December 31, 2017.
Comrade Shobowale Lukman Olawale (Eminent); immediate past President of Unilorin Student Union.
One man that has tasted firsthand, different shades of criticisms both within and without office, is the immediate past President of Unilorin Student Union, Mr Shobowale Lukman Olawale, popularly known as Eminent.
Previous criticisms and allegations were made by people outside of his inner circle. They were basically members of the Press, and others who had an axe to grind with him for reasons best known to the parties.
The most recent chain of allegations however, is coming from a member of his inner circle during his reign as President of the Student Union; Comrade Afolayan Kazeem (Halogen).
It could be recalled that Mr Afolayan slammed a damning allegation against Eminent that he, among other things, instructed him not to take stock of delivery of the souvenirs approved for onward delivery to Unilorin students.
In view of the gravity of the allegation and the likely consequence it will have on the Eminent administration, members of the Determination Unshakeable Team have taken turns to say what they know about the scandal.
Based on the accounts given so far, a common thread seems visible in the fabric of the saga: Either Eminent or Halogen may have DIRECTLY connived with the CEO of Arroshyd Printing Press, to allegedly swindle students of the University of Ilorin of over 1.5 million naira. Or Arroshyd may have acted independently by not delivering the exact quantity of souvenir in line with contractual terms for reasons yet to be made public.
In this exclusive interview with UCJ UNILORIN, Mr. Shobowale gives clarity to some of the grey issues raised against him by his former colleague, Mr Afolayan Kazeem (Halogen) in a bid to set the record straight.
UCJ: Can we meet you?
Eminent: I’m Lukman Shobowale. A Corps member, formerly Student Union President, UNILORIN.
UCJ: How would you respond to the souvenir scandal making the rounds now? For the purpose of clarity, it has been revealed that about 7,944 copies of the 15,000 souvenirs approved by your administration are missing. Your take, please?
Eminent: Well, to start with, I’m as shocked as everyone hearing for the first time, around last two weeks when I was informed by Reedorf at the situation of things. Immediately I dropped his call, I called some members of my executives to confirm as well as Halogen, the Welfare Secretary at that time who had taken the delivery at the onset and had certified all items complete (15000) during our tenure before the Financial Secretary paid. After my call to him, he emphasized to me like he’d told Reedorf earlier that he’d confirmed delivery of 15000 so he’s not aware of where the issue is from and then I hanged up the call.
Surprisingly though, few minutes later, he dropped a WhatsApp message to the executive WhatsApp group that I instructed him not to count and that the contractor had a deal with me so I should be asked why the package is not complete and this is the genesis of the whole scandal because since then, I’ve availed myself to questions to clarify that all he said never happened except that he’s lying. But we’ve not heard from him since then and all attempt to reach him to establish his claim has been abortive.
UCJ: Do you have any personal grudge with Halogen because the way it seems, people feel he has a score to settle with you?
Eminent: I hold no personal grudge against any member of my executives and Halogen inclusive. We all departed the Union in peace as Afolayan Kazeem (Halogen) even came to my book launch at the end of my administration and made a pledge on my book although not fully fulfilled till now. But that aside, I can say I’ve no grudge whatsoever against him. I’m as shocked as everyone with all the recent dramas. In fact, we did our NYSC registration together. I didn’t just see him as an executive, I saw him as a friend.
UCJ: What effort have you made to contact the contractor who handled the souvenir contract?
Eminent: I’ve done all I can to get in touch with him to no avail. It’s either he’s on a bike today and he’s unable to talk or he’s busy and as such can’t talk.
Surprisingly though, he called me on Thursday and I threw strategic questions to him immediately such as “Did I collect a dime from you on Souvenir project? Did we have any unholy alliance or deal? Why is it a discussion now that souvenir is incomplete (a development new to me). In all honesty, he couldn’t really answer me as all he said was that he’ll call me back but I await his call till then.
In fact we ran into an argument discussing that as I believe all he needed to do is just come out and clear the air but I wonder why he’s said nothing till now. I also added the contractor to the executive WhatsApp group at the beginning of this allegations so that he can give us a true picture of things but all he did was to be silent and exiting the group the second day while he told me not to drag him to the issue in a DM and take responsibility which amazed me till now.
UCJ: Mr President, how is it possible for such a huge volume of souvenirs to be missing under your watch as President and you claim not to know anything about it?
Eminent: I’ll be unfair on our administration to conclude that way but what we all know is that the officer in charge of taking stock as well as Union properties affirmed to us all in our meeting that the souvenirs have been completely delivered by the contractor (Arroshyd Printing Press); a situation that necessitated us to ask the Financial Secretary to pay and which she diligently did.
UCJ: Halogen alleged that you made a request for money from the CEO of Arroshyd Printing Press as part of your kickback from the souvenir contract. How would you react to this?
Eminent: I don’t react to issues. Permit me to respond appropriately. I never asked for any money from the contractor and he didn’t offer me any money either. If he insists, he should tender his evidence. I however assure you that I’ve nothing to hide hear as I’ve not involved myself with anything ‘unholy’ with the contractor.
UCJ: But he (Halogen) claims to have seen the purported message you sent to the contractor asking for money?
Eminent: Evidence settles arguments. The onus is on him to furnish the public with that fact so they can believe. But I can assure you that such never happened. Only God can reward my administration for our service in the Union. I know of members of my administration that the only thing they can show for as being a member of the Union is their certificate of service. We did our best and to say otherwise, such person must present facts.
UCJ: Did you instruct Halogen not to count the souvenirs after delivery?
Eminent: I never did and could never have done so. Why will I tell him not to count the souvenir that all our administration earnestly wanted to deliver in our time as that will be our pride and achievement? I affirm that I never told him such and that’s why I could alongside other executives ask him if it has been successfully delivered at our meeting which he affirmed in the presence of all of us that it’s completely delivered by the contractor. I called him when this issue initially came up and he said it’s still 15000 as counted before he’s unable to pick my calls again till now.
UCJ: Do you think your former colleagues have a score to settle with you, especially Halogen?
Eminent: Well, in as much as this is not something I can single handedly respond to as I may not know what each one of them harbours in mind unknown to me, I’ll still say that despite our differences, they appear to me as the best team anyone can pray for, as together, we delivered service to students under the Determination Unshakable mantra. However, for Halogen, I don’t know why he’s chosen this path to follow and I could have just apologised if he ever told me I offended him than raising issues I know nothing about to distract my festive mood and countenance.
UCJ: What do you have to say to Unilorites over the allegations leveled against you by Halogen?
Eminent: Marcus Cicero is known to have said “As fire when thrown into water is cooled down and put out, so also a false accusation when brought against a man of the purest and holiest character, boils over and is at once dissipated, and vanishes and threats of heaven and sea, himself standing unmoved.”
I want to assure all that as always, our determination remains unshakable.
UCJ: One of your former colleagues disclosed that the souvenir contract was awarded without official documentation. To what extent is this true?
Eminent: By documentation, it’s basically about the award of contract. It dragged on because we could not produce the 25000 copies approved initially because the contractor due to certain constraints from his end couldn’t meet up with the deadline we gave him which is two weeks after resumption. For this delay, the Union had undertaken other basic projects and making her unable to finance 25000 copies plus the fact that we didn’t get all our fund from the university at that time. This was the reason why all the executives had to sit to reschedule that the contractor should produce 15000 as against the initial 25000 which the Unions budget cannot afford.
UCJ: Thank you for reaching out, Mr Shobowale.
Eminent: You’re most welcome.
Osuji Chima Francis
Tomori Uriel Idowu
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