With the uproar generated last week, for the upgrading of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta to Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology (MAUSTECH), the technical committee set up to midwife the take-off, affirmed that rather than shrink the workforce of the institution, it will open new job opportunities. Funmi Ogundare and Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta, report
Penultimate week, precisely on July 3, the National Universities Commission (NUC), granted the approval for the upgrading of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, to Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology(MAUSTECH) through a recognition letter to the Ogun State government.
The NUC Executive Secretary, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, who delivered the letter to Governor Ibikunle Amosun, at the NUC Headquarters, Abuja, said MAUSTECH is now the 45th state university and the 85th public university in the country, and that the take-off of the university will mean that Ogun State will now have three state universities.
According to him, â€œOgun state is the intellectual capital of black Africa. From the NUC records, Olabisi Onabanjo University and Tai Solarin University of Education are two state universities but the addition of the University of Science and Technology will make it three.
â€œWhat this shows is that the governor is really doing well as he has the education of the state at heart. Beginning from July 3, 2017, the polytechnic has now been recognised as the 45th state university in Nigeria.â€
Rasheed also noted that the commission did not just create the institution for access alone, but the integrity and sanctity of the degree in Nigeria university.
He said an average graduate of Nigerian university with a very good average degree earned (2-2) in a good university in Nigeria and qualifies for any university in the world performs better.
â€œOur qualities are of international standard, we have high standard in the quality of education in Nigeria. We are still working to review our curriculum to make it more competitive and ensure that it is of international best standards to solve our problems.
â€œWe want to graduates students who are familiar with our culture, tradition, history, science; and we want those graduates to be citizens of the world who can fit in anywhere. We want to assure Nigerians that the quality of our degree is quite okay and we are working to improve on it,â€ he said.
He called on other governors to take a cue from Ogun state governor and advance the course of the university system in the country.
Amosun in his response said for any nation to get it right, the tertiary institutions must do well and that the upgrade of the polytechnic to a university was done through the enabling law of the Ogun State House of Assembly.
He said the university would be a reference point as the government of the state was committed to leaving no stone unturned to take it to greater height and that certain funds had been created for the funding of the university.
â€œAs we are upgrading the polytechnic to a university, we are earlier in Kaduna today to establish a new polytechnic because we donâ€™t want the polytechnic to die like that, so we are relocating the Polytechnic to Ipokia area of the state.
â€œThe University Science and Technology will now be in Abeokuta.â€
The governor said a technical committee had been brainstorming in the last six years on the way forward to bring this to fruition and the university would also help to develop the human capital that would improve the industrial hub of the state.
He, however, promised to provide science and technology solution to areas in health, security and environmental challenges bedeviling the country.
Just as the governor had stated, an 11-man technical committee was later inaugurated to midwife the take-off of the proposed Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology, Abeokuta and the Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia.
The committee consisted of former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) who is Chairman, Professor Peter Okebukola, Prof. Oludele Itiola as the secretary, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Prof. Rahmon Bello, Prof. Ganiu Olatunde, Prof. Femi Bamiro, Dr. Sabur Raji, Dr. Ebenezer Nkom, Chief Ronke Folarin, Mr. Bola Bankole, as well as Mr. Rahim Jimoh.
The governor at the inauguration ceremony, assured that his government would fully support and implement the recommendations of the committee.
According to him, the decision for the upgrade of the polytechnic to a university of science and technology and the establishment of the Ogun state polytechnic was to ensure that his administration leaves a lasting legacy in the education sector in the State.
He advised members of the committee to bring their wealth of experience in university management and administration to bear and fast track the establishment of the institutions, stressing the need for the committee to facilitate and obtain all necessary approvals for the take-off of the institutions.
Former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Chairman of the committee, Professor Peter Okebukola, in his acceptance speech, affirmed the determination of the committee to ensure that the institutions become pacesetters for all universities of science and technology and polytechnics in the country.
He also promised to apply global best practices in the set up of the institutions, adding that high value researches from the institutions would aid socio-economic development of the State in particular and Nigeria in general.
Scared about the consequence of the upgrading of MAPOLY to MAUSTECH, the lecturers, last week, caused an uproar and paralysed academic activities shutting the entrance gate of the institution, to protest an alleged directive the chairman, transition committee of the polytechnic into MAUSTECH, Prof. Peter Okebukola, that they should resign their appointments and reapply.
The lecturers also alleged that, during a meeting with the institutionâ€™s ASUP executive members, Okebukola had referred to them as â€˜road side teachers,â€™ unfit to teach at MAUSTECH.
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), MAPOLY branch, after a congress , declared it would resist any move not to consider them in the arrangement for the university noting that the transition committee wanted to deprive them from what they had laboured for.
Giving conditions for the conversion of a polytechnic into university of science and technology, Okebukola told THISDAY in a telephone conversation that , there has to be an enactment of an enabling law, availability of resources for delivering quality university education such as laboratories, workshops, lecture rooms and staff offices.
Other conditions are; an academic brief which states the courses to be offered from take-off through to the next 10 years, a physical Master Plan, as well as availability of human resources (teaching and non-teaching) to deliver the curriculum.
He refuted in its entirety the report that the technical committee on the newly-established MAUSTECH has ordered the sack of over 250 staff of MAPOLY, saying it is in complete contrast to the position of the committee that no member of staff will suffer job loss as a consequence of the upgrading and the establishment of Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia as the successor of MAPOLY
According to him, â€œwe held a meeting with all staff at the beginning of our assignment and conveyed our position on job security. This position has been re-echoed in subsequent meetings with staff unions. It is curious that some persons have taken undue liberty of misinforming the general public with the spread of such fake news.
â€œWe have given the good people of Ogun State a pledge that in the shortest possible time, MAUSTECH and Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia will be among the brightest stars in the firmament of quality higher education in Nigeria, indeed in Africa.â€
The chairman added that the committee will still go ahead with a roundtable discussion with the union, noting, â€œ dialogue is the answer and we will actively engage the unions and other stakeholders so that the two institutions take-off this academic session.â€
Okebukola reassured that even the lecturers are unable to meet the criteria for the conversion, there will be no job loss.
â€œIndeed, the committee has no power to sack anybody. All staff should be rest assured. It will be a win-win situation for all.â€
He expressed delight about the establishment of two institutions from MAPOLY saying it will open new job opportunities rather than shrink the workforce.
â€œWe urge all staff to be vigilant and shun misinformation that may be peddled in some quarters, â€œhe said