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Fadeyi Oluwaseun
Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomosho
B.tech Marketing Management
Graduate, Nigeria.
As a senior public -spirited citizen , I have watched with dismay and unease the unfolding drama between the authorities of the Federal University Oye -Ekiti and some workers ’ unions. The unions under reference are the Non -Academic Staff Union and the Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities .

In my capacity as a free -wheeling journalist , I was able to have a comprehensive insight into the nature of the issues which have brought the young university to a near - standstill in recent weeks .

Incidentally , the platform was provided by the interactive session between the Vice -Chancellor of the university , Prof . Kayode Soremekun and newspaper correspondents in Ado -Ekiti . As far as I could gather from the interaction , three main issues constitute the bone of contention .

The first has to do with the fact that outstanding salaries are being owed for two months . The second revolves around the issue of promotions while the last one , which is arguably the most important and intractable , centres on the issue of hazard allowance.

In his response, the Vice Chancellor proceeded to take on the issues in turn .

As regards outstanding salaries , he pointed out that , as of Monday , January 9 , 2017, when the press conference was being held , November salaries had been paid and to boot , December salaries though late , would hit the workers ’ bank accounts on that day. And true to the Vice - Chancellor’ s words and as I write, the workers are not being owed any salary.

On the second issue, Soremekun pointed out that modalities were in place to carry out the promotion exercise . In this respect , he pointed out that earlier on , the management had had to accede to the workers ’ earlier demands by jettisoning the idea of conducting promotion examinations .

On the issue of hazard allowance , the Vice -Chancellor told the journalists that only one union , that is , the National Association of Academic Technologists, had the statutory power to draw this allowance since the allowance was embedded in the personnel costs of the respective technologists . According to him , other universities were directed to pay the hazard allowance, “ IF THEY COULD ”, from their respective Internally Generated Revenue .

The Vice -Chancellor went on to say that , a five -year old institution like Federal University Oye Ekiti has a very sparse IGR base . It was further deposed that this was more so when comparisons were made with first generation universities like the Obafemi Awolowo University , University of Lagos and University of Ibadan . The Vice -Chancellor queried where he was expected to get the funds to pay hazard allowance , which was not part of the agreement which NASU and SSANU reached with the Federal Government .
Meanwhile , the Vice -Chancellor pointed out that even the sparse IGR base of FUOYE was being compromised by the violent tactics of the striking workers .

Such tactics, as he pointed out, included the disruption of activities at the Centre for Pre - Degree Studies , which in fact is one of the main sources of the IGR for the young university .

According to him , the National Universities Commission had just approved 19 new programmes for the university , such that in relative terms, the Federal University Oye Ekiti could easily be regarded as one of the fastest growing universities in Nigeria .

He also informed the media gathering that plans were in place to establish two new faculties in the nearest future .

These are the Faculty of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences .

Indeed and as further deposed by him , come January 25 , 2017, the university Senate would formally consider and approve the Doctor of Pharmacy , ( Pharm. D ) programme of the new university . And as if to indicate that this was not a tall dream, it was authoritatively revealed that funds for the new faculties were virtually in place , courtesy of the Federal Government .
A question was also put to him about the alleged award of arbitrary contracts , and his response was that there were the subsisting institutional frameworks such that , it was impossible to award contracts in an arbitrary way as alleged .

As regards the allegation that the VC had embarked on frequent overseas trips , and that he had travelled to the United States six times in the last year, Soremekun merely laughed this off by contending that he had been to the US on only one occasion since he assumed office .

On whether N2 m was given to each of his management staff for the Yuletide session , Soremekun dismissed this allegation as a mere fabrication . The VC remarked that the ongoing tussle could be likened to a war in which truth is usually the first casualty as in all wars.

After the session , not a few of the journalists in attendance seemed to have left with the impression that the Vice -Chancellor was more sinned against than sinning . In my view , this was due to two factors . One , so much has been achieved within the spate of 12 months that only apostles of decadence could attempt to hamper the institution in its strides. Indeed , as I looked round the half campus / half forest campus when I later visited the university , my view was that despite the fact that Soremekun had two predecessors , there was still much to do .

Second , the hazard allowance which appears to be the main bone of contention is not really his fault , since as pointed out, only technologists have managed to wrest hazard allowance in the form of a formal agreement with the Federal Government . Meanwhile , my own investigation reveals that all the other universities which started at the same time with #FUOYE do not pay this hazard allowance .

Therefore , it is my considered view that the two unions , #NASU and #SSANU, should sheathe their swords . Rather , their efforts should be directed towards the making of a robust case , before the Babalakin Committee which has just been constituted to re- negotiate the FGN - Agreement with the Academic Staff Unions of #Universities and the other unions to ensure a crisis -free academic environment in the institution .

Eniola Adeyemi, Ado - Ekiti, Ekiti State


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