The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) has tendered unreserved apology to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, over a news report that he was on the payroll of the university as a facilitator.
The university further made it clear that the elder statesman had accepted to be rendering free services to the university in the same capacity.
The university made this known on Thursday in Abuja, through a statement signed by Mr Ibrahim Sheme, its Director of Media and Publicity.
The university said it was reacting to a story in a national newspaper on Wednesday that Obasanjo would earn N40,000 per annum as “NOUN lecturer’’.
Sheme explained that the story emanated from a news conference held by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, on Tuesday, ahead of the university’s 8th Convocation Ceremony slated for Saturday.
He said “While we remain grateful to all the media houses that give our activities positive coverage, we insist that their news reports should always be accurate and diligent.
“While it is true that the VC had told the gathering of journalists and NOUN staff present at the conference that the university had offered the former President, His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo a facilitation appointment.
“The honorarium mentioned in the newspaper publications is the generic amount the university issued in the appointment letters of all facilitators.”
Sheme said that Chief Obasanjo in his acceptance letter to the university, however, decided to render his services on a pro bono basis, i.e. free of charge.
The director denied that Prof. Adamu ever said at the event that the former president had taken or intended to accept any payment or salary for his services.
The university was emphatic about Obasanjo’s magnanimity in offering his valuable time to work at its Study Centre in Abeokuta, Ogun, as a facilitator on a part-time basis.
“For the records, therefore, we wish to clarify that His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is offering his services as a facilitator to NOUN absolutely free of charge and with no strings attached.
“The former President told the university that his decision was premised on the fact that he is giving back to the society out of the great bounties God and the university have given him.
“For this laudable and patriotic gesture of his, we remain immensely indebted to the former President and elder statesman,” the university said.
The Registrar, Mr Felix Edoka, had expressed the university’s regret over the inconveniences and embarrassment the newspaper publications might have caused to him.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the former president, through a statement on Wednesday by his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, had expressed concern over the news report, demanded immediate retraction and apology.
He said “The publication, which has generated mixed reactions from the public and calls from far and near on the elder statesman expressing concern, is to say the least, uncharitable, mischievous and in bad taste, with immediate demand for a retraction and apology from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor.” (NAN)