Unease as lecturers battle Fed Polytechnic Rector
Some members of the staff of Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State are at daggers drawn with the Rector of the 28-year-old institution over alleged sundry infractions. GBENGA ADERANTI, who was on a visit to the school, reports on the state of affairs at the federal government owned institution.
It was a clement Wednesday afternoon and the atmosphere at the Federal Polytechnic Ede, Osun State was calm and quiet. But behind the facade of serenity is a turmoil that threatens to shake the 28-year-old federal institution to its foundation.
The first sign of the graveyard peace at the institution emerged at the rector’s office where new security measures were adopted in respect of visitors. No visitor or members of the institution’s staff was allowed into the office with a telephone. For instance, a senior lecturer at the institution was politely told to drop his phone with a security guard attached to the office as he awaited the Rector’s arrival.
That had been the state of affairs in the school since its chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, demanded a thorough investigation of the rector, Dr. John Taiwo Adekolawole. It was a crisis that began a few months after Adekolawole assumed duty.
A source in the school said the first thing the Rector did on assuming duty was to make some sweeping changes, including the removal of some key members of the institution’s staff. This, it was learnt, did not go down well with many of them, particularly those that were directly affected.
According to an aggrieved member of the staff, “when the rector came on board, all the duly elected deans of the schools were removed without any allegation.
“He did not stop at that; he also removed various heads of departments without any offence committed by them or an indictment by any committee.”
The foregoing was said to have resulted in a tiff between the Rector and a section of the institution’s staff, some of whom have accused Adekolawole of committing various infractions, including high handedness, favoritism and nepotism in the management of the affairs of the institution.
Since then, various petitions have been written, calling for investigation of the activities of the rector.
About two months ago, the School’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, in a letter dated June 8, 2020, had requested for thorough investigation of all the allegations levelled against Adekolawole.
The rector was alleged to have spent more than N2 million from the polytechnic’s purse to renovate his private residence.
According to a report submitted by a member of the ASUP in the school, “this is against the federal government regulation which forbids public servants from usingpublic funds for personal gain.”
It was also alleged that the rector used the polytechnic’s funds that could have been used on profitable ventures to procure ‘unprofitable awards.
According to the report, “within seven months of assumptions of office, how can the award of ‘Best Rector of the Year 2018’ be given in May 2018? He has been using the polytechnic’s funds to collect these awards from unaccredited organisations.”
The rector was also alleged to have violated extant Federal Government directive on procurement of TETFUND project vehicle and bus.
According to the report, Adekolawole was alleged to have failed to comply with the FG /TETFUND’s directive to procure a Toyota Hilux vehicle but procured a TATA Xenon Security Patrol Van and two TATA Xenon double cabin pick-up, being the project vehicle for 2016 TETFUND Special High Impact Project.
Again, the rector was alleged to have had TETFUND approval for the purchase of one 30-seater Toyota bus but rather went ahead to purchase a TATA 30-seater bus. The contract was alleged to have been awarded on July 22, 2019 in the sum of N68,932,678.00.
The several appointments and recruitments made by the Rector were also alleged to have been done in flagrant disobedience of presidential directives.
Adekolawole was said to have employed his direct son, Mr. Gooodness Edeaogbogun, and placed him on the Lecturer 11 cadre, which placed him above his contemporaries in the employment of the polytechnic before him.
An official of the school told The Nation that apart from placing his son above his contemporaries, the rector was also accused of “upgrading his wife, Olukemi Adekolawole from CONTEDISS 7 to CONTEDISS 9, backdating her promotion to the date of her last promotion, which was January 2017.”
Ironically, some months before the rector assumed office, the Junior Staff Appointment and Promotion Committee in a memo: FPE/JS/692/57, dated August 1, 2017 and signed by O. Adewoyin of the Establishment Affairs for the registrar of the institution to Mrs Olukemi Adekolawole, did not approve the promotion of the rector’s wife and advised her to seek further academic qualifications.
A memo written to Mrs Adekemi Adekolawole and made available to The Nation reads: “The Junior Staff Appointment and Promotion Committee at its 50th regular meeting held on 25th July 2017 considered you for year 2016 promotion in line with the revised 2013 scheme of service but did not approve your promotion due to inadequate academic qualifications.
“The committee thereafter advise that you seek for further academic qualification to enable you qualify in subsequent promotion exercise.”
To silence opposition, the rector was alleged to have used the instrument of state to harass those who had the temerity to question some of his decisions.
While one of the aggrieved members told The Nation that he would not comment on the incident, another source insisted that some ASUP members were invited by the DSS to their Osun office for questioning.
Another infraction committed by the Rector, according to a source at the federal institution, was manipulating the academic board to change the entry requirements for the purpose of admitting a candidate of the rector who had deficiency in English Language.
It was also alleged that the rector changed his name from Edaogbogun to Adekolawole in order to cover his past misdeeds.
“On different occasions, he was indicted and punished for sundry offences before he became the Rector of the polytechnic. One was where B.I. Okoji and Patrick Husseine chaired the panel. And in order to cover his past misdeeds, he changed his name to Adekolawole from Edaogbogun,” the source alleged.
Reacting to the allegations, Adekolawole said they were all “dead issues”.
He said: “There are no crises here. There is only peace. I think we should focus on positive things rather than dwell on distractions here and there.
“The school has made another technological breakthrough with its innovation.
“The school has produced its own ventilator which would be made available to the market soon. While imported ventilator goes for N35,000, we are going to sell to Nigerians at N20,000. We made everything here.
“Right now, we produce face masks, hand sanitiser and other materials to assist in the fight against Covid-19.
“Everything you see here, including the printing and furniture I’m using in my office are done in this school. We just won an award for innovation in far away Malaysia.
“Those are the things we should focus on; not the crisis. We don’t have crisis in this institution,” he told The Nation.
Insisting that he was not ready to engage in press war with anyone, he said the genesis of the whole disagreement was when one of the lecturers was probed and found to have engaged in plagiarism.
He said although the school was yet to finish its investigation, the said lecturer teamed up with some other aggrieved ones to engage the Rector.
Also speaking on behalf of the rector, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr Olusola Lawal, said the allegations levelled against the rector were mischievous.
According to him, barely six months, after Adekolawole assumed office as the rector of the institution in April/May 2018, a petition was written to the Minister of Education who set up a high powered committee of the Governing Council to investigate the allegations. At the end of the investigation, the rector was absolved of all the allegations.
Bringing up the same allegations that had been trashed in 2018 in 2020 is a rude shock.
Lawal believes that the recent allegations were the handiwork of one of the ASUP members that was being disciplined for committing infractions.
Reacting to the allegation of high handedness, Lawal said it could not be true as the Rector takes staff welfare as a priority.
“He converted/upgraded/re-graded over three hundred (300) staff that were wrongly placed,” he said.
On the sack of HODs when Adekolawole assumed office, Lawal said: ”It was wrong for an outgoing regime to appoint command officers for an in-coming regime. More so when the outgoing regime had resolved on the Academic Board that anyone who had not presented inaugural lecture should not hold academic leadership post. As at that time, all those elected had not presented inaugural lectures.
“So by the decision of the Academic Board, they lost their seat and the election became null and void.”
Lawal insisted that there was never a time the Academic Board was manipulated.
”The specific case referred to was when the number of students admitted for ND 1 in the Tourism Department was far below the requirements to make the programme viable in the countdown to already scheduled Matriculation Ceremony, and the Academic Board unanimously gave a waiver that any applicant into ND 1 in Tourism Department or willing to study Tourism with CREDIT PASS in Geography (a major requirement) but deficient in only one (1) subject requirement be given concessional admission but must make up the deficiency before graduation.”
On the allegation of appointment/recruitment, he said it was not true.
“Our Innovation Technology Centre (ITC) was set up as approved by the Governing Council. The six (6) pioneer staff for the centre were sourced for under the scarce-knowledge-area-skills to foster the innovation drive of the institution. The six (6) of them were sourced for, interviewed, appointed and placed on the appropriate level by the Governing Council.
“Mr. Goodness Edaogbogun was one of the six (6) that were so appointed to man the Institution’s Weather Station in addition to being a member on the Innovation Technology Centre (ICT) on merit. At the time of their appointment and even now, there are no alternatives on ground.
“The appointments were done before the Presidential embargo on employment in 2018.”
On the allegation that the rector’s wife Olukemi was wrongly promoted, Lawal said it was one of the issues the Rector addressed on assumption of duty to douse the crises emanating from inappropriate placement of staff.
He said: “The Rector’s wife had ND 2000 (Lower Credit), HND 2003 (Pass) and was employed into the services of the Polytechnic in 2013 on Level 05 and eventually migrated to Level 06.
“Before Adekolawole became the Rector of the institution, Mrs Adekemi was recommended for promotion and she was promoted to level 7. “
Lawal said with Mrs Adekolawole’s ND certificate, she was qualified for the promotion. He insisted that the issue of inappropriate qualification was as aberration and did not arise.
He said: “Within three weeks of the release of letter of inappropriate qualification, she received two or three other letters. The first letter stated that her non-promotion was due to some mixed-up in the Establishment Affairs Unit of the Registry while the other letter stated that her name was omitted in error in August 2017 before the Rector assumed office.
“Her promotion was later effected but her letter was not released to her until the rector came on board as the rector of the polytechnic. Meanwhile, she obtained B.Sc. (Accounting) 2nd Class Upper in June 2017.”
The school’s image maker said it was another misinformation that the rector used the fund of the federal institution to renovate his private residence. He said contrary to what was alleged, the rector did not receive any money from the polytechnic to renovate his house.
He said: “The Rector merely saved the institution the cost of providing accommodation for him by using his house as the rector’s official residence.
“The Works and Services Department customarily carried out some renovations under the normal renovation of roads and building votes at the rector’s residence.”
Lawal said there was never a time the rector was indicted and that all the allegations against the rector were later found to be baseless.
“Therefore, the then management was ashamed of the panel and their decisions and later directed that the report should be removed and expunged from all the polytechnic’s records, because it was legally adjudged as a miscarriage of justice.
“Bldr. Hussaini and Mr. Okoji later apologised to the Management and the then Director for their role in the ignominious report.
“It is rather unfortunate that a member of staff who should have destroyed his copy of the letter now brings it up from the archives after 25 years out of mischief, especially when the principal actors are dead.”
He said the rector changed his name from Edaogbogun to Akolawole for spiritual reasons.
He said: “The restructuring of his names was by spiritual injunction and personal, and was agreed to by his late father. All the names are really his, including Adekolawole, and were given to him at birth while Edaogbogun still remains the surname. He merely adopted Adekolawole, which is his name, as surname as customary with a crown prince above the age of fifty (50).”
The PRO told The Nation that while the rector had reordered his name, some people still prefer to refer to him as Edaogbogun. He cited a recent radio jingle of the school in which the rector was referred to as Edaogbogun. He said contrary to the belief in certain quarters, the rector did not violate any government regulation by altering his surname.
According to Lawal, both TETFUND and Bureau of Public Procurement duly approved the procurement of three TATA Xenon double cabin vans instead of one Toyota Hilux vehicle at the same price because of the high vehicular deficit in the Polytechnic.
Lawal said: “Both TETFUND and Bureau of Public Procurement duly approved the purchase of a TATA 30-seater Bus and a single cabin TATA Pick-up in place of a 16-seater Toyota bus all at same amount of N31,374,000:00 because of the high vehicular deficit in the polytechnic. These are cost saving measures that the Rector ought to have been applauded for if not for mischief.”
While many believe that ASUP as a body is against the rector, a source told The Nation that “ASUP members above Level 12 are not part of the shenanigan. Those against the rector are just doing so for not just cause.”
A source close to the school told The Nation that one of the prominent traditional rulers in Osun had waded into the matter, but whether he would be able to settle the crisis is what nobody knows.
So the question agitating the minds of many is who will stop this war of attrition at the Federal Polytechnic, Ede? When will it all end?