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Stakeholders challenge OAU VC on stability, peace on campus

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…as Ooni lauds council for transparency

Almost one year after the plans of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to get a substantive Vice-Chancellor was scuttled by protracted opposition and protest against the appointment of Prof. Ayobami Salami by some sections of the workers’ unions, a new vicechancellor has appointed for the institution.

A major step to restore normalcy was unfolded last week with the appointment of a substantive Vice-Chancellor for the 55-year-old university to replace the Acting Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Anthony Elujoba, who was named the vice-chancellor in acting capacity to restore peace on campus following the protest that greeted the appointment of Salami to succeed Prof. Bamitale Omole.

With the appointment of Eyitope Ogunbodede, a Professor of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the College of Health Sciences of the university as the substantive Vice-Chancellor, the members of the university community have described the development as a new dawn for the university.

But, the stakeholders especiallythe workers’unions suchas the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non- Academic Staff Union (NASU), as well as students’ union and alumni association have challenged the new Vice-Chancellor to harmonise all factions as well as restore peace and stability to the campus.

The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of the institution, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, while announcing the new appointment, said: “At the end of the council meeting held at Senate Building. We unveiled the resolution of the council where the decision for his choice was taken.

He, however, noted that the decision on Ogunbodede’s choice had beencommunicatedtotheMinisterof Education Mallam Adamu Adamu. According to him, “Ogunmodede emerged the substantive Vice- Chancellor of the university out of 22 candidates that applied for the position”.

“No fewer than 18 of the candidates applied within the institution, while the four others were from outside the university, who were searched by the Search Committee raised by the Governing Council for the purpose,” he said.

“One candidate was disqualified because he did not meet the requirements set by the university and after interviews and series of screening exercises supervised by joint selection panel by council and university Senate, Ogunbodede emerged as winner. Meanwhile, immediately the choice of Prof. Ogunbodede was announced, the entire campus was thrown to wild jubilation by stakeholders in the university community, who hailed the appointment.

They were said to have turned the institution to a carnival like as they rolled out the drums and danced round the campus to welcome the new vice-chancellor.

However, in his brief remarks, the new Vice-Chancellor pledged total commitment to his new assignment with a view to taking the university to the next level. Ogunbodede, who is expected to formally assume office next month, said: “I pledge total commitment, determination, hard work, quick consultative decisions, discretion, impartiality and conscious enhancement of team work to move our great university forward. “I also promise to deploy efficient strategies to make OAU a worldclass university that can compete with any university in the world and henceforth this university will continue to move forward according to the university’s song which says: “forward ever, backward never.”

According to the Public Relations Officer for the university, Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, “The university now has Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, a Professor of Preventive and Community Dentistry at the university as the Vice Chancellor of the 55-yearold institution.”

However, the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) it was gathered had since accepted the development with great joy. A NASU leader, Taofeek Ayoola described the appointment as a welcome development, pointing out that Prof. Ogunbodede is a preferred candidate for the position of vicechancellor of the university.

His position was echoed by the students, who expressed optimism that with the appointment, the institution would be free from strikes and other irregularities that characterized the opposition and protest the greeted the appointment of Prof. Salami.

They said: “The entire students are happy that the emergence of a new vice-chancellor did not lead to another closure of the institution and we hope the new vice-chancellor would restore normalcy and peace to university.”

Meanwhile, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, has commended the governing council for the unbiased and transparent process adopted in selecting a new Vice-Chancellor for the institution. The monarch gave the commendation when the Council Chair (Ogunbiyi), ledthenewvice-chancelloronacourtesy visit Oba Ogunwusi in his palace. The monarch, according to the university’s spokesman, lauded the council for inviting all the eligible candidates for the interview and for using the same criteria for assessing them.

“The level-playing ground created for all the candidates was symptomatic that the council members are people of high integrity, whose wealth of experience could be used to take Obafemi Awolowo University to a higher ground,” the monarch said.

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Education

Mixed reactions trail Lagos’ Yoruba preservation law

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NUC: Law against universities admission policy

•JAMB: NCE has exclusive right on admission

•ASUU, SSANU: Better to introducing language as general study

POLICY

Stakeholders are divided over the Lagos’ Yoruba preservation law, set to deny candidates without a Credit Pass in Yoruba language, admission into the state’s higher institutions

With the new Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law promulgated by the Lagos State Government, the state may have stirred up the hornet’s nest, particularly among stakeholders in the education sector, if the reaction trailing the policy is anything to go by.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had last week promulgated the law, which seeks to make Credit Pass in Yoruba language at the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) level, one of the prerequisites for admission into any of the state’s higher institutions.

While some of the stakeholders see the law as a welcome development, but with suggested modifications, others condemned the decision in its entirety, insisting that no state government is empowered to add such conditions to admission requirements.

The agencies of government that are concerned with admission processes such as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the National Universities Commission (NUC) have described the law as misplaced priorities and illegal.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), whose members are involved in admission processes on various campuses, have also raised some fundamental issues about the new law, suggesting how best the governor’s intention could be achieved without ‘localising’ the institutions.

On Thursday, last week, Governor Ambode, flanked by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Olawale Oluwo, his Information and Strategy counterpart, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan and the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, among others, formally assented the bill into law “to provide for the preservation and promotion of the use of Yoruba Language and for connected purposes.”

By this step, Lagos became the first state to enact such law, seeking to preserve and promote its indigenous language.

There were other six bills assented by the governor on the same occasion and they included: the Amended Land Use Charge bill, School of Nursing bill, Cooperative College bill, Cancer Research Institute bill, Amended Customary Court bill and the State Electric Power Reform Bill.

On its part, the Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion law provides that all the laws in the state “will be translated into Yoruba Language and all state-owned tertiary institutions are to incorporate the use of Yoruba Language in the General Studies (GNS) courses.”

It added: “The use of Yoruba language shall be an acceptable means of communication between individuals, establishment, corporate entities and government in the state, if so desired by the concerned. It shall not be an offence for a person to speak Yoruba language by the state government.”

As a stern warning to those who may be willing to contravene the new law, the provision of Section 2 of the law states that any institution found guilty of flouting it commits an offence and is liable on first violation to issuance of warning and on subsequent violation be closed down and also pay a fine of N500,000.

According to the state government, the socio-cultural value of the Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law 2018, “has also made it mandatory for all candidates seeking admission into our tertiary institutions to secure Credit Pass in Yoruba at SCCE. Yoruba will now become a major requirement to engage in normal business communication in Lagos State.”

Adding, the state’s Commissioner for Information was quoted to have said: “This is a clear and conscious commitment to the position which Lagos State prides Yoruba language as the cultural vehicle for us to be able to articulate our position and it also shows that Lagos has further recognised the importance of language as a vehicle for development.”

With the law, Bamigbetan said anyone seeking admission into the Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos State Polytechnic, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Lagos State School of Nursing and Lagos State College of Health Technology, among others, must have Credit Pass in Yoruba language.

However, in its response to the development, NUC has described the law as illegal, saying admissions and regulations of universities’ programmes are exclusive of the National Council on Education (NCC), which comprises the Federal Government and state governments’ representatives.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph, NUC’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Mallam Ibrahim Yakassai, said NUC is not bothered on the matter, and that the ball is on the court of the candidates who may be denied admission based on the law. He said such candidates have the right to challenge such decisions in court.

Yakassai said: “Lagos State does not have such power as it concerns universities admission. All admissions to universities in this country must be through JAMB. I don’t know about other higher institutions, but as it concerns the universities, states do not have such powers.

“Education may be on concurrent list, but admission is central and exclusively for Federal Government. Universities admit but admission letters are issued by JAMB, and there are guidelines for admissions. That is why every year, the National Council on Education (NCE) meets, and this involves representatives of all the 36 states of the federation. That is where such policy decisions are made.”

Yakassai further explained that there is a window of opportunities for the universities to introduce such languages as general studies course on various campuses, and that they may compel their students to pass such course upon admission, but not as a condition for admission.

Similarly, to JAMB, such law is strange, and that rather than promoting the language, it would only end up reducing it to a local subject among its speakers.

An official of the examination body, who craved anonymity, said JAMB, would await the state or the Lagos State University (LASU) to write it before it takes any decision.

The source said: “JAMB will be waiting for communication from the state before taking any decision. But what is clear is that only National Council on Education has the exclusive mandate to determine admission requirements.”

The President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said such initiative aimed at protecting indigenous language is supported by the National Policy on Education and the constitutional provision that places education on concurrent list.

Ogunyemi, however, cautioned that it would be better if the language is introduced as a general study course in the institutions and not as requisite for admission.

He said: “It is not new for a people or country to seek to protect their languages. Some programmes in higher institutions in Finland, China, Germany and even France are taught in their languages and not English. Before you can be awarded their certificates, you would have been made to go through the languages.

“So, Yoruba Language can be brought in through that means. It is a welcome development because our languages are fast losing their pride of place.”

Also speaking, the National Public Relations Officer of SSANU, Mr. Abdulsobur Abdulsalaam, hailed the development, but also toed the line of ASUU President.

Abdulsalaam, who is on the admission team of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), said by introducing the subject as a general studies course, it would help in promoting the language, even among its non-speakers.

“We cannot close the doors completely against those who had never studied the language by introducing it as a requirement for admission. Rather, if it is introduced as a general studies course, as it is done abroad, then non-speakers of the language would be made to experience it, and by that, it would further expose it to outside world,” he advised.

Meanwhile, efforts to seek further clarifications on the law from the Special Adviser on Education to Governor Ambode, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh did not yield result, as he neither picked his call nor replied text message sent to his phone.

However, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Bamigbetan promised to give detailed information about the law and respond to the questions on the legality of the position on Monday.

The short text message sent to New Telegraph by Bamigbetan reads in part: “Please expect a robust response on Monday morning. I need to quote sections of the law.”

On his part, former Rector of the Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Mr. Olawumi Gasper, an engineer, said the policy would ridicule the “universality of the university system.”

“With this bill it means a Brazilian, Briton or German, who intends to study at undergraduate level at the Lagos State University (LASU) and to further research on his ancestry has been deprived such opportunity going by the new policy for admission,” he added.

According to him, universities have common global standards and shared values, which the bill has already defeated.

On the effect of the policy on the system, Gasper said “wherein lies the autonomy of the university,” even as he further queried whether the policy received the concurrence of the university Senate, or not.

Also, a Professor of History and International Relations at Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Osogbo, Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, described the bill as a welcome development and a right step in the right direction.

He, however, commended Lagos State Government for what he described as “a Yeoman Job,” saying the state deserves great commendation for its foresight in promoting Yoruba language.

“The Yoruba Language Bill is a right decision taken by the Lagos State Government at this crucial period when the language is almost going into extinction,” Oyeweso said, stressing that Yoruba language deserves its right place and recognition like other foreign languages in our school system.

The don, who noted that the passage of the bill epitomizes the revival of Yoruba language, recalled the important role scholars such as the late Prof. Akinwunmi Ishola and Adebayo Faleti had played in the growth and development of the language. He lamented that scholars of Yoruba Language are fast diminishing.

He, therefore, called on other states of Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun and Ogun to emulate Lagos State, even as Oyeweso said: “We don’t need America, Germany and Britain to develop our language for us.”

He praised the state lawmakers for doing “a wonderful work,” and sought the enforcement of the bill, saying any school that failed to comply with the policy should be sanctioned or have its operating licence withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the Proprietor of Rholak Group of Schools, Meiran, Lagos, Dr. Olakunle Ologun, said since education is on the concurrent list, Lagos State has the right to formulate its education policies.

Ologun, who hinted that he wondered why such policy should be condemned, lamented that already Yoruba language is going into extinction and a bold step needed to be taken to restore it.

“There is the urgent need to propagate the studying of Yoruba Language in our school and so Lagos has done the right thing. The policy statement should be enforced in order to make it work,” he added.

While insisting that the state has done nothing wrong with the policy, Ologun, however, hinted that in the South-East, Igbo language is being used as medium of instruction in most of its schools.

“Any candidate could go to federal institutions or in their states. It is a right policy and Lagos has every right to legislate on its education. The action does not preclude other states from doing similar thing to move their language and culture forward,” he argued.

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JAMB fraud: Stakeholders seek prosecution of indicted officials

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Stakeholders are worried over the level of corruption and other sharp practices uncovered in the ongoing financial audit at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), calling on the government not to sweep the reports of the probe under the carpet.

This is as the Association of Tutorial School Operators (ATSO) has described the development as a confirmation of its persistent calls for the probe of the examination body, saying the regimes of the past leaderships of the examination body were full of illegalitiesandcasesof misappropriation.

Following the cancellation of the use of scratch cards for registration purpose by the examination body, JAMB decided to audit the account of its offices across the country, by taking stock of the used cards, the unused and the money realised in the sales of the cards.

As a fallout of the audit exercise, Nigeria was recently curious by the bizarre story of an official of the examination body in Benue State, Mrs. Philomina Chieshe, who claimed snake swallowed N36 million from the vault in her office. According to her, her housemaid “connived with another JAMB staff, Joan Asen, to “spiritually” steal through a snake the money from the vault in the accounts office.

As if that was not enough, barely few days after Chieshe’s bizarre story, another State Coordinator of the Board in Nassarawa State, Labaran Tanko, said his car got burnt and in the process scratch cards worth N23 million were destroyed in the inferno.

While the dust raised by the two incidents was yet to settle, more fraud cases were uncovered in other state offices of JAMB by the management. At the Kano office, the state JAMB Coordinator, Yakubu Aliu could not account for N20 million; while Priscilla Ogunsola, the JAMB Coordinator of Edo State could not also account for N31 million.

Similarly, in Plateau State, Zakada Yakubu could not explain the disappearance of N15 million, and in Yobe State, the Coordinator of JAMB, Sanusi Atose, blamed Boko Haram attacks for his inability to account for the Board’s N613,000. Also, according to JAMB, Daniel Agbor, the Kogi State Coordinator of JAMB, could not account for N7 million, while a staff of the board in Gombe State, reported that some officials forged his signature and stole N10.283 million at the state office. Meanwhile, in the case of Ondo State, the state Coordinator, Olaolu Adeniyi, said N1.34 million disappeared whenhisaccountantwason“dialysis.

” In his reaction to the development, the National President of ATSO, Mr. Dotun Sodunke said his association had always told Nigerians that the corruption in JAMB deserved probes by the country’s anti-graft agencies. According to Sodunke, the development is a confirmation of their stance that for a long time, successive leaderships of JAMB have turned theexaminationbodytocashcow, where they allegedly perpetrate all sorts of fraud. He said; “Even now things are still not right with JAMB, the corruption has just been legalized.

This is because you cannot be charging N50 for text messages by prospective candidates when only four Naira. Meanwhile, the board has said that the reasons given by the officials for the missing monies under their care were untenable. On what JAMB plans to do to bring them to book, Oloyede said “those that we want to transfer have been transferred to the (board) headquarters until they account for the missing funds, while those whose cases are ‘beyond the board, would be handed to the police immediately for prosecution.

According to JAMB spokesman, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, “all the suspects have been suspended by the board. Based on the level of fraud, he said the board will monitor with careful scrutiny how staff entrusted with sensitive responsibilities handle government funds henceforth.

However, a former top government official, declined to comment on the matter, saying since the cases are already before EFCC and ICPC, we should allow the anti-graft agencies to do their work.

But, he insisted that the Federal Government was serious about the probe and will do everything to get to the bottom of the whole issue. Also, the former Lagos State Commissioner for Education and a Professor of Mass Communication, Idowu Sobowale, bemoaned the level of fraud in the system and JAMB particularly. “Corruption is endemic in the country, and if I may quote the President“ thatcorruptionisacanker-worm, butwemustnotallowittokillNigeria,” God will provide the grace for government to deal it the right way with without and genuineness to do so,” he said.

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UNILORIN: Obayan’s victory vindicated ASUU–Ogunyemi

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•Spokesman: Varsity ready to obey ruling

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it has been vindicated by the recent victory of the former Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Prof. Aize Obayan, at the Supreme Court against the University of Ilorin, Kwara State.

The President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph expressed regret that a university, regarded as an institution of intellectuals has been reduced to an institution known for arbitrariness and disregard for rule of law.

This is as the university has also pledged to obey the ruling as soon as it is served by the court.

The Supreme Court, last week, set aside the 1999 sack of Obayan as a lecturer and Reader in the Department of Guidance and Counselling at the University of Ilorin.

The apex court, in a unanimous judgment by a five-man panel, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, dismissed the appeal by the university, its Governing Council, Tunde Balogun (listed as the registrar) and Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem (listed as vice chancellor) for lacking in merit.

The court upheld the argument by Prof. Obayan’s lawyer, John Baiyeshea (SAN), and accepted the March 10, 2005 judgment given in her favour by the Court of Appeal and ordered that she be restored to her office and paid salaries, allowances and other entitlements from September 1999 (when she was sacked) to date.

New Telegraph learnt that Obayan, who was employed by the university as a lecturer in 1986, had applied in 1997 for sabbatical leave, which was approved by the institution’s Appointment and Promotion Committee. She then proceeded to the School of Psychology and Counselling, Rose Hampton Institute, London, for further studies.

At the expiration of her leave of absence, Obayan had reportedly requested for one-year extension and later, four-month extension of her leave, which the institution claimed to have rejected via a letter dated March 25, 1999, which she denied receiving.

On her resumption of duty on September 1, 1999, the institution fired her. But the Federal High Court, in its judgment, dismissed her case, following which she appealed to the Court of Appeal, which, in a judgment on March 10, 2005, reversed the decision and voided her sack, a decision the university, its Governing Council, Balogun and Abdulraheem appealed to the Supreme Court.

Ruling, the Supreme Court, upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, particularly its finding that the University of Ilorin failed to prove that it delivered to her its letter dated March 25, 1999, refusing her request for four month’s extension of her leave of absence.

The lead judgment written by Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs noted that the kernel of the appeal was substantially “the receipt or non-receipt of a letter said to have been written on 25/3/99 by the appellants and mailed to the respondent in her overseas address, which the respondent denied receiving.”

Reacting, Prof. Ogunyemi said the judgement is simply a confirmation of ASUU’s position on UNILORIN and called on stakeholders to call the institution’s management to order.

He said; “As I speak we are still in court against the university over the sack of the university’s chapter of ASUU chairman and secretary. Why should a university derive pleasure in killing the culture of intellectualism?

“We are all familiar with the UNILORIN 49 and even after their reinstatement, the university is yet to obey the court ruling to the letter as their promotions are yet to be effected.”

Meanwhile, the University’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Kunle Akogun, said as a law-abiding university, it would obey the ruling as soon as the judgement is served.

He said; “It is weekend but I can assure you that we will confirm if we have been served from the legal unit. As soon as we are served, we will obey the ruling and implement the content.

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