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Campus: OAU Non-Academic Staff Union Clamours for a Federal Government Probe

The Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of Obafemi Awolowo University has made it clear that they want the Federal Government to probe the school’s past and current administrations, as they are sceptical of the institution’s integrity.

Last week, the association embarked on a protest to voice their displeasure at perceived injustices of the school management. The protest, which has now been quelled, was aimed at facilitating the full implementation of an agreement they reached with the school management in 2004 and to bring public attention to the injustices perpetrated by the management against staff and students of the institution.

The Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union, Mr Wole Odewunmi, revealed that despite the approval of the earned allowance by the school’s Governing Council, the agreement has not been fully implemented. He went on to state that only the parts of the agreement that concern top officials in the university are being implemented but, the parts that deal with general staff, such as the provision of Hazard allowances, have not been enacted. He also noted that the issue was raised in 2015 but this led to chaos, which resulted in the Association being sued to court.

“The body has deemed it fit to re-raise the issue as it was realised that the University employed over 140 staff in December 2018, unknown to the Federal Government, without following due process and despite the fact that salaries of new staff can only be paid after two to three months succeeding employment. The new staff salaries payment has continued unabated since December which disproves the management’s claim that there is no fund.”

“There are lots of things they have been doing which we have been enduring. But following this struggle that has been started, we’ll start inviting the press to raise other ones. Our argument is that there are enough funds to ensure the implementation of the agreement, they shouldn’t say there is no fund,” Mr Odewunmi narrated to OAU Kilonshele, a news agency on the campus.

In a conversation with Campus Reporter, the Chairman of the Association revealed that they want the Federal Government to probe the last four administrations, at the very least. These administrations are the Professor Michael Faborede-led administration, Professor Idowu Omole-led administration, Professor Anthony Elujoba-led administration (led as an acting Vice-Chancellor during a crisis before the current one was appointed) and the Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede-led administration (the current Vice-Chancellor).

“We want the Federal Government to come down and probe them. They have some skeletons in their cupboard. We are not talking about this administration, we are talking about at least, the Faborode-led administration downward. We are still expecting the Federal Government to come down here and probe them.”

You will recall that in 2017, Professor Anthony Elujoba, who led the institution as an acting Vice-Chancellor was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for his involvement in an “alleged 1.4 billion Naira fraud.” At the time, the decision was kicked against by some students and workers of the university stating that “it is the right step against the wrong man.” Professor Elujoba is widely remembered by students and workers of the university as the man who brought balance to the institution in a time of deep crisis.

In 2013, the Federal Government of Nigeria released the “Needs Assessment Fund” after a protest embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Over 5 billion Naira was allocated to this University during the Professor Idowu Omole-led administration. The funds, which were to be spent on the renovation of hostels, the building of hostels, the building of lecture theatres and other necessary additions remain unaccounted for. Although the university built a hostel in Parakin, an area outside the university campus, the school management confirmed that the hostel will be leased out to a private entity.

In a report released last year, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), revealed that there is a hotbed of corruption in Nigerian universities. Notable groups and individuals have also called for a check in the activities of Nigerian universities.

Meanwhile, the institution’s Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olanrewaju, in a conversation with this correspondent during the height of the NASU’s protest last week, downplayed the issue. “It’s an affair I would not want to discuss on the pages of the newspaper. It’s a family issue. We’ll sort it out,” he said.

The University’s current administration, led by Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, has also been widely criticised for allowing the permeation of corruption. In addition to its failure in following due process in the appointment of staff and not fulfilling the 2004 agreement, students have also been subdued and harshly punished by the management. Cases like blockage of students e-portals and the unlawful arrest of students are a few things this administration is notorious for.

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