Govt: Documents handed over to governing councils
Council chair, VC: We’re yet to receive report
VISITATION PANEL REPORT
Workers in the four tertiary institutions owned by Ondo State Government are worried over nonimplementation of reports of the Visitation Panels inaugurated to look into the activities of the institutions
Stakeholders, especially workers in the four state government-owned tertiary institutions in Ondo State have urged the management of the institutions to implement the recommendations of the visitation panel inaugurated by the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu- led administration to look into the activities of the institutions.
They flayed the continued delay in the implementation of the recommendations, which have been submitted by the panel more than four months ago. The affected institutions are the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA); Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa (OSUSTECH); University of Medical Science, Ondo (UNIMED) and the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo.
The various workers’ unions in these institutions such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) among others, are worried that the recommendations which have been submitted to the governor since January, and which had since been over to the managements of the institutions, are yet to be implemented.
The state government over a month ago announced that the documents had been released to the Governing Councils of the various concerned institutions for implementation.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, who exonerated the government from the delay in implementing the panel’s report, however, told New Telegraph that the governor, after presentation of the report to the State Executive Council, had immediately transmitted same to the Governing Councils of the respective institutions on their inauguration.
“There is autonomy of the institutions and what the government did was to transmit the report to the Councils of the respective higher institutions on their inauguration for implementation.
So, it will be wrong to blame the state government or governor for the delay in implementing the report,” the Commissioner said. But, contrary to the Commissioner’s claim, workers at Adekunle Ajasin University said one month after the government announced the release of the recommendations it is yet to be handed over to the various institutions’ governing councils.
However, the sources, who preferred anonymity, recalled that on July 2, 2018, a press briefing was held shortly after the weekly state executive council meeting where the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mrs. Olawumi Ilawoye told journalists that the Council had approved the recommendations as part of the moves of the Governor Akeredolu-led administration to reposition the four institutions in the state for optimal performance.
Ilawole said the council had looked into the recommendations of the panel on compliance of the institutions, financial management and staff development programme.
She said: “A committee was set up to review the recommendations contained in the panel report. Some of the areas that the visitation panel looked at and which white paper has been drafted and approved today bothered on the state of compliance of the universities and polytechnic with the approved status and programmes and the laws that backed them up.
“This is to ensure that they properly position and they deliver quality education to the citizens of Ondo State. Also, we try to look at the financial management of the universities. We looked at subventions, and how adequate are the subventions and what the government is doing in order to improve on the income and revenue of these universities “We also looked at the adequacy of staff. We looked at staff development programmes and a lot of all these recommendations will soon be put to use.
It will be sent to the governing council of these state-owned institutions for implementation and in no short times, we are very sure, according to the vision of this administration, our four state institutions will be repositioned for optimal performance.”
Specifically, stakeholders in the state education sector seemed to be losing confidence and trust in the government over its cold feet in the handling of the recommendation of the visitation panel report for implementation.
Information has it on a good ground that the recommendations were expected to contain issues ranging from repositioning of the various institutions, maladministration of the university, financial issues as regards petitions, over bloated employment in the institutions even after the inauguration of the current administration.
Other recommendations, they believe would border on cooperative societies’ deductions, school fees, student welfare, staff issues, including illegal/unwarranted termination of appointments, withheld promotion, victimization and witch-hunting, and various matters surrounding the re-absorbed staff.
According to the workers, of great importance are subventions to the university and spending, award of contracts, inflation of contracts, financial recklessness incompetency, moral ineptitude among others.
“Unfortunately, the report which stakeholders believed would have finally been laid to rest many of the challenges bedeviling higher institutions in the state, are now being jettisoned by a government, which promised to reposition the education sector for better service delivery,” they argued.
To them, the anticipating release of the recommendations to the council chairs for implementation seems to be a bridge too far as the body language of the government appears not to look at the direction of the stakeholders in the education sector. They lamented: “As at today, recent happenings in various institutions in the state call for concerns as most workers are now living in fear of being victimized.
Many of the workers and unions that submitted papers and memoranda to the visitation panel teams are now living in fear. For instance, a senior officer in the Bursary Department at Adekunle Ajasin University, was said to have been locked out of his office as a result of the letter he was said to have submitted to the visitation panel. Another senior officer’s official car was also said to have been withdrawn for the same reasons.
“There were also numerous cases of lopsided redeployment of staff that were perceived not to be in the management’s side. The situation at the university is even pathetic as many of the workers are living from hands to mouths due to the inability of the institution to pay their salary.
More worrisome is the fact of the of the workers’ inability to cater for their families,” they added. They, therefore, appealed to the state government not to pay lips services to critical issues as demonstrated in the implementation of recommendations of the reports of the visitation panels, saying further delay of the implementation of the recommendations would make things continue to further degenerate.
Following the non-implementation of the recommendations, New Telegraph, however, learnt that one of the universities only paid the workers’ June salary last week, while the polytechnic currently owes its workers several months of salary arrears.
The Chairman, Governing Council of Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Mr. Banji Alabi, in a in a telephone conversation with New Telegraph, however, confirmed receipt of the visitation panel’s recommendations to the institution, but declined further comments on the issue.
Responding to an SMS sent to his phone, the Vice-Chancellor of Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Prof. Sunday Ogunduyile declined any knowledge of such document handed over to the institution. “Please find out from government. I don’t have any of such documents,” he simply said.
On his part, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of AAUA, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, also declined receiving any visitation panels’ recommendation to the university from the state government.
“No. I have not seen such document. But, may be it has been handed over to the Vice- Chancellor. I have not seen it. The Council will soon meet and may be by next council meeting we will know whether or not it has been given to the university. I don’t really know if the government pays adequate attention to the panels’ reports” Abayomi said.
But, a staff of the university, who did not want his name in print, confirmed that such documents because of its sensitiveness would not be handed over to the vice-chancellor, but to the governing council of respective institutions.According to the worker, non-release and non-implementation of the recommendations have continued to pose greater challenges to the running of the institutions as there is not document with which to run the university.
“Everything is at standstill as there is no working document for the management to work with. We are all looking towards the release and implementation of the recommendations. We want to know what are contained in the reports. If the Chairman of Council said he had not received the document that means it has no gotten to the university, because there is no way the government would have given such sensitive documents, which might affect the Vice- Chancellor to him,” the staff added.
The Chairman of the university’s chapter of ASUU, Dr. Fayose, in a recent interview with New Telegraph, described the governor’s delay in making the panel’s report public as a disservice to the collective development of the institutions.
“Since the report was submitted in January 26, this year, we have been awaiting the White Paper that will usher in its implementation, but this has not been done,” he said, stressing that the government has not done things properly. “It is quite unfortunate that the report has not been implemented.
This is not in the best interest of the institutions and the state in general. The essence of the exercise is to reposition the institutions, and hence the government should do the needful.” Also, the Chairman of SSANU, Famuti, who echoed the position of ASUU, wondered while government had not released the report or made it public.
“For now nothing is being heard about the report, but government should put it into law for the recommendations to be implemented. We cannot say what the reports are, until they are made public or put in public domain. But, a source also debunked the government’s position that it has handed over the reports of the panels to the Governing Councils of the various institutions for implementation, saying if that is the true position, then the various governing councils would have begun its implementation.
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