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« on: April 28, 2009, 06:14:26 PM »
  Controversy trails OOU VC?s forced vacation
By Segun Olugbile

The decision of the Ogun State government to force the Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Prof. Odutola Osilesi and three principal officers of the institution on compulsory leave is generating controversy in the institution. Also, tension has gripped the workers of the university as the new governing council has decided to right-size the workforce by reducing the number of senior workers of the institution in line with the recommendation of a visitation panel set up by Governor Gbenga Daniel.

Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Odutola

The Chief Alex Onabanjo-led Governing Council had directed the four principal officers of the institution to proceed on compulsory leave following the recommendation of the visitation panel. The panel also called for far-reaching measures, including the appointment of quality leaders, for the university to move forward.

The Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe-led panel, set up by Governor Gbenga Daniel had in its report silently indicted the leadership of the university for the lack of progress of the institution.

The panel also recommended that some faculty members, who gained employment into the institution with dubious and fake Ph.D certificates should be sacked. It also advised government to ensure the designation of officers in line with what obtains in other universities.

Less than three hours after inauguration, the new council sacked lecturers with fake Ph.D certificates and asked Osilesi, his two deputy vice-Chancellor, Prof. E.O.A. Ajayi; and Prof. O. Otolorin; and the Acting Registrar, Mr. O. Osinulu, to proceed on compulsory leave.

The council also named Prof. Soga Sofola from the University of Lagos as the acting vice-chancellor even as it started the process of staff rationalisation.

For instance, the council has decided to reduce the workforce by reducing the number of deputy registrar?s position from 17 to seven.

Investigations by our correspondent showed that most universities had fewer number of deputy registrars. For instance, 47-year-old University of Lagos has nine deputy registrars, while the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State has five.

But opinions of stakeholders are divided over the reason for these actions, particularly the forced leave slammed on Osilesi and others. While some believed that Osilesi?s travail was politically motivated, others claimed that the VC by carriage and comportment was not in control of the 30-year-old institution.

Others accused Ibidapo-Obe of masterminding Osilesi?s forced vacation to pave the way for Sofola who was his deputy vice-chancellor, (Academic) at UNILAG.

Though some of the stakeholders that spoke with our correspondents pleaded anonymity, they insisted that the unceremonious manner the principal officers were asked to go was faulty. ?If the panel had found them guilty of any misdemeanour, they should not just ask them to go on forced leave, rather they should hand them over to the police for prosecution. Since nothing of such has happened, I still believe that the governor was the one at the background victimising them,? one of them said.

However, another senior don blamed Ibidapo-Obe. He said, ?Ibidapo-Obe has been working to make Sofola the vice-chancellor before he completed his term at UNILAG, when that failed, he brought him here. Are they saying that there are no qualified professors here to act even if Osilesi has to go?? But Ibidapo-Obe denied this. He said, ?It is incorrect that I recommend the leave for the OOU VC to pave the way for Sofola, ?my friend? as that aspect is not part of our terms of reference in any case. Please you can get a copy of the report and study for facts.

?We did not also recommend that Osilesi should proceed on leave. However, Sofola has had a sabbatical relationship with OOU in the past and in fact assisted in building the erstwhile reputation of OOU Medical School. I believe the council made a good choice,? he said.

Ibidapo-Obe also denied that the panel was responsible for Osilesi?s travail. According to him, the man has only gone on leave. He added that the panel did not find him guilty of any corrupt act.

He said, ?Osilesi was not sacked! He was requested to proceed on leave and that is why the university currently has an acting VC.

?To the best of my knowledge from our recommendations, the action was not as a result of corruption neither was it political. It is simply a need to reposition the university to re-attain the leadership role in the Nigerian university system, which it occupied in not too distant past.?

A deputy registrar, who feared that he might be affected by the re-designation of deputy registrars and those promoted above their positions, said that tension had gripped most workers in his position.

But a source close to the chairman of the council, who pleaded anonymity, said that the university was not planning to sack workers. ?But I can tell you that any promotion done without due process will be revoked. The council is determined to reposition the institution without inflicting pains on dutiful workers,? he said.

He admitted that the council asked Osilesi to proceed on leave because of his inability to provide the kind of leadership needed to raise the standard of the institution. ?He is a good man but a good man or a good leader that lacks the courage to make hard decisions cannot make progress and the state government is in a hurry to change the face of OOU,? he said.

A member of the university council, Mr. Sina Kawonise, had expressed similar view while addressing the press on the new development last Wednesday. He had said that the new chairman, being a private sector person was determined to move the university forward.

The council is planning to meet on Wednesday (tomorrow) to discuss on the implementation of the government White Paper on the running of the university.


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« on: April 28, 2009, 06:14:26 PM »

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