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Campaign of lies in OAU

Written by Dr Rotimi Okowa

One recurring decimal in the ongoing crisis at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is the carefully packaged misinformation that the leaderships of the Non-Academic Staff of University (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), OAU subdivision, is assaulting and insulting the university community and the Nigerian public with. Erroneously thinking that their persistence with untruth will be taken as unassailable fact, the unions and their backers continue to foul the public space with disinformation.

The latest episode in that drama is the one staged at Osogbo on Monday by Prof. Akinola Adegbola Peter of the Department of Mathematics of OAU. At that totally gratuitous press conference, Prof. Adegbola claimed that lecturers in the university want the Visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari, to appoint an Acting Vice-Chancellor for the university. This don certainly has not, or has wrongly, read the provisions of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions)(Amendment) Act 2003, otherwise called the Universities Autonomy Act No. 1, 2007 and the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2012. Had he read and understood those instruments, it would have been clear to him that the Visitor cannot appoint an Acting Vice-Chancellor at any time, much less when a substantive one is in place.

It is laughable and ridiculous to read the Professor asking the Visitor to deliberately violate the law and undo the result of ASUU’s many years of strenuous campaign for university autonomy in the name of finding solution to a matter that is very simple. To be sure, the members of OAU ASUU are united in their position that only their congress can take decisions on any issue. Whatever is done outside of this organ is entirely the action of the individuals concerned and not ASUU’s.

In that connection, Prof. Adegbola’s statement is not only self-serving but irrefutably anti-ASUU. His action negates the united position of ASUU.

For the avoidance of any dubitation, the position of the OAU ASUU Congress is that the Visitor should constitute an investigative panel to examine the process that produced Prof. Ayobami Salami as the Vice-Chancellor. The resolution of the Congress of Thursday June 30 shows clearly that ASUU’s Congress did not ask for an Acting Vice-Chancellor, for that would amount to destroying its own gains. And this conforms with the view of many lecturers on why the dissolution of the Governing Council by the Visitor is unlawful and indecent given that there is no investigation that reveals that that body is corrupt and abused its powers in the process that produced Prof. Salami as incorrectly whooped by SSANU and NASU chairmen.

The point must be noted that SSANU’s and NASU’s grouse remains unpaid allowances which they claim Prof. Omole’s administration did not pay them. Their unfounded paranoia is that Prof. Salami will treat them in the same manner like his predecessor. It is the reason they are disparaging the process that produced the current Vice-Chancellor, disguising their confused strike (actually they fool themselves that it is civil disobedience) as against the process that produced Prof. Salami and not about money. The sensible argument remains that if your grouse is against the process and not unpaid allowances and you have taken it to court, why not wait for the outcome of the case? Why the continual disturbance of the peace of the university? Why cause violence? Why result to self-help?

In all, the call by Prof. Adegbola and his NASU group  and SSANU is one informed by the urge to mislead the public and gain undue credit. The action of the Visitor in OAU is wrong and he cannot remove a substantive Vice-Chancellor. If the Visitor has not taken the claims of these groups as truth, let him set up a panel to investigate the Governing Council and the process that led to the emergence of Prof. Salami as the substantive Vice-Chancellor who the Federal Character Commission under the Presidency has given a letter of appointment through the OAU registrar on Tuesday June 21, 2016. That is the way of decent and civilised people.

Dr. Okowa is resident in Ile-Ife.

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