Why NOUN expelled two students , by Tenebe
Vice Chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Vincent Ado Tenebe, says two students of the institution recently expelled suffered that fate for allegedly bringing opprobrium to the institution, by externalising issues, without exhausting all the internal mechanisms available for conflict resolution and problem solving in the university.
He has also explained that because of the diverse pedigree of students of the institution, they have no interest in student unionism and will not like to be dragged into the exuberance and excesses of younger students, who may be inclined to replicate the culture of student unionism, in conventional universities, in NOUN.
Tenebe made the clarification in a statement he endorsed in reaction to a newspaper publication. The statement was titled, “Re: Expulsion of Students Stirs Hornets’ Nest At Noun: A Rejoinder.”
Shedding light on the expulsion of Messrs Hamza Abdulrazak Oyebanji and Elias Ozikpu, Tenebe said they “were expelled from the university for exhibiting obnoxious behaviour and acts capable of bringing the university into disrepute, after the disciplinary process was completed. Their expulsion has, since been ratified by the university’s governing council.”
The school’s helmsman said, “Contrary to the claim in the media, by the expelled students, they were not expelled for agitating for student unionism to be allowed in the National Open University of Nigeria. Interestingly, there is no single evidence that they made such a request to their study centre directors, deans or the vice chancellor. Rather, these two students embarked on a media campaign in the social and local media in which wild accusations, lies and distortion of facts about the university were freely peddled. The whole purpose was to mobilise other students, the general public and, even, and the government against the university.
Tenebe, who claimed that what they (the twosome) did is within the ambit of one of the most grievous offences any student or staff can commit– that of bringing the university into disrepute, added that, “There is also the offence of externalising issues without exhausting all the internal mechanisms available for conflict resolution and problem solving in the university.
Neither the dean of their school, nor the vice chancellor was aware of their complaints until they started appearing in the social and local media. Their complaints have not, till today, been brought forward for the consideration of the Governing Council of the National Open University of Nigeria.
It appears that the students were not interested in conflict resolution, but rather in drawing attention to themselves as champions of civil rights at the expense of the hard-earned reputation of this fledging university. The two students were expelled for acts unbecoming of bona fide students of NOUN and for publishing materials that are clearly designed to bring NOUN into disrepute,” he stated.
On the school’s stance regarding student unionism, he explained that, “NOUN was established to provide tertiary education for millions of Nigerians who desire it, but have no access to conventional universities by virtue of their employment, vocation, business or eligibility. NOUN is an Open Distance Learning (ODL) institution with a central administration and 70 study centres, in all states of the federation.
Besides, most of our students are mature people who are generally employed or engaged in one business or the other. It is noteworthy that among our students are traditional rulers (one of whom is a chancellor of another university), military generals (including a former president of Nigeria), senior civil servants, captains of industry and prominent businessmen and women.
They have no interest in student unionism and will not like to be dragged into the exuberance and excesses of younger students, who may be inclined to replicate the culture of student unionism, in conventional universities, in NOUN. We have an obligation to protect these mature students, who constitute the bulk of our constituency, from the dangers of student unionism.”
He added that, “Also significant is the fact that NOUN students are spread all over the country. It is simply impracticable for any meaningful unionism to take place. The most likely scenario is that a few militant students, in one corner of the country, will assume the mandate to speak for thousands of students they have never met or likely to meet.
This could pose serious consequences for the security of the country and the image/integrity/existence of NOUN, in the unlikely event that our students are called out on a protest or strike action, simultaneously, across the country. NOUN has many avenues, through which students can channel their challenges, suggestions and grievances.
“Each study centre has counsellors who are available every working hour. There is also provision for NOUN Students’ forum, study groups and facilitation arrangements in every study centre. These are platforms for articulating suggestions and grievances. Students can also communicate with their Deans, through their study centre directors and, even, the vice chancellor, through their deans.”
Regarding examination in NOUN, the professor of agronomy said, “Examinations in NOUN are administered in a manner consistent with the best practices known to the ODL mode in the world. All necessary measures are taken to protect the confidentiality of examination questions and the integrity of the various stages in the examination chain. NOUN operates two examination systems: e-examination for students in years one to two, the pen-on-paper for students in year three and four/five.
E-exams papers are administered and marked electronically and spontaneously, which leaves absolutely no room for manipulations or malpractices. As for the pen-on-paper examinations, we have continued to identify the problems and loopholes.
Having done a comprehensive review of the challenges in this type of examination –the most significant of which are the issues of missing results, occasional cases of scripts lost in transit and rare incidents of tampering by lecturers for sexual/financial gratification – the university adopted the conference marking option in 2014. It proved to be very successful, as it appears that all the weaknesses of the old system have been eliminated. The 2015 conference marking exercise was rounded up on November 30th, 2015. It is our hope that the success of the 2014 exercise will be repeated, if not surpassed.”
In reaction to allegation of a regime of illegal fees and charges, the former Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University teacher said, “all authorised fees, charged by the University, are available on the university website, newspapers, information bulletins and notice boards, at all study centres. The regime of fees was recently published in national newspapers including The Guardian of Monday, 23rdNovember 2015. All fees are expected to be paid into authorised university accounts, which are available on the students’ portals.
No study centre director has authority to levy students or run any parallel accounts to that of the University.
“The management frowns seriously, at any attempt by any study centre director to flout the directive on this matter. In the recent past, the university advertised all legal fees payable by students. If any student knows of any study centre director charging unauthorised fees, the university will be most happy to receive such information, in confidence, and deal with the situation with the seriousness it deserves. The management of NOUN will not spare any such director.”
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