Saturday, June 4, 2016 6:49 pm
Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, is in the eye of the storm as he grapples with lean finances, even as some staff embark daily on protests. Here is a summary of his challenges and his explanation, contained in his interview with journalists from different media houses
Since the inception of the administration of the incumbent Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka from the Department of Geology which commenced on December 1, 2015, the university has been navigating among problems. The problems, on many occasions, have resulted in the disruption of the academic calendar of the institution and presently, the school’s gate has been closed against the students for over a month due to a recent violent protest organized by them to demand for improved municipal services, majorly adequate water and electricity supply and better halls of residence.
Olayinka, who had since the inception of his administration disclosed that life has been quite traumatic ever since he declared intention to run for the post of VC, during a tête-à-tête with newsmen said: “This administration has been in place exactly six months. We are aware that since the beginning of this administration, we have had one crisis or the on allocation of scarce resources. Students complain that there is no electricity 24 hours of the day in their hostels or water is not flowing from the taps, or members of staff complain that they are not being paid their full salaries or some of their allowances are not being paid. These challenges are largely attributed to scarce resources. In the last six months, there have been sporadic demonstrations”.
Olayinka’s first problem started with a group within the system, identified as “Integrity Group”, that rattled him over his victory at the VCship contest. Members explored all means to ensure that his victory was thwarted as they claimed he and the powers that be compromised the election process in his favour against other 11 co-contestants. These are: Adigun Agbaje from Political Science and Olusegun Olusina Akinyinka from College of Medicine; former UI Director of Distance Learning (DLC), Francis Egbokaire; Benjamin Olakunle Fagbemi from
Veterinary Medicine; Augustine Eyiwunmi Falaye from Aquaculture and Fisheries Management; David Olaleye from Virology; Oladele Babatunde Layiwola from Institute of African Studies; Ayodeji Emmanuel Oluleye from Engineering; Labode Popoola from Forest Resources Management; Oluwole Olanrewaju Adedeji from the College of Medicine, Lagos State University, (LASU) and Mupha Adekunle Kenzie Smith from Federal University of Technology, (FUTA), Akure. At the peak of the crisis, the court of law threw out the processes filed against him under the ground that it lacked merit.
As he is settling down for business, his administration got its first baptism of fire as the non-academic staff carried out a violent protest on 10 February, shutting down the entire system on the ground that the new VC is not carrying them along and failure to pay earned allowances.
While it seemed the storm was over, March 10, the non- academic staff hit the campus again in a more violent way over nonpayment of certain allowances. They locked up all the University gates and disrupted the ongoing examination of Distance Learning Students, beating some invigilators out of the exam hall, bringing the examination to a close. Thus, the management had to reschedule some of the papers. The strike also forced the institution to postpone the matriculation ceremony meant for new students.
Also, on several occasions, the non-academic staff unions had organized series of congresses where their leaders allegedly rained abuses and curses on the VC and his cabinet. The non-academic staff have equally resolved that henceforth, they would protest daily on campus until all pending issues are resolved.
Not left out, students of the institution on several occasions held protests over inadequate water and electricity supplies on the campus. Already, some unions on campus are calling for the removal of the VC.
In a flier which emanated from Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Right, CDWR, Oyo State Chapter, titled, “Olayinka-led UI management must cut down its spending on frivolities and undue opulence! UI workers must not be made to pay for the claimed decline in government subvention”, the CDWR said that workers unions must be united to demand full payment of salaries and democratic management and control of the university resources by elected representative of workers, students and other members of the university community.
According to the flier, “The CDWR condemns the continued refusal of Professor Olayinka-led administration to pay all deductions made from the salaries of both the academic and non-academic staff of the university since December 2015. We at the same time frown at the failure of the management to keep to the terms of the agreement signed with the leadership of the non-academic staff unions, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, NASU, National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, by the immediate past administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on the payment of N30, 000 and N15, 000 as hazard allowance for senior and junior non-teaching staff of federal universities. The CDWR also suspects the continuous refusal of the Professor Olayinka-led administration to remit deductions meant for the union as check-up dues as a technical means by the management to weaken workers unions within the university”.
Contrary to this position, a member of staff said, “Olayinka is good and capable but it is unfortunate that there are so many checks now compared to the time of his immediate predecessor when there was no check and he could do whatever he liked. Besides, it is wrong to compare Olayinka with his predecessor because his predecessor had enough money at his disposal without TSA. But Olayinka doesn’t have access to money. I think people should be reasonable with this man and join hands with him to move the premier university forward”.
Reacting to the multifaceted crises confronting him and the institution, Olayinka held an interactive session with the newsmen and explained the situation on ground.
Below is the interview he had with media houses, including TheNEWS, recently
How we are tackling challenges at UI–VC Olayinka
Could you shed light on the current state of the school as well as clarify the controversies as regards reopening of the school to the students?
It was the Dean of students that sent a message to me through Whats app that there was a purported electronic bulletin from the university asking the students to return to school and that lecture will start next week. There is no such decision. The electronic bulletin that carries it is fake and it did not originate from us. We asked the students to go home on Tuesday April 26 2016 due to crisis you all know in the university. We are already working towards reopening the school as soon as possible. It is the Senate that closed the university not the vice chancellor.
The Senate will reconvene over the matter very soon and as soon as it feels comfortable for the school to be reopened, it will announce to the world. Right now, there is an ad hoc committee that has been set up to look at the state of facilities in the halls of residence especially in terms of provision of municipal services, mainly electricity, water and sanitation. The committee was given two weeks to submit its report. The two weeks has expired but it asked for a slight extension. By this weekend thereabout, they should be able to submit the report. Today marks the end of May, in the last six months, there has been sporadic demonstrations: one happened in November 18 and 19 last year, and about the end of February and early March when students locked up gates of the entrances of the university, another was between April 25 and 28.
Since I resumed office, protest is like every other month over water and electricity. This problem is caused by scarce resources. Over the weekend, I met the chairman of the ad hoc committee. To let you know that the crisis in the university is basically as a result of scarce resources, let us theoretically assume that Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IBEDC, can give us electricity for 24 hours per day, we have to pay for it. The chairman of the ad hoc committee showed me a table which I will present to you formally soon. From that table, it will cost us N103m monthly to access 24 hour supply of electricity from IBEDC. We can’t afford it. Last year, N140m was allocated to the university. That was barely enough to pay the cleaning contractors because we pay N12m monthly to the cleaning contractors.
The IGR we generate basically from the fees paid by the postgraduates and distance learning students for now is spent on paying for electricity, internet bandwidth, external examiners and running the system – fueling official vehicles and the rest. We get N140m and we need about N1b. Again, TSA that is introduced during my tenure also has its own side effects on our financial hiccups. Today, our money is domiciled with CBN. Before, we used to have accounts with many commercial banks and idle money there generates interest. Apart from interest, a particular bank donated N100m to UI last year as part of their corporate social responsibility because we have so many accounts with them. All those accounts have been transferred to CBN.