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INVESTIGATION: Many crises tearing apart Federal University Oye-Ekiti (PART II)

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IN the first part of this report, Yekeen AKINWALE who has been following the crises at Federal University Oye-Ekiti, in Ekiti State chronicled the events leading to the collapse of peaceful relations between the management of the university and leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In this second part, he examines the controversial State of FUOYE Report, the allegations and counter-allegations surrounding the report.

The ICIR reports that the contents of the report were so damning that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, queried the management of the university. The chairman of ASUU at the university, Akinyemi Omonijo, who spearheaded the writing of the report was suspended indefinitely without pay by the aggrieved university management.

While concluding the report, ASUU urged the Governing Council to take the contents, including recommendations, as a timely intervention that “could successfully chart FUOYE along the part of growth.”

However, after it was made public, the report has done more damages than good to the relationship between the university’s management and the union. The two parties are still at loggerheads.

Below is what The ICIR found in the State of FUOYE Report which the leadership of the university considered offensive as it argued that the union was only interested in damaging the reputation of the college and described the allegations as blackmail and falsehood.

Physical facilities and university’s edifice

ASUU had lamented the inadequacy of lecture theatres for students and office accommodation for academic staff at the university, citing instances where students were made to write examinations on the bare floor. It pointed out that most buildings at the university were hastily built, and now have gaping holes, leaking roofs and cracked walls.

“Lecture theatres can barely take care of even half of the entire students’ population. Many students have been seen standing during lecture hours,” the union wrote in the report prepared by its five-member Students’ Welfare Committee.

“Even, a greater number of students do usually stay outside because available lecture halls are not large enough to accommodate the growing student population. Students have often been seen writing test on bare floors in some faculties.”

Students sitting outside lecture theatre due to overpopulation

The union said further “that majority of the academic staff do not have offices; some of them have turned their cars and classrooms to offices.”

It specifically mentioned three faculties—Social Sciences, Management Sciences and Arts— that lack basic office facilities for the academic staff. “In these three faculties, no single professor has a personal office except in the Theatre Arts Department,” ASUU said in the report.

In some instances, departmental meetings are held on a corridor since there is no standard office to accommodate staff in their departments.

The academic union said it would be difficult to distinguish the university’s students from village primary school pupils because they are sometimes made to receive lectures under trees.

Students buy chemical reagents for practical

According to the report, some of the departments in the Faculty of Science lack standard laboratories and as such lecturers there are “often compelled to travel to sister universities to conduct their researches.”  It said the newly constructed laboratory has not been equipped despite a plan by the faculty to start postgraduate programmes.

The existing laboratories, it added, could not accommodate the population surge that resulted from the 2017/2018 academic session.

Overpopulation: Students wait for their turn outside one of the university’s laboratories.

“Students are now buying reagents, animals for practical and other laboratories materials despite the inclusion of these in the school fee’s schedule,” ASUU alleges, stressing that FUOYE, by implication, is also contributing to the production of unemployable engineering graduates.

Specifically, it cited a tractor donated in 2017 to the university by the Ekiti State Ministry of Agriculture which needed refurbishment but remained like a statue in the faculty.

The ICIR gathered that the tractor was made available to the department since the programme’s inception.

It said the university has graduated three sets of engineering students who were unable to do practical or lay hands on any machine. This was so because the workshops for the Faculty of Agriculture and Engineering were not completed.

“Absence of equipment and other laboratory facilities implies that the past graduates of this university have suffered a deficiency in their training,” it lamented.

ASUU wrote in the report that the TETFUND workshops intervention project for 2013/2014 was yet to be completed despite a series of promises from the contractor and the university management.

N10million sunk into FUOYE commercial farm must be investigated

For ASUU, the university’s commercial farm has been mismanaged by the administration. It said that “the commercial farm of the university is nothing to write home about” and that the facility has been poorly managed by the successive administrations and the farm officers.

“What is visible is a decrepit plantation”—it said, “despite the fact that Faculty of Agriculture presently occupies the facilities of Agricultural Development Projects.

ASUU alleged that N10million was released for the farm with a monthly imprest of N500, 000. It called for a thorough investigation into the management of the farm in order to unmask and bring charges of corruption against those behind the financial misappropriation.

Appalling campus road network

The only access road in the campus that leads to phase three of the university was in a sorry state, ASUU said in the report. It described as shameful, the inability of the university management to undertake its rehabilitation.

But it called for yet another investigation into the state of the road as it alleged that the Oye’s campus road network was awarded to a contractor who was paid but did not deliver the work.

“The road network within the campus is also appalling,” ASUU said. “It is usually dusty during the dry season and marshy to the point of being impassable during the raining season.”

This, it said, has foisted immense hardship on both staff and students, who have to negotiate their way around campus trekking, due to the absence of efficient intra-campus transportation system.

In its defence, the management of the university in a document made available to The ICIR by its Public Relations officer, Godfrey Bakji, said it is responding to the infrastructural challenges facing the university.

“Only the blind will not see the upgrading in this respect, including completed and ongoing road network, lecture halls, laboratories and their equipment, as well as the makeshift lecture rooms,” it said. “Most of these are being done with internally generated revenues.”

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Purchase of buildings outside university’s campuses by management

The union and the university’s management are at variance over the need to purchase buildings outside the two campuses of the institution for the use of its principal officers. The academic union said the purchase of buildings outside the campuses as recognised by the Federal Government was unacceptable and a waste of scarce resources.

According to the report, the administration wilfully abandoned the building occupied by the former Vice-Chancellor, Isaac Azuzu, when he left the office in 2016 and bought another building at Ado-Ekiti as a new Vice-Chancellor’s Lodge.

It said all principal officers of the university currently live outside the campus of Oye and Ikole. But the Union urged the management to concentrate development within the two campuses and not in locations outside it. It particularly suggested that the university’s principal officers’ lodges should be constructed inside its  campuses.

Compromised Admission process

ASUU also called for immediate dissolution and investigation of the university’s admission committee due to how the 2017/2018 admission exercise was compromised.

It alleged that the admission exercise for the undergraduate students was nothing but a mockery, describing it as ill-fated because the established lines of processing were ignored.

“As it has become customary in FUOYE, this established due process routes were subverted, thus creating chances for opportunists and racketeers to hijack admission process,” it said.

Arbitrary recruitment, appointment and promotion

One other issue raised in the report by ASUU is what it called arbitrary recruitment, appointment and promotion of staff. It alleged that staff are being arbitrarily recruited without any regard for due process.

“In fact, the norm is for new lecturers to show up at different departments with appointment letters without a mandatory, university-wide advertisement and corresponding departmental/ faculty’s appointment and promotion committee’s input and interview,” it said.

While noting that heads of departments and deans are more often than not carried along in the recruitment exercise, ASUU said staff members with wrong discipline or irrelevant qualifications are foisted on the respective departments. It added that the management as at 2016 to date had been recruiting people through the back doors without following due process.

It cited the case of a professor and an associate professor who it said were recently appointed into the university without a relevant department or faculty Appointment and Promotion Committee’s input.

Similarly, on promotion, ASUU said it noticed instances of promotion without due process to the detriment of members of staff who have put in genuine efforts.

It cited, “for instance, one of the candidates announced at the last university’s Council A&PC as Associate Professor assumed duty at FUOYE on September 14, 2017 as a Senior Lecturer (contrary to the Dean’s recommendation for the position of Lecturer 1, since he is coming from the College of Education as a Chief Lecturer) and was promoted to the position of an Associate Professor without mandatory required length of service of three years in the university, and without a prior mandatory departmental or faculty’s A&PC’s assessment’s report,” it said.

“Furthermore, his ludicrous Associate Professorship has been backdated to 1st October 2017 without due regard to the FUOYE’s conditions of service section 3.3.”

The union called for an immediate review and reversal of all appointments and promotions that did not follow due process according to the university’s conditions of service.

Then, it asked the Governing Council to conduct proper staff verification in order to avert a repeat of what happened at the Michael Okpara Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike where 28 professors were demoted after a verification exercise in March 2018.

“The union strongly believes that proper staff verification will help in halting the influx of fake and non-assessed professors (as many of such are already working in FUOYE presently).

In this case, the union is particularly aggrieved about the appointments of the duo of Tajudeen Bolanle Opoola of the Department of Languages and Linguistics and current Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Abayomi Sunday Fasina.

Opoola, the union contended, was promoted to the position of Associate Professor within one week after he resumed office without following due process as contained in the conditions of service of the university.

Before he joined the university,Opoola was the Deputy Provost of Federal College of Education (Special) Oyo.

“He was initially employed as Associate Professor (Reader) without due process as contained in the conditions of service of FUOYE but he quickly resigned because of protest,” it said.

The ICIR’s investigations revealed that Opoola did resign his initial appointment in a letter dated July 30, 2017, addressed to the Registrar of the university.

He cited a ‘troubling family’ factor in the letter as the reason he could not continue with the appointment which he resumed on July 1, 2017.

Two months later, Opoola reapplied for the same job at the same university, though the Acting Dean of Faculty of Arts then, Niyi Akingbe, had in a letter dated September 6, 2017, addressed to the Vice-Chancellor questioned his first appointment as Associate Professor.

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Akingbe argued in the letter, a copy of which was sighted by The ICIR, that the appointment was hastily done and devoid of the required Faculty of Arts’ mandatory prima facie assessment process.

Akingbe in concluding the letter stated that a Chief Lecturer at the Polytechnic or College of Education like Opoola seeking appointment into the university is usually appointed as Lecturer 1. He recommended to the Vice-Chancellor that the former Deputy Provost of the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo be appointed as a Lecturer 1 if the management still deemed it necessary to offer him employment in the Department of Languages and Linguistics.

“He re-applied again but was recommended for Lecturer 1 but appointed as Senior Lecturer by the University Management on 29/09/2017 contrary to the dean’s recommendation,” the union lamented.

“He was promoted to the position of Associate Professor (Reader) within one week without the mandatory length of service of three years and without prior mandatory Departmental / Faculty’s A and PC’s Assessment report.”

The ICIR cited his re-appointment letter dated September 29, 2017, where he was appointed as Senior Lecturer— ASUU said his “Readership was backdated to 01/10/2017 without due regard to the conditions of service.”

This was actually contained in a letter of promotion addressed to Opoola by the management of the university.

Opoola’s letter of promotion to Reader.

“I have the pleasure in informing you that the University Governing Council at its 12th Statutory Meeting held on Thursday, 10th May 2018 approved that you be promoted to Reader in the Department of Linguistics and Languages of the University on salary of (N3, 779,021.00) per annum, that is CONUASS 06 Step 01 with effect from 1st October 2017,” Oyeyimika Koyejo-Fasakin, Acting Registrar and Secretary to the Council wrote in the letter.

Godfrey Bakji, spokesperson of the university told The ICIR that he needed to get approval from his principal before he could comment on this issue. Two reminders sent to him were not replied as at the time of filing this report.

Just like the case of Opoola, ASUU is also not happy about the appointment of a professor— Abayomi Sunday Fasina— who joined the university from Ekiti State University.  The academic union believed that Fasina, formerly a lecturer at the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences at Ekiti State University, was recruited fraudulently into the university.

Fasina, alleged by ASUU to have received double salaries from two universities.

“Professor Fasina came to the university in the year 2015 as a sabbatical staff from Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti and became a tenured staff without returning to his previous university before he became a tenured staff of FUOYE in the year 2017,” the union said.

To the union, Fasina’s appointment was an example of employment racketeering going on unchecked in the university because as it said that “ the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Kayode Soremekun nominated him to be the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the university in the same year 2017 that he converted to tenure staff.”

His appointment was despite a recommendation contained in the decision extract of the Faculty of Agriculture Appointments and Promotions Committee (FAAG A and PC) dated March 23, 2017, obtained by The ICIR.

The FAAG Committee recommended that the applicant (Fasina) must re-prepare his CV to include a list of publishers against his publications in chronological order and that his application should not have been submitted as an internal memorandum.

“He ought to apply from Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti where he is a confirmed Professor,” the committee said in the document.

The Faculty of Agriculture Appointments and Promotions Committee found him (Fasina) appointable subject to interview to clarify issues related to publications vis a viz FUOYE Guidelines for Appointments and Promotions.  But the recommendations, it was gathered, were not followed in appointing him, which makes the academic Union consider his appointment as irregular.

“It is important to let you know that university management did not ask him to comply with both the observations and recommendations of FAAG before he was appointed as Professor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University,” ASUU said.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor was also alleged to have collected double salaries from both the Federal University and Ekiti State University.  This was between October 2016 and February 2017 when he submitted a letter of resumption of duty back to the Ekiti State University in September 2016.

Investigations by The ICIR, however, revealed that Fasina received salaries as a lecturer at Ekiti State University and Federal University Oye Ekiti between October 2016 and February 2017.  After the expiration of his sabbatical leave at FUOYE, he had received a salary to the tune of N2, 916,840.32 from the university.

Fasina’s payslip for the month of October 2016, after he had completed his sabbatical leave at Federal University Oye Ekiti

He had applied for a 189-day leave to complete his students’ project supervision and other duties he was saddled with on sabbatical appointment at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti.

The leave was scheduled to commence on January 2, 2016, and end on September 22, 2016.

As expected, Fasina was acknowledged by the management of Ekiti State University on December 21, 2016, to have completed his sabbatical at FUOYE and had resumed work on September 23, 2016.

“I write to inform you that Prof. A.S Fasina of the Department of Crop, Soil and Management, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, who was granted the permission to proceed on Sabbatical Appointment at Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, with effect from 2nd January 2015, has resumed duty on 23rd September, 2016,” reads an internal memo confirming his return to the university.

After his resumption at the State University, Fasina applied for a 56-working day leave on September 27, 2017. But the management in response to his request in a memo dated October 7, 2016, granted only 30 work days annual leave for the 2015/2016 academic session as against 56 days he requested for.

Fasina’s pay slip in January 2017 from Federal University Oye-Ekiti after he had completed his sabbatical leave

However, in another memo dated January 19, 2018, signed by one S.O Ajayi, an Administrative Officer 11, on behalf of the Deputy Registrar (Establishment and Academic), the university authorities directed that his salary be stopped immediately. The memo was titled “Stoppage of Salary.”

This came about five months after Fasina had written to the Vice Chancellor of EKSU applying for ‘Transfer of Service from Ekiti State University to Federal University, Oye-Ekiti.

His letter to the VC was dated August 21, 2017. In the letter which he personally signed, Fasina noted that the transfer of service to the Federal University would take effect from September 1, 2017.

Investigations revealed that while he had returned to EKSU at the end of his sabbatical leave, payment of his salary by FOUYE management as a professor on sabbatical leave continued from October 2016 to February 2017 on CONUASS7/10. His pay slip from the month of September 2016 to February 2017 sighted by The ICIR showed his designation as a professor (sabbatical).

This infraction for which nothing has been done is similar to why a senior lecturer in the Department of Physical Sciences at Redeemer’s University, John Falade Alaba, was dismissed by the management of the university on August 20, 2018.

A letter of his dismissal was published in the January 14, 2019 edition of the weekly bulletin of the National Universities Commission (NUC). Falade was relieved of his appointment at the University after it was established that he was on full employment in Redeemer’s University and also on full-time employment at the University of Ilorin, and on sabbatical leave at Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State.

The management said the act was contrary to the regulations governing the appointment of staff in the university.

A former colleague of Fasina at the Department of Crop, Soil and Management, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences in Ekiti State University who pleaded not to be named because he was not in the position to speak to the press said he was aware that the professor was at FUOYE on sabbatical leave at some time.

He told The ICIR that truly, Fasina’s salary was stopped by the management of the university, but he didn’t know the reason behind it.

“Yes, he went to FUOYE on sabbatical leave but he has since transferred his service to the place,” he said.

“We are in the same department, and I would say I knew when the management stopped his salary but what I don’t know is why his salary was stopped.”

“He did first sabbatical leave at FUOYE on 02/01/2015 to 31/12/2015. He used his accumulated leave at EKSU for the second sabbatical leave at FUOYE on 04/01/2016 to 22/09/2016,” a member of ASUU who did not want to be named said.

“He wrote a letter of resumption to EKSU on 23/09/2016 to deceive EKSU. He continued to receive two salaries in two different places at the same time, that is, FUOYE and EKSU from October 2016 to February 2017.”

“In February 2017, he collected over one million naira as salary in FUOYE as against the normal salary of full-time Professor which is over Five Hundred Thousand Naira. All these you can cross check in the report of Integrity and Transparent Watch.”

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request sent by The ICIR to the office of the Vice Chancellor of Ekiti State University, dated February 6, 2019, was not responded to more than two months after. The FOI requested for the pay slips of Professor Oluwarotimi Fasina Sunday, from January 2015 to December 2015, his pay slips from January 2014 to September 2016, his pay slips from October 2016 to December 2017 and the approval by the management of EKSU for his request to transfer his service to FUOYE.

When asked to respond to these allegations, Bakji described them as total falsehood. “This is totally false,” he wrote in an SMS sent to The ICIR, “But whoever gave you the information should equally avail you the evidence,” he added.

He never provided information beyond this terse response.

Despite his controversial appointment into the university, Fasina heads five critical committees — he is the  Chairman, TETFund Committee,  Chairman Disciplinary Committee, Chairman Security Committee,  Chairman Ceremonial Committee and  Chairman Admission Committee.

In his defence, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor denied receiving double salaries. ” That is not possible,” he told The ICIR in an interview,” I didn’t receive a double salary,” he retorted.

Rather, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor said he was appointed at FUOYE as a visiting lecturer on half salary between October 2016 and August 2017. “Visiting appointment is not a salaried appointment,” Fasina said.

“If you look at the letter of appointment, what they paid me is not even up to half of the full salary. It’s like a part-time job which is allowed; it’s not a tenured or a permanent job.”

Fasina said he was not aware that the management of EKSU wrote to stop his salary. “I’m not aware of that because as at that time, I had already left EKSU.”

On his pay slip from FUOYE which showed he collected a salary from October 2016 to February as a sabbatical lecturer while in reality, he had concluded his sabbatical, he said, “I didn’t know where you got the payslip.” “That’s not true.”

“I used my accumulated leave which was approved by my university where I was then. And I have letters to the effect of that.

“So it was accumulated leave which was approved by my former university, and FOUYE also gave me a letter to use that leave which is allowed in any other university.

“I could have as well used my accumulated leave elsewhere.  I had a lot of work to do, uncompleted work in FUOYE and that’s why I decided to stay at FUOYE and finish the work in FUOYE.”

When asked about when the accumulated leave started and ended, he retorted, “The sabbatical leave was granted me in 2015.”

“I started in January ended in December which is normal with Sabbatical leave. I also wrote to my institution, EKSU to use my differed leave and I was given an approval letter to use my differed leave from January to September 2016. I finished that and after which I started a visiting appointment which is not a tenure appointment.

“I have the letter to that effect. It was dated 10th October 2016. Visiting appointment is not a salaried appointment.”

The Professor insisted throughout his interview with The ICIR that he has all the documents to back his claims, he, however, declined to show them or allow this reporter to have copies noting that they are official and confidential documents belonging to him and the university, and that cannot be in the public domain.

“They wrote it in that State of FUOYE report that I didn’t resume before taking up FUOYE appointment. It’s not true,” he said.

“I have my letter of appointment dated back September 2016. Immediately I finished I applied for visiting appointment at FUOYE and I was granted.”

“Once I started that one, in the process of that, my appointment was regularised. I did an interview and my appointment was regularised and it followed due process.

“Because when I applied to them the faculty Agriculture in FUOYE assessed and wrote to the VC and they also mentioned in the State of FUOYE  Report where they wrote that the man is found appointable but he must be interviewed and I was also interviewed. I was given a letter of appointment, and Federal Character was represented.”

However, as the ‘battle’ between the management of FUOYE and the university’s ASUU continues, the students appear to be victims worse hit.  And it is unlikely a rescue will come anytime soon.

This investigation is supported with funding from the Ford Foundation.

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