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LAUTECH workers’ Union absolves VC of allegations of incitement

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The Non Academic Staff Union of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso (LAUTECH) has absolved the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the institution, Professor Michael Olufisayo Ologunde, of sundry allegations of incitement over unpaid salary arrears by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.

The union stressed that the recent demand for payment of the unpaid salaries and allowances of its members was not instigated by the management of the institution.

The state gaffer, Makinde, yesterday in a statewide monthly live media chat on the state owned radio and television stations, had earlier alleged that the institution’s Vice Chancellor was the brain behind workers’ demand for immediate payment of their salary arrears barely one month after the state took over management of the Institution.

Governor Makinde said it is disheartening to note that a VC of a reputable institution like LAUTECH could be fingered in such an act.

But, LAUTECH workers’ Union, in a statement signed by the chairman of the Joint Action Committee of the non-teaching staff, Alex Alesinloye Muraina and made available to journalists on Saturday in Ogbomoso, insisted that the allegation that certain members of the institution’s management are instigating workers’ union to demand for their allowances is a ‘flagrant distortion of truth’.

Muraina added that workers don’t need anyone to push them to ask for their emoluments.

The statement read , “We are compelled to react to the radio phone-in programme of His Excellency Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State this morning on 98.5 FM, particularly as it affects the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, and the demand by the Joint Action Committee of the non-teaching staff, for accumulated unpaid salaries and allowances dating back to 2012.

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“With all sense of responsibility, we are aware of the various efforts of our amiable Governor to put LAUTECH on the global map through his generosity.

“We are also aware that some mischievous individuals are working assiduously to ensure that the Governor is enlisted in moves to unjustly punish some individuals.

“In an apparent satisfaction with the running of the institution by the management as currently constituted, JAC noted that the current vice chancellor is the first to be appointed from within the University community since LAUTECH’s establishment over three decades ago”.

Muraina, who is also the chairman of the university’s Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities recalled that the agitation, especially  for unpaid salaries has been on since 2016, when the present crop of leaders of LAUTECH were at best lecturers and administrators, holding no special position.

He explained that workers have continually made representations to succeeding administrations in the two owner states before recently when Oyo became the sole owner.

The statement continued, “This is the first time in the over 30 years existence of the University, that an insider will be Vice-Chancellor and we have never had it this good.

“That some members of Management of the Institution have been instigating workers’ unions to ask for payment of their emoluments is a flagrant distortion of fact, because all workers are aware of what is being owed them and do not need to be reminded to ask for their wages.

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“We have also made representations to the present Governor of Oyo State not fewer than three times before the last one, so it is wrong to say that demands are being made now because Oyo owns LAUTECH.

“For the avoidance of doubts, LAUTECH non-teaching staff are being owed 8 months salaries, 13 months cooperative deductions, promotion arrears, earned allowances for years among other things”.

The workers in the statement, however appealed to Governor Makinde to do everything within his power to facilitate payment of their accumulated allowances, noting that the situation has led to untimely death of some members while some of them are dying.

“Rather than engage the Governor who has proved to be our friend and benefactor in a squabble and become ingrates, we want to appeal to him to see the need to facilitate payment of all outstanding emoluments, considering that a number of our people have died due to their inability to cater for their health, more are still dying.

“We want to assure the Governor of our sincere hundred percent loyalty and support to his government.

“We want to plead with him to jettison whatever anyone may be telling him in order to put a wedge between Management of LAUTECH and his government.

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“The leadership of the workers’ Union in LAUTECH, the only Institution in the State where payment of minimum wage has not commenced, is hereby reiterating that the present crop of Management is the best in our over 30 years history and that we thank Governor Makinde for undertaking not to tamper with the present structure, for now”, the statement added.

 

 

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Education

Insecurity: ‘We ‘re not sure of when schools will reopen’- Niger govt.

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Niger state government has declared that it is not sure of when the boarding schools that were shut down will reopen as a result of the insecurity ravaging the state.

The state Commissioner for Education, Hon Hannatu Jibrin, stated this during the reunion and handing over of the kidnapped Kagara students to their families on Sunday.

The Commissioner explained that the government is meeting with parents, teachers and other stakeholders to come up with a template for the reopening of the schools.

In her words, “The security challenge facing this state is huge and we have to ensure things are put in proper place before we will think of reopening the school. I can’t say when they will go back to school or when it will be reopened but we will ensure that the SS3 students are kept in touch with, to see how we will manage them so that they won’t miss anything and still write the final examination. Schools and students are delicate, but we are talking to the parents and other stakeholders to come up with a template for the reopening of the school”.

Speaking further, the commissioner encouraged the students not to be discouraged by their experience stressing that they should go back to the society as better people and identify a path to see how they can get out of the trauma caused by their abduction.

Also commenting , the Director-General of the Child’s Right Agency in the state, Hajia Mariam Kolo, who has been at the forefront of counselling of the students to get them out of the trauma described what they went through as indeed a harrowing experience.

Mariam, however said she was happy with the students’ response to  their counselling.

She also stated that the agency has done its best and that there would be a follow up on the students adding that the feedback from them will determine what steps would be taken next.

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OYSCATECH not shut; academic activities was only disrupted by students – Management

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Authority of the Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora (OYSCATECH) on Tuesday dismissed report that the citadel of learning was shut after protest by the students.

It added that the School is still in session but academic activities was only disrupted by students .

Also, the school authority expressed surprise at the hasty decision of the Students Union Government of the institution to disrupt academic activities without first presenting its agitations to the management of the institution

Contained in a statement by the Institution’s Acting Registrar, Mr. Paul Oyediran, which was made available to newsmen by its Public Relations officer, Opeyemi Olawore, the management said, “the attention of the Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology (OYSCATECH), Igboora has been drawn to a misleading information being circulated by some online media about a peaceful protest by Students of Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora on Monday, February, 2021.

“It is therefore, necessary to put the record straight in order to prevent members of the public from being misguided. The general public are hereby notified that Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora has not been shut, the School is still in session but academic activities was only disrupted by student”.

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The management further calls for patience on the part of the students, urging the students’ Union Leadership to present its agitations.

According to the Students Union president, Comrade Salahudeen Hameed Olasunkanmi who spoke with the Acting Registrar of the institution, “the protest was aimed at drawing the attention of stakeholders to the poor funding of education.”

However, the Management said it is worrisome that some individuals for reasons best known to them decided to mislead members of the public by distorting the facts under whatever guise in order to bring the good name of the institution to a disrepute.

The statement further noted that the Management has never turned deaf hears to the needs of Students and other materials that would make the stay of students on campus an enjoyable one.

The statement read, “For the records, Students of Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora can attest to the fact that they are usually treated as very important personalities, while students’ matters are giving priority attention within the available resources.

“It is therefore not true that poor treatment was meted out to students of the institution or that the students were protesting as a result of neglect in the hand of the school management.

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“With respect to amenities, it is no gainsaying that the institution has state of the art facilities for teaching and learning, while some are due for upgrading, but efforts are underway to fix such. Besides, the institution has up to 10 boreholes that supply water to the various departments in the college, while the health centre of the institution which was donated by the Ibarapa Central Local Government, has experienced personnel that provide medical assistance to ailing students.

“Also, the institution is connected to the national grid and generators are available at the various department for power supply.

“The management wishes to put on record that the welfare of students and that of its leaders have never been handled with levity, as the management pledges its untiring effort to students’ welfare and sound teaching and training of the youths towards innovation, food sufficiency and self- employment”, the statement explained.

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Prof. Ibidapo-Obe: The Wind That Carries Clothes Stacked in the Room and The Rest of Us

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He sauntered in with a gait that did not betray his age in any way. As he approached the staircase that led to the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, he noticed a gathering of students in the Library Hall a few metres away. He made a detour and within minutes, he was addressing a set of freshmen, telling them of the myriad of opportunities ahead of them. Hearing that it was their first day as students of First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan seemed to ignite something in him. He took his time to tell them of his experience as an undergraduate about five decades ago and how it was possible for them to chart a course for their lives even from day one as Tech-Uites.

He did something similar at the gala organized for the pioneer students of Tech-U during their orientation. Having arrived the venue early with his wife, he took time to interact with the students, many of who didn’t know who he was until later that evening. He spoke to them individually about their dreams and aspirations and encouraged them to work towards those dreams.

That was something no one could take away from Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe; timely and necessary presence. Those who were in the University of Lagos then would agree that in his time as Vice-Chancellor, if there was a crime on campus, he would be there within five minutes. Another thing was his love and avuncular disposition towards young people.

His profile was no doubt intimidating; apart from being a renowned Professor of Systems Engineering, he was a man given to path-breaking research, passionate teaching and impactful community engagement. From being the best graduating student in 1971, he was the first to graduate with a First Class and the first student to win the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize outside the College of Medicine in UNILAG. Those who say his rise was exponential are always quick to add that he put in a corresponding amount of effort to achieve the results he did.

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I found his affection for young people inexplicable until he told my good friend and brother, Femi Babatunde one of the reasons behind it. “Of course I relate with young people. The people you are making policies for are young people. Your policies will not prosper if you don’t carry the young people along”, he said.

An apparently unknown part of his achievements is that he set up what is today known as UNILAG Consult from the scratch. He was the pioneer Managing Director of the organization. His unmitigated interaction with the industry was put to effective use during his sabbatical leave when he became a Director at Ikeja Hotels; the company that built the Sheraton Hotels back then.

His skills of analysis and organization have never been in doubt. When put to the test, he produced outstanding results: the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo is a proof. Narrating the experience when he was tasked with setting up a Federal University in Ebonyi State, Professor Ibidapo-Obe said “when I went to Ebonyi, I had to start from the scratch. We call it green field; they just give you a forest with some touches of human beings living there, which they claim is their ancestral land”.

That probably explains the serious bond between Professors Oye Ibidapo-Obe and Ayobami Salami, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier Technical University. The latter is going through what Professor Ibidapo-Obe went through in Ndufu Alike with the establishment of First Technical University, Ibadan. Interestingly, Professor Ibidapo-Obe was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of Tech-U till he passed on.

Both are united in the belief that vision is one of the key requirements for building a 21st Century University. Both men also see functional technical tertiary education as a panacea for Nigeria’s education system which has been uglified by the innumerable problems bedeviling it. Both professors have demonstrated their belief in the Tech-U advantage, which is equipping young people to become job creators right from the university. Little wonder the Council of the University chaired by Professor Ibidapo-Obe is made up of accomplished professionals who know fully well that education as a tool can cure all the problems of Nigeria as a nation. Yes, Tech-U’s pioneer Pro-Chancellor saw the birth of Nigeria’s first entrepreneurial university, where students are trained not only to use their brains but their hands too. Sadly, he didn’t wait to see the pioneer set graduate.

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The list of those who will miss Professor Ibidapo-Obe is endless: Governor Seyi Makinde, who was his student in UNILAG will miss the wise counsel of the deceased. Alex Ekwueme University, Ndufu Alike, will miss its pioneer Vice-Chancellor while Tech-U will miss its pioneer Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council. The reason may not be farfetched, over the past four decades, he has built people who became instrumental to the development of their immediate environments and the country as a whole. Those people have in turn, gone ahead to impart more lives.

No one contests the fat that he lived an exemplary and fulfilled life. And his transition sends a strong message to those of us left on this side of eternity that when wind carries clothes stacked in a box in the room, the yam flour seller needs not to be told to take heed. Gone are the days when people argued whether Coronavirus was real or not. Those who have not lost anyone to the virus will likely know someone who survived it or someone who is presently undergoing treatment. It is already that close.

The community transmission we were warned against is already here with unprecedented aggression; same for the second wave of the pandemic and even deadlier new strains of the virus. And while Nigerians continue to anticipate the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, hardly does any one of us need to be told to take responsibility for ourselves and those around us. It is already public knowledge that medical facilities are already overwhelmed as we have heard of billionaires who could not even get treated for lack of space in the hospitals.

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It is deeply disturbing that many of us have let down our guard. Nose masks are now mostly worn as chin masks while some have done away with them outrightly in the name of “we work in the same office, so I can remove my mask, he is a family member so I am covered”. The culture of regular hand washing that we imbibed only a year ago is fast fading away. Quite unfortunately, not many people are confident enough to go for voluntary testing.

If strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols can save one the stress of contracting the virus, the risk of infecting others and unnecessary death, it is incomprehensible why people have chosen to jettison such preventive measures.

Perhaps more needs to be done to enlighten Nigerians that prevention is not just better; it is also cheaper than cure. COVID-19 is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. And with the rich and influential not immune, the yam flour seller needs to take heed when wind starts removing clothes stacked in the room.

 

Wole Adejumo, writes from Ibadan

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