The Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, has suffered a range of neglect since it was inaugurated for academic activities in 2010 by the Ondo State Government.
Besides the poor attention from its owner, which resulted in substantial infrastructural deficits since its inception, the institution’s fortunes dwindled with a dip in government resources occasioned by a drastic fall in federal allocations.
Workers of the one-faculty university had been on strike since May this year, following the inability of the state government to pay employees of the institution.
The last time lecturers and other staff members of the school received their salary was in December 2015, bringing the salary arrears to seven months.
Worse hit by the development are students of the university whose programmes have been delayed by the unending strike.
“We have been home for over two months now, since the strike was called and it means we are going to loose a whole session if the strike is not called off soon,” says Aliu Quadri Olawale, a 400 level student of microbiology of the institution.
“It’s been two months since students have been sent on force semester break, in which we didn’t write the exams.
“The reason was simply because of salary issues, the government is owing the staffs about six months salaries, these prompted the lecturers to all agree on ‘no payment, no work.”
As a 400 level student, Mr. Olawale is supposed to be on his mid-session internship since June, but having not written his first semester examination, he is not qualified to begin the exercise.
“Since we cannot go on Industrial Training(IT), I am afraid this could lead to an additional year for us in 400 level and also the 500 level students may graduate next year if care is not taken,” he lamented.
The institution’s students union government had without success called on the government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) to reach a compromise so students could return to class.
Thomas Opeyemi John, the SUG General Secretary, told PREMIUM TIMES that students were helpless, and that their stay at home had become endless.
“It’s been well over two months and we are still at home,” he said. “By now we ought to be writing our second semester examination, but the management said they can’t pay salary.
According to Mr. John, ASUU and other unions’ uncompromising stance in the face of the inability of the government to pay salaries spells doom for the students who are frustrated at the moment.
The students are appealing to the media and other well meaning organisations to help appeal to the government to do something drastic to change the situation.
Temola Dayo, Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities(SSANU), OSUSTECH, in a chat with PREMIUM TIMES , said the university workers would not return to work until salaries were paid.
“Our position is, no salary, no resumption,” he said. “Besides unpaid salaries, the institution has no power supply, there are abandoned projects everywhere and you work when there is no money because workers would have to pay for transport to go to work.”
He said the university had run only one faculty (faculty of science) for the past seven years, lowering the standard of the institution.
Mr. Dayo said a letter listing all the problems of the institution, dated July 20, was forwarded to the state governor, but nothing had been done to address the problems.
Efforts to reach the Vice Chancellor, Professor Adegbite, was unsuccessful as calls made to him received no response.
However, the state Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, said the government recognised the pains of the students and lecturers and that it was working to ensure the issues were resolved.
He admitted that the government had no money to pay the workers, owing to the current drop in revenues accruing to the state.
Mr. Akinmade said while the government was prepared to reach a compromise with the striking workers, there was need for the latter to reason with the government in the present financial reality.
“When we came on board the university was on paper,” he explained. “It was this government that ensured that the university took off at its temporary site and them moved to its permanent site,” so the government means well and is prepared to do all within its powers to ensure the students return to classes.”