Crisis is brewing among both the academic and non-academic staff members of three Ogun State-owned polytechnics, whose Rectors just completed their two tenures, over who should take over from them.
Saga Gist reports that the former Rector of the Ogun State Institute of Technology (OGITECH), Dr Olufunke Akinkurolere, that of the Gateway ICT Polytechnic, Saapade, Dr Isaiah Oyeyinka and their colleague from Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic, Ijebu-Igbo, Professor Jumoke Bilesanmi-Awoderu, have all completed their two terms and had since been sent off.
However, crisis started when the choice of who to take over from them became unclear with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology playing what the workers termed a ‘hide and seek game’.
At first, the workers said they did not know who the former Rectors handed over to, saying this was against the practice that the most senior academic staffer of a polytechnic must be handed over to.
Also, it was said that the trio made several attempts to have their eight-year tenure extended by three months, pending the appointment of substantive Rectors.
Though the Commissioner of Education did not grant their prayers for extension, the former Rectors are reportedly still “in charge of the polytechnics’ bank accounts.”
It was gathered that the duo of Oyeyinka and Bilesanmi-Awoderu of Saapade and Ijebu-Igbo polytechnics have handed over to the most senior academics, but the situation at the Ogun State Institute of Technology, Igbesa followed an “unknown norm.”
To the surprise of the workers, the former Rector of OGITECH was the one who announced that the fifth person on the institute’s lecturers’ seniority list, Mr Oluyemi Akanbi Odutola, had been appointed to be the Coordinator.
In a release, Akinkurolere said: “Good evening Honourable Member of OGITECH Academic Board.
“I wish to inform you that I have the directive of the Honourable Commissioner for Education Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu that the most senior Dean, the person of Mr.Oluyemi Akanbi Odutola should be coordinating the affairs of the Polytechnic along with the 3 Management Staff until further directive from the Ministry.
“Sequel to above, all incoming mails to the office of the Rector and other statutory requests will be treated by Mr. Oluyemi Akanbi Odutola until there is further directive from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
“Also, Mr. Odutola will be briefed on how to go about the coordination by the Ministry.
“This is for your information, please. Thank you.”
Our correspondent gathered that Odutola’s appointment is already causing internal wrangling among workers of OGITECH, especially Principal and Chief Lecturers.
A source from the polytechnic said anonymously that the former Rector had, in October 2021, promoted Odutola to the post of Principal Lecturer.
Three months later, Akinkurolere was said to have shunned due process to recommend the promotion of the same man to the post of Chief Lecturer, without the knowledge of Appointments and Promotions Committee and the Education Ministry.
It was gathered that other Principal Lecturers in the polytechnic expressed their displeasure to the approving authority, by writing a letter to the Education Commissioner, Abayomi Arigbabu, who reportedly said though he could not revert himself on Odutola’s promotion, the latter should not parade himself as a Chief Lecturer.
“It is now clear that they have been planning this whole thing a long time ago.
“Everybody was shocked with the appointment of Odutola as Coordinator. We don’t know the meaning of this. He is the fifth on the seniority list.
“Surprisingly, the out-gone Rectors are now consultants and signatories to the accounts. At OGITECH, the former Rector hurriedly paid this month’s salary so that she can benefit from it. That Odutola they appointed as Coordinator is just like a smokescreen. He can’t approve any money. They only used him to front so as to be able to have access to the account of the institute.
“The Commissioner for Education, who was an active ASUU member and former Vice Chancellor of TASUED, is surprisingly supporting this deviation from the academic tradition that a substantive should hand over to the most senior person. This is abnormal. They want to make Odutola a stooge,” a lecturer in the polytechnic said.
Also, a non-academic staffer has cautioned against igniting an unnecessary crisis that could consume the polytechnic.
The worker, who did not want to be mentioned because he is not authourised to talk to the press, said: “Cordinators were appointed in the three polytechnics, where the Rectors completed their two terms on Friday, 15th July, 2022.
“At Ijebu-Igbo and Saapade, however, they handed over to the most senior, but at Igbesa, this isn’t so. The woman at Igbesa handed over to the number 5 on the seniority list of academics. This has been causing issues in the polytechnic. I am afraid this unnecessary crisis may consume the institute. Government should address it immediately.
“As I speak to you, these former Rectors are still the signatories to the polytechnics’ account and they’re also consultants to the schools. All these are aberrations.”
Contacted, the Education Commissioner, Arigbabu, said the way in which the three polytechnics would be run is the sole decision of the State government.
According to him, the three former Rectors have handed over to the Ministry and it is the government that would decide who should fill the vacuum pending the appointment of a substantive Rector.
Arigbabu said the Rectors could not have handed over to anybody in the polytechnics as none of them has a substantive Deputy Rector.
“Do the lecturers want the Rectors to hand over to them? The Rectors are no longer in the institutions. What do they mean they didn’t hand over. It is not in their purveiw to determine who takes over. They didn’t apply to be administrators. How we adminster the polytechnics is not in their purview. The government is doing that already. There is an advert in the papers concerning the appointment of Rectors.
“We are not extending the tenures of the (former) Rectors. If we are extending it, we won’t ask them to hand over. I have their hand over notes.
“It is not the protocol that the most senior lecturer must be handed over to. I have been in the system before all of them. It is not the protocol to hand over to anybody. The ideal thing is that, if there is a Deputy Rector, he will be the one to hand over to. They don’t have substantive Deputy Rectors in those places.
“The person to take over does not have to be someone from the polytechnic. Do you know whether we are bringing someone from outside?” Arigbabu submitted.