Till late into the night on Friday, protesting workers of the University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State, stood at the official quarters of the chairman of the institution’s governing council, Joshua Waklek.
They continued their agitation against the selection process of the university’s 13th substantive vice-chancellor.
As earlier reported by this newspaper, representatives of the protesters, who are members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), were on Friday afternoon met by Mr Waklek and other members of the governing council.
But unsatisfied with the outcome of the meeting, the protesters continued their agitation till late in the night, even as they advised the 71-year-old Waklek “not to allow himself to be used by the outgoing vice-chancellor, Idowu Olayinka.”
Mr Olayinka, whose tenure is billed to end on November 30, has been accused of compromising the selection process to “perpetuate himself in office by installing his deputy in charge of administration, Kayode Adebowale.”
But Mr Waklek reportedly said that the council has addressed the concerns of the protesting workers by suspending the selection process, and that other issues raised including the appointment of an acting vice-chancellor can only be addressed at a properly constituted meeting of the body.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, the chairman of SSANU, Wale Akinremi, said suspending the selection process was not enough.
He said both Adebowale and “the former vice-chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA),” are unqualified to be appointed the institution’s vice-chancellor. He, therefore, said the resolution of the protesting workers was that they should be screened out of the contest.
Why we’re against Adebowale, Mimiko –Akinremi
Mr Akinremi said Mr Adebowale played critical roles in what he termed the abysmal performance of the outgoing vice-chancellor’s administration, and that he cannot be allowed to continue Mr Olayinka’s alleged anti-labour policies.
He said; “So on Adebowale, we concluded that we don’t want an extension of the Olayinka-led administration on our campus. We all work together, so we know him very well. If not, why will the whole members of SSANU and NASU insist on opposing a single candidate? While I cannot speak for the academic staff, we quite know that the larger percentage of them don’t want him.”
Speaking on Mr Mimiko, the union leader said as a vice-chancellor, the professor of political science allegedly sacked workers for holding different political views on the campus in Ondo State.
“Professor Femi Mimiko is also anti-labour. While he was the vice-chancellor at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), he sacked some of our members because they wore shirts of an opposition party because of his brother (former governor Olusegun Mimiko) who was the incumbent governor. So such a professor that could not tolerate dissent cannot become a vice-chancellor in a university like UI,” he said.
Justification for demands
Responding to critics who accused the union of interfering in a matter meant to be handled by the university’s senate and the governing council, Mr Akinremi said those who hold such views do not understand the workings of the university system.
He said as employees of the university, and as taxpayers who are critical stakeholders in the university project, to be involved in the selection process, cannot be out of place.
“For those who keep asking about our interest in knowing who becomes a vice-chancellor, it is our inalienable right. Why do we need to know who becomes Nigeria’s president? And if they say it is the responsibility of the Senate, about 153 members of the Senate were elected by us. Even two members of the governing council are elected by us. The secretary to the council and the senate is statutorily a member of our union. We are taxpayers and employees of the institution. So nobody can ask us why we are so concerned,” Mr Akinremi said.
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