FCE Akoka Provost Seeks Government Protection Amid Tenure Extension Crisis

Funmi Ogundare

The Provost of Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos, Dr. Wahab Azeez, has called for the intervention of government and security forces in the ongoing harassment of protesting college workers, who were said to be aggrieved by his alleged tenure extension.

He alleged that union leaders, including Augustine Nwachukwu and Kazeem Qadri, the Chairman and Secretary of the Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education (SSUCOEN), have threatened him and his family, locked his office, and issued a quit notice for his campus residence.

Azeez explained that the unionists’ actions, which claimed that his tenure as provost had ended despite a government letter confirming otherwise, have persisted since May.

Speaking to journalists virtually, Azeez, who was reappointed in January 2023 for another four-year term, addressed the disputes surrounding his tenure and other issues raised by the protesters.

He noted that Nwachukwu and Qadri have led continuous daily protests for over four weeks and recently threatened to evict him from his official residence within seven days.

According to Azeez, the protesters have not only barred him from accessing his office but also organised ‘illegal congresses’ and staged impeachments against other union leaders opposing them.

Azeez criticised the protesters’ tactics, which included mobilising random students and impeaching the students’ union president for not joining their protest.

He stated, “They threatened an impeachment process against NASU leadership for following the minister’s directive. If this isn’t an abuse, then what is it?”

He refuted accusations of being dictatorial, emphasising that none of the protesters had been sanctioned despite their actions.

He added, “A few individuals cannot take laws into their hands.”Azeez questioned the protesters’ authority to issue a quit notice for his official residence, which is one of his many infrastructural projects on campus.

The provost filed a petition against the protesters with the police command in Lagos.

To resolve the conflict, the Federal Ministry of Education recently dispatched a delegation led by Uchenna Uba, Director of the Colleges of Education Department, to meet with the disputing parties. However, no resolution has been reached so far. The ministry has invited the factions to a meeting in Abuja this week.

The President of SSUCOEN, Augustine Nwachukwu, refuted the claim that the union harassed the provost while Qadri explained that the current impasse between his union and others (COEASU, NASU and NAAT) and the provost began on May 27 after he refused to vacate office after completing five years, having been appointed on May 26, 2019, in line with the Federal Colleges of Education ACT, 2023 signed into law by President Bola Tinubu on June 12, 2023 (repealing the former Act of 2004).

He stated that this had led to peaceful protests by college staff, cutting across all unions, including contract staff.

“This struggle started way back when my union and NASU (Joint Action Committee) wrote a joint letter to the Ministry on December 4, 2023,” he stated. “With no reply in sight, a reminder was forwarded on April 8, 2024, while another was sent to the Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.”

He said the COS had directed the ministry to act as appropriate, adding that this birthed two replies from the ministry: the first applauding the union for steps taken thus far, while the second came on May 24, 2024 (48 hours), to the expiration of Azeez’s tenure.

The secretary alleged that apart from the provost’s continued illegal stay in office which is been abetted by the Federal Ministry of Education via a phony letter by the Director of Legal Services of the Ministry Mrs. E. B Azorbo saying that it is clearly at variance with the Act.

He added that Azeez’s tenure had been characterised by intimidation, assault, destruction of government facilities, usurpation of duties of other principal officers, financial misappropriation, abusive and dictatorial, exploitation of students via phoney schemes, hostile relationship with the host community, threat, among others.

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