Senior staff of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, on Friday presented a loaf of bread and a bottle of coca cola drink as a birthday gift to the school’s embattled Vice Chancellor, introducing a dramatic twist to their prolonged demand for his dismissal.
The VC, Olusola Oyewole, clocked 61 on Friday.
He has been having a running battle with the workers over allegations of financial misdeeds against him and the pro-Chancellor of the university, Adeseye Ogunlewe.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which is investigated the matter, has interrogated the two officials.
But the university staff, under the banner of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, have continued with their protest, demanding the removal of the VC.
The lecturers added a drama to their protest on Friday, with their birthday presentation to the VC. Executive members of the association delivered the surprising birthday gift to the VC’s office Friday afternoon.
They were however intercepted by the institution’s Chief Security Officer, Peter Bolarinwa, who promised to deliver the bizarre package.
They also demanded the reinstatement of three of their colleagues, Abdulsobur Salam, Lasun Somoye, and Abimbola Bankole, who were suspended for sending a petition to the EFCC, leading to the investigation.
The three lecturers are the whistleblowers who exposed the alleged fraud.
The chairman of the University’s Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, Rotimi Fasuwon, told PREMIUM TIMES that efforts by eminent personalities in the area, including monarchs, to resolve the over two-month crisis, had been rebuffed by the vice-chancellor.
He vowed that the protest would continue until the VC was removed from office. Mr. Fasuwon, however, appealed to members to remain peaceful in pressing their demands.
Meanwhile, the protesting staff, who are responsible for preparing the payment of salaries to all university workers monthly, have failed to do so for September. As a result, staff of the institution have not been paid.
Mr. Fasuwon said the SSANU members should see the non-payment as a sacrifice, to prove that no meaningful progress can happen in the school without the non-teaching staff.
The Public Relations Officer of the school, Emi Alawode, told PREMIUM TIMES that the management was open to dialogue.
“Management is committed to a truce through dialogue. Efforts are ongoing to see that this is achieved. Thank you,” he said.