Stakeholders have decried the action of Ekiti State Government over its hasty decision to sack heads of state-owned tertiary institutions without Governing Councils in place, claiming that the action lacked due process.
Stakeholders are divided over the last week sacking of heads of Ekiti Stateowned tertiary institutions. In what the state government described as moves to eradicate all forms of imbalances and other existing decadence in the state’s tertiary institutions for effective service delivery, the Vice- Chancellor of Ekiti State University (EKSU), Prof. Sam Oye Bandele; the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), Dr. Kolawole Ogundipe; and the Provost of the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, Prof. Mojisola Oyarekua were shown the way out of the system.
The state Governor and Visitor/ Moderator to the institution, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who approved the removal of the heads of the institutions, had on assumption of office last year constituted Visitation Panels for all state-owned tertiary institutions, with a view to eradicating all forms of imbalances and other existing decadence in the system in order to pave way for effective service delivery.
“The move is to further strengthen the institutions by looking into their financial records, academic and administrative activities so as to reposition the institution for the challenges of the 21st Century,” the governor had said while inaugurating the EKSU panel chaired by Prof. Bode Asubiojo. Part of the terms of reference of the fact Finding Committee is also to look into the state-owned tertiary institutions to properly situate, channel and refocus its activities.
On his administration’s decision to set up visitation panels, the governor, said it was not to witch-hunt anybody, but to look at the challenges responsible for the setback of the tertiary in-stitutions with a view to coming out with recommendations for effective solutions. Fayemi said the decision had became necessary to provide a guide and make recommendations that would not only revive the state tertiary institutions, but also make them one of the best in the development of knowledge economy in the country.
The institutions are Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado Ekiti; College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti; College of Science and Technology, Ijero-Ekiti; Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), as well as the state-owned Broadcasting Corporation of Ekiti State (BSES). While, receiving the reports and recommendations of the Fact Finding Committee in his office in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, the governor commended the painstaking actions of the panels, but dispelled the insinuation that the reason behind the composition of the Visitation Panel was to victimise some members of staff of the institutions.
“Permit me to restate here that our intention in setting up the panels is not to witch-hunt anybody, but rather to reposition the affected institutions and agency for better performance. The governor said: “As a government, vibrancy of our institutions is very essential to drive knowledge economy, which is one of our four-point agenda. We must, therefore, continuously focus on how to maximize the potentials of government.
“These panels were set up for stocktaking. For us to move forward steadily as a government, it is imperative that we know where we were before, where we are presently and where we are going. “As I mentioned in my inaugural speech on October 16, our mission is to reclaim our land and restore our values. This land has been reclaimed. In deepening our values,therefore, we must strengthen and promote our institutions and educational entrepreneurship for the development of functional human capital development.
My government is also committed to improving service delivery in all government agencies. “The present state of our tertiary institutions as inherited by the administration should be a matter of serious concern to all well-meaning stakeholders. It is on this basis that the panels were constituted. “Let me assure the chairmen and members of these panels that the government would critically study the report and consider the term of reference point-by-point and thereafter avail the public with outcome.
“I wish to also commend you for accepting the assignments, and carrying them out with every sense of diligence and urgency they deserve.” Meanwhile, Chairman of the Visitation Panel to Ekiti State University, Prof. Bode Asubiojo, said the bodies after being constituted on November 2, 2018 immediately swung into actions and worked day and night to meet the deadline.
He said memoranda were received and considered from all segments of stakeholders in the state, including present and past managements so that the panels could come up with robust recommendations that would help the state.
Asubiojo said: “In the case of Ekiti State University, we spoke to two former Vice-Chancellors and we also engaged the students, alumni and even parents. Also members of the public came up with series of petitions, which we factored into our works.
We believed we have worked diligently and that we have come up with reports that will bring high standard to these institutions.” Meanwhile, the State Executive Council (SEC) at its meetings on January 17 and 19, 2019, received the White Paper containing the recommendations of the Visitation Panels.
The Council in its deliberations considered the recommendations of the White Paper on each of the institutions and gave tacit approval for implementation of the recommendations. According to the government, having observed the White Paper, the State Executive Council discovered a general trend of leadership and administrative challenges across the institutions, as well as abuse of office and financial recklessness in some of the institutions. It was then decided that government would take immediate steps to constitute governing councils for the five stateowned institutions that will be saddled with the responsibility of implementing the recommendations contained in the white paper.
The state government while expressing its commitment in ensuring that all institutions in the state are well-repositioned for excellent service delivery made a thorough examination of the panels’ recommendations and, therefore, considered and adopted the white papers for immediate action. Consequently, the governor, in the action, relived Prof. Sam Oye Bandele (EKSU); Dr. Kolawole Ogundipe (EKSUTH), and Prof. Mojisola Oyarekua (College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti) of their appointments respec-tively at a sweep. But, reacting to the development, the EKSU chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bandele, saying the decision of the state government was hasty and not in accordance with the university system extant law.
The ASUU Chairman in the South West Zone, Prof. Olu Olu, in the union’s reaction said though the union was yet to see the recommendations of the white paper, he, however, declared that ASUU strongly condemned the removal of the Vice- Chancellor. He added that ASUU does not oppose to the decision of any government to sanction any principal officer who erred, but such decision, he said must pass through due process. He said: “The new government in the state came on board and decided to set up a visitation panel for institutions in Ekiti State, but the decision of the panels, the recommendation in the white paper, is not yet known to us.
“I learnt that the reasons they gave in the white paper bothered on leadership challenges and misappropriation of funds. The union had a congress on January 24, where we strongly rejected the removal of the Vice-Chancellor without following the due process, not that we are against the removal of any erring principal officer, but it should be done accordingly.
“University is an autonomous institution, there must be due process in which a council would be set up (the council is not even in place), while the reports and recommendations of the white paper should be forwarded to the council, which in turn would make a decision on the removal. “Unfortunately, we just heard the announcement, we are not actually against the government removing a principal officer, but it should follow due process.
If things should continue like this, we don’t know what university system would turn to in the future. We have already sent our reactions to the government, expecting the response.”
But, Prof. Bandele, however, declined comments on the development when New Telegraph put a call to his phone line, but only said: “I am waiting for the white paper, which the government said would be released next week.
I don’t want to comment on the issue. I tried my best and it is a privilege to be there in the first instance.” Echoing the position of ASUU, a source, who did not want his name in print, claimed that the state government, which was yet to constitute governing councils for the institutions, was too hasty in its decision, saying sacking of vice-chancellor by new government has become a trend in the state.
However, the state government, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Yinka Oyebode directed that “the most senior officials are to take over the running of the institutions, pending the appointment of substantive heads.
The statement noted: “In the case of EKSU, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Olubunmi Ajayi is to take charge in an acting capacity, pending the appointment of a substantive Vice-Chancellor by the Governing Council; while the governor also approved the appointment of Mrs. Folakemi Falore as the Sole Administrator for the College of Health Sciences and Technology, Ijero-Ekiti, who in her capacity will be responsible for implementing the white paper recommendation for the institution.”
The statement explained further that the State Executive Council directed that the Governing Councils’ immediate task would be the implementation of the approved recommendations of the white paper. New Telegraph learnt that the inauguration of the Governing Councils for the institutions, whose members had already been announced, was billed for Monday January 28 (yesterday).
For EKSU, members of the council are Prof. Bamitale Omole, former Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University as Chairman, Chief Oluwole Ojo, Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi, Prof. Funmi Olonisakin, Prof. Okey Onyejekwe, Mrs. Foluso Olaniyan, Dr. Amina Salihu, Mrs. Mope Akerele, Prof. Funso Falade and Mr. Matthew Imoru. Members of council of EKSUTH are Dr. Dare Teniola (Chair), Dr. Adebola Orimadegun, Dr. Adedolapo Fasawe, Prof. Bosede Afolabi, Dr. Janet Funke Ogunbunmi, Mrs. Ajoke Oluwasanmi, and Prince Soji Agunbiade; while members of College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti are Chief Afolabi Ojuawo (Chair), Mrs. Moni Afuye, Prof. Kola Oladunmoye, Mr. S.I. Folorunso, Otunba Kunle Ajayi, and Mrs. Jumoke Adamolekun.