nigerian universities.
“They call it the TETfund Academic Staff and Development Training Intervention Fund,” Olasumboye said.
“There are some conditions surrounding that fund. First of all, you need to be an employee of either a federal or state university in Nigeria. Your appointment must have been regularised also. In addition, you must have worked for the employer for about three years.
“I met all those conditions, and before I applied, I had already written the GRE and passed it. I wrote the exam and passed it. I later applied and secured the admission to Howard University in Washington DC.”
Olasumboye alleged that Simeon Olatayo Jekayinfa, the director of academic planning at LAUTECH, tried to prevent him from receiving the grant.
He said Jekayinfa told him he was not qualified enough to be a beneficiary of the grant.
“Two states, Oyo and Osun, shared interests in LAUTECH because they both laid a claim to the university. It seemed that natives from either state were in a cold war. There were also needless hostilities within the school. So, Oyo staff members would always try not to favour Osun staff members and vice versa,” Olasumboye said.
“It was probably on this basis that Professor Jekayinfa tried to discourage me from applying for the TETFund grant. We were from different states and he told me that I was not qualified tor TETFund’s ASDTI grant.”
According to the lecturer, Adeniyi Sulaiman Gbadegesin, the Vice Chancellor of LAUTECH, later told him he was qualified for the grant and encouraged him to proceed with his application.
ADMISSION TO HOWARD, DELAYED PAYMENT OF FEES
Olasumboye said he started his PhD programme at Howard University in 2014, after LAUTECH approved N26,075,755.00 through TETFund, for his studies.
He also said the approved amount were in two parts; N17,826,600 at first, then N8,249,155 later.
“The payments were made without compliance with TETFund guidelines. My tuition and living expenses were paid by the school into my salary account in naira. The school also deducted N97,138 from the fund without giving me any explanation,” he said.
“I incurred further losses while personally changing the money to dollars through Bureau de Change. Due to the delayed payments and loss of naira value at the time of payment by LAUTECH in 2016 and 2017, I had an extra semester and could not finish my programme in three years.
“As a result, I had to look for money out of budget and through alternate means, with a strong refund commitment, in order to finish in December 2017. I also had to do that to prevent further indebtedness to Howard.”
STRANDED IN WASHINGTON
The cost of living in Washington DC made it nearly impossible for Olasumboye to survive on his own. He told FIJ that he later turned to the US credit system for help.
“Taking credit meant that I had to repay loans before leaving the United States,” he said.
“I had to take loans to be able to foot my bills. There were a couple of credit cards and a few people helped me too. If there was no system put in place to help me, I might have forfeited the programme at Howard. I might have been homeless and lived like a vagrant waiting to be deported.”
THE TETFUND LETTER
At one point, Olasumboye said TETFund officials visited him and other scholars in Howard. He said he revealed his challenges to them.
In response, TETFund sent a letter to address the issue of “stranded foreign scholars”.
In the letter, the organisation announced the suspension of grants, giving the numerous complaints it received from beneficiaries as reason.
INTIMIDATION, MANIPULATION, LITIGATION
The lecturer said that despite a new administration and the appointment of a new vice chancellor, the institution still did not change its disposition towards him.
He said the new administration also tried to intimidate him.
“Leaving the US without repaying my loans may be perceived as credit card fraud. I came to this country on a study visa after all,” he said.
Olasumboye told FIJ that LAUTECH has sued him to court for refusing to return to Nigeria.
A 2019 memorandum from LAUTECH’s registrar stated that the university would consider another tranche of TETFund grant to Olasumboye on the condition that he returned to Nigeria.
LAUTECH wants Olasumboye to return, but he must receive funds from TETFund to clear all credit incurred.
“The committee, while considering the case of Mr. A. T. Olasumboye of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, resolved that in view of the new conciliatory position of Mr. Olasumboye and the letter of apology from him, he should be considered for another tranche of TETFund grant to enable him pay the outstanding school fees he claimed to owe the university where he did his PhD,” the memo read.
“It was also agreed that he should be made to sign bond form before the money would be released to him while he must give assurance that he would return to the University.”
Olasumboye told FIJ that he has decided to bear the living expenses and tuition for the extra semester of fall 2017.
Nonetheless, he is also still asking for $79,324 from LAUTECH to offset the loss and credit loans the school made him incur. He said he would have to pay back the numerous credit card loans he is owing before he could return to work in Nigeria.
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