•JAMB: Action in students’ best interest
•We’ve learnt our lessons –Varsity
Following JAMB’s decision to relocate candidates earlier scheduled to take part in the ongoing UTME at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, over the disruption of its Mock test by the institution’s striking non-academic staff, candidates, parents and other stakeholders are already counting their losses
The prolonged industrial action by the non-academic staff of universities has continued to take its toll not only on the academic and administrative activities of the ivory towers, but also on their internally generated revenue sources.
Worst hit, this time, is the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, where millions of naira is being lost due to the ban placed on the institution’s computer-based test centre by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
JAMB had on Tuesday, February 27, announced the relocation of thousands of candidates who had earlier been scheduled to sit this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) at the centre, to other centres located in Ile-Ife’s adjoining cities such as Ikire, Ilesha, Osogbo and Ipetumodu.
The decision, according to the examination body, was a fallout of the disruption of the JAMB’s UTME Mock test on the campus by the striking workers, over what they described as usurpation of their responsibilities by the university management.
They also alleged the management, led by Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede of threatening to sack them if they refuse to return to work.
On Monday, February 26, the candidates for the Mock test, who were in their hundreds, were already set for the test at the university’s ICT centre, when members of the institution’s chapter of the striking unions including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), swooped on the centre and ordered everyone out of the hall.
It took the intervention of the Police Commander, Area “A” Command, Moore, Ile-Ife, Funsho Adegboye, for normalcy to return to the campus.
Adegboye, who commended the maturity exhibited by the workers since the strike began on December 4, 2017, appealed to both parties to allow peace to reign and create room for dialogue for the benefit of the students and the entire community.
Troubled by the development, the OAU Centre Coordinator, Dr. Sururah Bello, reportedly advised the candidates to return home without taking the test.
The furious Coordinator, who appealed to both the candidates and the parents to show understanding, said JAMB would soon communicate them on the next steps.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chairman of the institution’s chapter of NAAT, Comrade Adeyosoye Olusoji, who spoke on behalf of other union leaders, said they were disappointed by the conduct of the university management.
He said; “Despite the fact that the university is aware of the ongoing national strike, the management issued a release threatening us to either return to work or we get dismissed. Is it only OAU workers that are on strike?”
Olusoji also accused the management of threatening to invite the Police to arrest the workers. “This is what led to our action so that the management could act on the threatening memo that was circulated.”
But the vice-chancellor, who was not pleased with the development, said; “I was just appealing to the workers to allow the mock examination to hold since it is not only in OAU that the examination is being conducted. Also, the strike is not against the university management but the Federal Government, and the government is leaving no stone unturned to address their demands.
“But I must add that this action of the unions could have a negative impact on the university.”
And true to the vice-chancellor’s word, the university may be losing tens of millions of naira over the disruption, as the N700 per candidate that would have accrued to its purse through the conduct of the examination for thousands of candidates, will now go to the cover of other private centres.
According to the university’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, it is unfortunate that the matter was allowed to degenerate to that level, but that the university community including both the management and the workers have learnt their lessons “in a difficult manner.”
He apologised to the innocent candidates, who he said the present crop of leaders at all levels have failed, saying they would continue to work hard towards ensuring that the future generations do not suffer same fate.
He said; “It is true that the university may have lost some resources that would have helped to address some of the challenges being faced by the institution. But it is sad that innocent students are being subjected to unnecessary hardship. Unfortunately these students are victims of what they know nothing about.
“But I am sure the pains and suffering the candidates are going through would have taught everyone lessons because the children of the protesters are also affected. Some of them have been posted to Ilesha, Ikire and Osogbo. Apart from the discomfort of time and space, they cannot also enjoy the kind of facilities OAU boasts of. That is the price to pay for the unnecessary action, but we don’t want to castigate anyone.”
Also speaking on the development, the President of the National Ife Descendant Students’ Association (NIDSA), Comrade Oluwaseun Agbogunleri, said it was unfortunate that young students would be made to face the consequences of actions they knew nothing about.
“That is what we always say, when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffer. Now our students are to face the challenges of accommodation, transportation and even atmosphere in their new locations. All these can lead to emotional challenge which could affect their performance.”
But JAMB has said the decision was taken in the interest of the candidates, saying candidates can only do well in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph, the Head of Press and Public Relations Unit of JAMB, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, explained that it would not be the first time JAMB would take such action to protect the candidates’ interest, and as a damage control effort.
He said; “You could remember similar thing happened at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology last year but JAMB quickly intervened and saved the situation. We must learnt to manage crisis but wherever the situation is beyond control, JAMB would be more concerned about the safety and success of its candidates than any other interest.”
Meanwhile, as at Saturday evening, JAMB said more than 450,000 candidates have successfully sat the examinations across about 600 CBT centres nationwide.
It, however, acknowledged some hitches in some centres, but said all the issues are promptly resolved by its men, including coordinators, technical staff, proctors and independent observers.
It would be recalled that this year’s UTME commenced on Friday, March 9 and would continue till Saturday, March 17.
But New Telegraph has observed that stakeholders, and especially the supervisors and independent monitors of the examinations have defied the JAMB order on the banned items, by taking items such as mobile phones into the examination halls.
Though, there has been no incident of arrest of anyone committing this offence, pictures of examination halls with candidates sitting the examinations, have continued to emerge as against the instruction of the examination body.
JAMB had, last year, announced the ban of 16 items including wrist watches, cameras, eyeglasses, USB sticks, hard discs, books, phones, among others, from its examination halls, saying anyone caught with such outlawed items would be seen as a deliberate saboteur.
JAMB spokesman said; “So far, so good, the feedback across the country has been encouraging and we hope to continue in that manner. As at this night (Saturday), I can confirm to you that more than 450,000 candidates have successfully sat the examinations across the country. By Monday we hope to reach 800,000 figure.
“We, however, warn those going into the examination halls with the banned items, including JAMB officials, to desist from the act, as they would be treated as saboteurs.”
13 candidates jostle for Kwara college’s provost position
At least 13 candidates are pushing for the next Provost of Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin, following the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent Provost, Dr. Saka Opobiyi on April 1.
To appoint a new provost for the college, a five-member Selection Board raised by the authorities of the institution, as specified by the College Edict, last week conducted oral and written interviews for the aspirants.
With the conclusion of the interview sessions, the Governing Council is expected to announce the shortlisted candidate for the job in the next few weeks, who will succeed the outgoing provost.
It was learnt that four of the applicants are members of academic staff of the college, while the remaining nine are lecturers from other institutions.
Among those interviewed to succeed the outgoing provost in the college are the Deputy Provost (Administration), Dr. Mukaila Bola Taiwo; Dean School of Basic and Remedial Studies, Dr. Nimota Ojibara; Deans School of Science, Mr. Bolakale Adebimpe and Director, Computer Information Technology Centre (CITC), Mr. Jimoh Ahmed Ayinla.
Other candidates are from the University of Ilorin and the Kwara State University (KWASU). They are Dr. Abubakar Laaro from KWASU; the immediate past Sub-Dean at UNILORIN, Dr. Abdulkareem Yusuf, Dr. Dosumu and Dr. Abdulmalik, respectively.
Already, internal politics has set in with some members of staff expressing interest in various candidates.
For instance, New Telegraph learnt that both members of academic and non-academic staff of the institution are rooting for the current Director of CITC, Mr. Jimoh Ahmed Ayinla, one of their own to succeed the outgoing provost, based on his track records.
According to sources, Ayinla was said to have the backing of his colleagues.
Ayinla had served the college community as the Chairman of the college Loan Committee and currently the President of the college Cooperative Union. He was said to have performed excellently well in both the interview conducted by the college selection board.
Another factor that put the internal candidate in good stead is the stand of the college’s chapter of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), which the leadership position as far back as 2010, was that lecturers from the colleges should be appointed as provost.
FG pledges support for 2018 World Report
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu has promised the full participation of the Federal Government at the launch of the 2018 World Development Report (WDR18), which is focused on education.
The report, which has as its main research finding: “Schooling not the same as Learning,” is scheduled for launch by the World Bank later this year in Abuja.
The Minister disclosed this when the World Bank Executive Director overseeing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, Mrs. Bongi Kunene and her team paid him a courtesy visit.
Adamu, who expressed delighted in hosting the delegation, noted that the World Bank Yearly Report of an in-depth research work which features a topic of central importance to global development, is for the first time devoted entirely to education.
He added that the global financial institution was also the first institution to have asked for the Ministerial Action Plan Report, even while it was still in its draft form “and here again the World Development Report has come to give a further push.”
According to Kunene, the launch will feature rich discussions around the implications of the report for education quality in Nigeria and the strategies to improve it; presentation of the report with a follow-up presentation of the state of education in Nigeria.
In attendance at the meeting were the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed; Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, and the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Abdullahi Bafa.
IMT: Corruption allegations rattle institute
- Enugu House of Assembly wades into controversies
For the management and students of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, one of the foremost monotechnics in the country, this is not the best of times for the institution riddled with series of controversies.
The institution, which has produced prominent Nigerians who are shakers and movers in the public and private sectors of the nation’s economy, had in the recent past been enmeshed in one controversy or the other.
Piqued by this development, the state House of Assembly was said to have waded into the matter to rescue the institution and give it a new direction.
In a fresh controversy, the management was accused of charging compulsory hostel accommodation fee of N40,000 for new students, whether such accommodation is provided or not.
In fact, as part of the House’s oversight functions, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi, had on January 30 mandated the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Hon. Matthew Ugwueze, to investigate the various allegations levelled against the management of the state-owned monotechnic, especially the compulsory N40,000 hostel fee.
However, the six-member Committee set up by the House on February 27, to investigate the N40,000 hostel fee had since given the management, led by the Rector, Prof. Augustine Nweze a clean bill of health.
But, following the rejection of the report of the House Committee on Education, chaired by Hon. Ugwueze, for its failure to indict anyone, or the management, or the consultant handling the ICT project, the Speaker was forced to constitute an Ad-hoc Committee, headed by Hon. Chinedu Nwamba, representing Nsukka East with three weeks to look into the matter and report back to the House.
Following the crisis facing the institution, it has in the past few years failed to access the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) allocations, which led to some abandoned projects on campus for which the institution is current confronted with the challenge of acute shortage of facilities.
Part of the terms of reference of the Committee, which has as members Hon. Matthias Ekweremadu and Hon. Emeka Ogbuabor, representing Aninri and Isi-Uzo Constituencies respectively, was to probe into the activities of the consultant handling ICT project, the Blue Tag Technology, as well as the N64 million refunded and who paid what.
Meanwhile, the ad-hoc committee, which wondered why the N64 million refunded was not captured in the earlier report, however said: “We have to clear certain things in order not to mislead the public.”
Indeed, the institution had persistently come under attack over corruption allegations, resulting to invitation of the Rector and other management staff to the Enugu zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This was as stakeholders bemoaned the development and lamented that IMT once rated as the best in the country due to its high quality programmes and graduates, has deteriorated uncontrollably.
The incumbent Rector, Prof. Nweze, who took over from Prof. Mike Iloeje in June 2016, was said to have inherited various crisis ranging from high level of corruption, maladministration to allegation of sale of unapproved textbooks and handouts, leakage of examination question papers, as well as awarding of undeserved marks to students.
It was also reported that lecturers go to classes at will, while sexual harassment of female students and staff was rife in the institution.
Against this background, Nweze on assumption of office as IMT helmsman was said to have sternly warned members of staff that such misdemeanor would no longer be tolerated under his watch.
Specifically, at a retreat organised by the management in August 2017 for the staff, heads of departments/units on how to chart a new direction for the institution, the Rector informed members of staff and lecturers that the days of impunity were over, and warned that anyone caught involving in any of such infractions would be summarily dismissed from the institution and prosecuted.
In his riot acts, the Rector, however, cautioned that lecturers, who failed to turn in their students’ results on the specified time, would have their salaries withheld.
Nweze said at the retreat: “The worst crime in IMT is to leak question papers before any examination and such member of staff will be dismissed with ignominy. Going forward, any form of leakage would be frowned over. You have to submit your result sheets within one month after the semester examinations.
“We will not hesitate to withhold your salary if you do not submit your result on time. We have thus saved about N10 million through salary seizure from lecturers for not submitting their semester results on time.”
Nweze, who also warned that selling of handouts, had been outlawed in the institution, noted that a list of lecturers selling illegal handouts had already been compiled by the committee set up by his administration for that purpose.
The Rector further explained why he was so particular about stamping out corruption of any kind at IMT, for which according to him, he has become a frequent visitor to the EFCC over corruption and fraud allegedly committed in the institution.
“I have been invited by EFCC nine times,” he lamented, saying enough is enough of such nonsense.
Reeling out, what he described as code of conduct for the staff, the Rector outlawed the selling of books by lecturers directly to students, but through the school’s bookshops, and must be the textbooks approved by the school management.
However, despite the Rector’s outburst against corruption and other forms of sharp practices, the menace has not been completely stamped out from the institution as members of staff ordered to refund the monies extorted from the students were yet to refund such while the Rector seemed not to have done anything about it.
The committee raised by the Rector to investigate the sales of unapproved textbooks and other academic materials by the lecturers was said to have indicted some lecturers across all the departments.
The lecturers were said to refund about N1 million made through illegal sales of unapproved textbooks to students.
In view of this, some lecturers said to be infuriated by alleged silence of the Rector in handling the issue of corruption in the institution following his new approach to forgive all the erring lecturers, when in actual fact he fired two lecturers for allegedly leaking examination question papers.
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