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ASUU chair, colleagues squabble over FUOYE VC

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Federal University, Oye Ekiti


A leadership crisis at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) has pitted the Chairman of the institution’s Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Akinyemi Omonijo against his colleagues.The lecturers are taking sides with the Vice Chancellor, Prof Kayode Soremekun, whom they claim Omonijo is bent on discrediting for self-serving reasons, despite his high-level performance.

Among allegations leveled against the chairman were that he neither sought nor obtained authorisation of FUOYE-ASUU Congress before addressing a press conference on happenings in the school, and that he disobeyed the congress’ directive, which mandated him to exhaust all internal peace measures before taking out matters concerning the institution.

The lecturers also accused Omonijo of failing to say he misinformed the public about the true situation of events at FUOYE during the press conference, and that he is opposed to the rapid infrastructural development and academic expansion being pursued by the Vice Chancellor.The Guardian’s investigation showed that Professor Shola Omotola, Dean, Faculty of Social Science was at the meeting, where Omonijo was allegedly ordered to stay action on the planned press conference.

He said: “At the meeting, it was agreed that all avenues, including taking their protest to the Council Chairman, should be exhausted, and that it is only when these didn’t yield the desired result they should come back for approval to go to press. They also said they would return to report whatever transpired in the process of seeking internal resolutions. But they never came back. The next thing we saw was the press conference. I can authoritatively say only two other exco members were aware that they were going to do a press conference. And even those two people told me in confidence that they never saw the content of what was being taken for press briefing.

“Even the local ASUU Secretary, Dr. Ademola Akinsorantan was not aware that a press briefing was to be held. It was on the basis of that that the sidelined EXCO decided to do a parallel conference to tell the whole world they were not part of the press conference undertaken by Dr. Omonijo.

But the accused has denied the allegations leveled against him. In his response via a mail, Omonijo denied addressing any press conference as Chairperson, ASUU-FUOYE. “The press conference was addressed by the ASUU Akure zone on the directive of ASUU national body. However, the accusation that a press conference was held on some matters concerning the university without authorisation of the congress was not correct.

“It is important to mention that the issue of press conference was discussed extensively at the congress of ASUU-FUOYE, held at the Ikole campus of the university on July 17, 2018. At this meeting, the congress resolved through a majority vote, that the leadership of ASUU-FUOYE should request permission from ASUU National body to address a press conference in conjunction with the zone on the state of FUOYE. The resolution of the congress on this matter was signed by me and Acting Secretary of the branch, Dr. Ademola Akinsorotan.”

According to Omotola: “Another issue the chairman raised was the fact that the vice chancellor was expanding at a pace he feels is too fast, that infrastructure are being built without much attention paid to constructing offices for lecturers. Let me put it on record: when the new management came on board, there were only four faculties on ground, but today, these have been increased to eight. So, for Dr. Omonijo, growth is a crime. In 2016, when I joined the university, the vice chancellor established 19 new departments, one of which was political science, which enabled me to move over here.”
 
But is this to say Omonijo’s claim on shortage of offices for lecturers was baseless?
Omotola replied that things are not really as bad as was being portrayed. “At the back of my faculty building, there is what we call makeshift faculty lecture rooms,” he explained.

“When we observed such shortages in lecture rooms, some of us approached the university management and recommended the need to make those make-shift offices, and management graciously accepted. From internally generated revenue, we were able to build some of the infrastructure, and if you go round again, you will see that there are so many of them and other projects that are still on-going. In fact, we have a record of 27 concrete projects this management has executed within the space of two years.”On their parts, FUOYE’s Chairman of Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU), Dada Adebayo and the institution’s Students’ Union (FUOYESUG), condemned the ASUU chairman’s stand.
 
Speaking on behalf of the students, FUOYESUG’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Boluwaji Adeyemo lauded what he described as “Prof Soremekun administration’s infrastructural development, which in FUOYE’s history, is the fastest.”

 
The immediate past chairman of FUOYE ASUU, Dr. Dosu Maloma and Ayodeji Ige, who is CNUA’s promoter in FUOYE, joined other respondents to praise Soremekun, even as he said kudos should be given to the VC for not diverting or embezzling funds approved for the institution’s development. Ige commended the VC for channeling all funds into the school’s growth and transformation.
 
The NASU chairman said: “As labour leaders, we are not used to praise-singing chief executives, but I want to make an exemption to say this administration is performing very well. Of course, there is room for improvement. “I must say with appreciation that the expansion of academic programme is commendable, especially as a result of the huge employment it keeps generating and the followup infrastructural needs and development. The VC has completed most of the uncompleted facilities he met upon assumption of office. For example, the central administrative building has been completed and handed over.
 
“Also, the engineering workshop at Ikole Ekiti Campus and the 500-capacity lecture theatre at Oye Ekiti Campus have been completed. The three-in-one science laboratory, which will be the starting point for our prospective faculty of pharmacy, is also completed. Equally, the main library is completed and almost ready for occupation. He has also built a 500- capacity lecture theatre for the faculty of science.

“The most fascinating aspect is that the significant parts of these structures and facilities were undertaken on the platform of our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).‘When the VC resumed in 2016, the two campuses were operating 24 hours on generator. But presently, the university is connected to the national grid. This development has significantly reduced the huge sum expended on diesel. In the area of Internet, before he came, the school didn’t have its own portal. We depended on a first generation university’s portal, but now, there is FUOYE Portal.
 
“He has built a multi-million naira sports complex at Oye Ekiti Campus, as well as brought banks to the campuses to ease students and staff’s financial transactions.”Apparently demonstrating that Soremekun deserved a pat on the back and encouragement, all the students under the aegis of FUOYESUG, recently organised a ceremony, where the VC was given a commendation award for infrastructural development and expansion of academic programmes.

While presenting the award, FUOYESUG Vice President, Bisiriyu Ayomide noted that Soremekun, within two years of leading the university, had increased the faculties from four to eight, with the introduction of new courses.
 
And in a move to disown the ASUU chairman and his actions, the lecturers, during a recent Congress, have allegedly commenced his impeachment process.They also vowed to pull out of ASUU, to join the newly formed CNUA, should anything be done either by the zonal or national ASUU to prevent them from removing Omonijo.

In his defence, Omonijo described as incorrect, the allegation that he is at loggerheads with the VC, noting that there is a cordial relationship between them. “In a simple statement, our relationship is like that of father and son. As a matter of fact, I address him as “Comrade VC” and he too addresses me as “Comrade and Aburo” and sometimes he calls me by my first name, which I am well pleased with.

“This claim is a serious concern to me. Permit me to ask this question; are these people that contacted you saying the presentation of branch demands agreed on at the congress to the university administration is personal or what? It is important to mention at this point that the issue of union is not personal; rather it is a collective responsibility of every member of the union. However, I can’t say maybe the vice chancellor has something negative against me or is at loggerhead with me because of my position as Chairperson, ASUU-FUOYE, but if those people that contacted you have privileged information about this, they should provide the information to the general public.”

He however, confirmed an attempt by a group of people in the branch to commence an impeachment procedure against him at a congress of ASUU-FUOYE held on November 16, 2018, which he said was meant, for the declaration of national strike by the union. “Based on ASUU principle, other agendas are not acceptable during/within the period of such actions. On this particular day, I was on assignment to Lagos on the directive of the comrade president of the union and because of this engagement I was not available to preside over the congress, which made the Acting Secretary of the branch, Dr. Ademola Akinsorotan to preside over the congress in the absence of the chairperson and vice chairperson.

“However, the letter dated November 9, 2018 with respect to the commencement of an impeachment process against the chairperson of the branch, which was signed only by four members was presented by the branch Chairperson through the zonal coordinator to the President of ASUU on November 14, 2018. The zonal coordinator and president have already responded to the above-mentioned letter,” he said.


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Akinyemi OmonijoASUUFUOYE
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