In FUOYE, It’s Peace in the Midst of Storm

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Raheem Akingbolu, who was recently at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, reports that the growth of the seven-year-old institution is still being threatened by internal crisis

 

This is not the best of times for students and management of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti. At the moment, where three to four students or staff gather, the stories are either about the unceremonious dismissal of the acting Registrar, Mrs. Koyejo-Fasakin or the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).  

Other issues that are generating debate on the campus are the report of the Staff Disciplinary Committee on TETFund which led to the dismissal of two lecturers; the attempt being made by some faceless individuals to divide the university’s chapter of ASUU; and how a case of sexual harassment and aborted baby in the hostel, between a 100-level student, Precious Azuka and one Prof. Adewole Atere was cleverly swept under the carpet by the management.

Perhaps the major issue on the campus has to do with the case of forced exit of the institution’s only substantial Registrar since inception, Mr. Daniel Adeyemo, which is still pending at the National Industrial Court. Another pending case that is rattling the university community involves two lecturers, Dr. Oniyide Akingbe of the Department of English and Literary Studies and Dr. Oluwagbemiga Adeyemi of Demography and Social Statistics. Both lecturers were recently indicted for misappropriation of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFundand were subsequently sacked over allegations of gross misuse of research grants.

The university had recently set up an investigation panel to look into the utilisation of TETFund intervention grant. The committee, headed by the Dean, Faculty of Social Science, Prof J.S Omotola was mandated to investigate all cases of TETFund intervention outstanding funds, consider beneficiaries, who failed to submit reports in line with stipulated guidelines, investigate cases of abscondment of beneficiaries, misuse of such grants and make appropriate recommendations.

 

In its report, the panel alleged that the duo of Akingbe and Adeyemi not only failed to carry out the research; the topic was not in the research interest areas of the lead researcher. The committee, quoting the testimony of one of the team members, Dr. C.A Abrifor said it found it ‘curious that Abrifor, a lecturer I who was barely six months old in the university at the time could be made the lead researcher in a research team.

However, in what looked like an attempt to divide the ASUU, an announcement was recently made by the newly formed Congress of Nigerian Academia of Universities (CNAU) that lecturers at FUOYE have backed out of the ongoing strike.The leader of CNAU in the university, Ayodeji Ige, who made the announcement, added that lecturers in the institution had switched their membership and allegiance to CNAU. 

Of course, this generated hot debate and counter-accusation among the lecturers but it was quickly nipped in the bud as the ASUU leadership in the university dismissed the purported backed out as a diversionary attempt by some enemies of the association to cause division.

During a visit to the campus by this reporter, it was not only confirmed that the strike has indeed paralyzed academic activities, some lecturers who were reported to be members of CNAU distanced themselves from the association. For instance, Dr. Ademola Akinsorotan, who was said to be a leader of CNAU, told THISDAY in a telephone conversation that he is a member of ASUU and not CNAU. It was also confirmed that Akinyemi Omonijo PhD, of the Department of Water Resources Management and Agrometeorology is still the Chairman of ASUU at the university.

“I am not a member of CNAU, but an executive of ASUU- the acting Secretary of the union. CNAU and other unknown forces within ASUU, FUOYE chapter, will soon fizzle out,” Akinsorotan said.

Also speaking on whether the strike is still on in the university or not, the ASUU Treasurer in the institution, Dr. Olatayo Olaniyan likened the issue with the fable of the blind and the market.

“A blind doesn’t need anybody to tell him whether the market is still on or not. The moment he couldn’t hear the noise in the market, he knows the truth. This is a working hour and here I am with my family at home. If the strike is not on, I should either be in the class or my office. What I am saying in essence is that ASUU FUOYE is still part of the national strike until the national body of our great union says otherwise,” Olaniyan stated. 

In a related development, the alleged death threat raised by one of the unions in the university is currently under investigation at the Ekiti State Police Command and Directorate of State Security, Ado-Ekiti. Investigation by our correspondent shows that the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Kayode Soremekun had been interrogated on the matter. 

THISDAY findings also revealed that numerous protest letters bothering on injustice and double standard by the FUOYE management from both academics and non-teaching staff are already before the governing council of the university.

While questions are being asked on why the university management has not considered it fit to appoint a new bursar after the sudden death of the last bursar, Mr. Adebayo Adejuyigbe, who slumped and died during the governing council’s meeting in Lagos, some are also concerned about the removal of Mrs. Koyejo-Fasakin as the acting registrar last month. To this end, this reporter called the acting registrar to shed more light on the circumstance that led to her removal, but she declined any comment.

However, the fate of Daniel Adeyemo, the substantial Registrar, who has been battling to save his career for over a year, is still hanging and it remains a subject of debate, especially now that the judgment day in the case is fast approaching.

The management’s decision against Adeyemo was based on a petition against him by the coalition of the university’s chapters of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), which was dated May 16, 2017 and addressed to the governing council. 

Among other allegations, the registrar was accused of his inability to be flexible and take advice and irregular promotion and reduction of salary. After receiving the petition, a committee was set up by the management to look into the issues raised against Adeyemo. After the committee submitted its report, a letter from the office of the vice-chancellor with ref. FUOYE/VC/V/01/245 dated September 27, 2017, the University Governing Council asked the registrar to proceed on an indefinite leave.

Since the day the news that the registrar should proceed on indefinite leave was dropped on campus, peace has literally evaded the seven-year-old institution as management has divided over the decision. While a few management staff, who didn’t see anything good in Adeyemo because of his strictness and principled posture, believed the decision served him right, many people saw it as a hasty move to get rid of him.

To this set of people, Adeyemo is paying heavily for a collective decision of the management in order to protect the interest of some sacred cows in the institution. Besides, many individuals and associations in the institution have condemned the composition of the panel and dismissed its report as unfair to the person of Adeyemo.

But in a reply to the petition and the decision of the panel, Adeyemo had on July 11, 2017, in a letter with ref. no: FUOYE/REG/VC/170/VOL 1/146, through the VC to the pro-chancellor and chairman of council, expressed his sadness that the decision to proceed on leave was part of the fallout of council’s consideration of the report of the committee set up to look into the petition.

While assuring the council of his decision to comply with the contents of the said letter as a mark of due respect to a constituted authority, the registrar pointed out that as a principal officer in the university, and as a tradition, his deferred annual leave for the period of his tenure should accumulate towards the end of his tenure, adding that in any case, he has the prerogative to utilize all or part of the deferred annual leave only on his personal request.

According to the registrar, even though he was addressed in the presence of other members of council that council possessed some evidences against him; the evidences were not shown or read to him.

By these actions, he pointed out that he had been prejudged guilty and sentence passed on him without fair hearing, stating that the fact-finding committee set up never confronted him, interviewed or interrogated him with the evidences claimed to have been gathered to enable him affirm or deny them. “Yet, I was judged not fit to continue as Registrar.”

In a letter addressed to the chairman of the governing council, a copy of which was sent to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Adeyemo also accused the management of intentionally forcing him out of the institution in order to enable stooges of certain individuals take over the administration of the institution. He therefore appealed for the reconsideration of his matter, and that the judgement “unfairly” passed on him is reversed.

However, when the institution would not budge, Adeyemo approached the National Industrial Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State capital, to argue out his case and possibly get justice.

As things are and with many cases pending in court, concerned stakeholders are calling on the FUOYE governing council to take necessary steps to ensure that the scare resources of the university should not be wasted on crisis management and litigation. They are also calling on TETFund office to investigate all intervention grants that have now become weapon of intimidation, harassment and victimisation in the hand of some universities management (including FUOYE).