THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, AKURE
(OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR)
TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE MANAGEMENT AT THE PRESS CENTRE OF THE NIGERIAN UNION OF JOURNALISTS, AKURE ON THE CURRENT IMPASSE ON TUESDAY OCTOBER 11, 2016
As you are aware, the three non-teaching staff unions in this University (FUTA) namely: Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of the Federal University of Technology, Akure Chapter embarked on a protest on Thursday, 6th October, 2016 and on Friday, 7th October, 2016.
Management was taken aback, when the three unions rose from a joint Congress meeting held on Thursday, 6th October, 2016, without notice to the University Management, embarked on the protest calling for the removal of the Vice Chancellor and the Bursar, and the dissolution of Council. The Unions escalated and extended the protest to Friday, 7th October, 2016, during which time, they locked up the two Gates that lead to the University and barricaded the road to the Main Gate thus preventing movement of vehicles in and out of the campus. They thus forestalled normal university activities.
2.0 GENESIS OF THE CRISIS
Members of the fourth Estate will recall efforts made at resolving the issue of the complaints of the Unions on the University's efforts at implementing the Federal Government's directive on the ownership of Staff Primary Schools in the country. The Unions’ crisis is not unconnected with this matter of restructuring of the University’s erstwhile Staff Primary School in compliance with the Government policy and demand for an unapproved allowance they christened “Productivity Allowance Staff Welfare Package” to the tune of N360,000.00 for all categories of senior staff and N180,000.00 for junior staff in the University.
The other issue which the unions also hinge its protest upon is the invitation of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adebiyi Daramola to respond to a petition against the University Administration by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Now, let me briefly address each of these issues one by one.
3.0 THE FACTS
3.1 Restructuring of the University’s Staff Primary School
By a circular ref. No. NUC/ES/138/Vol. 60/194 dated 2nd September, 2014, the National Universities Commission drew the attention of all Vice Chancellors to the position of the Federal Government that Staff Schools are established as private enterprises to be funded by the institutions that establish them, and as such, the burden of the wage bill of staff in the Staff Schools should not be transferred to the Federal Government. Annexure I. This position of Government was further impressed and expressly conveyed to all Federal Universities by:
a. the Federal Ministry of Education by a letter ref. No. FME/SU/GEN/IVB/60 dated 21st April, 2015; (Annexure II),
b. a circular from the Budget Office of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance ref. No. BD/EXP/S.800/T/27 dated 29th September, 2015; which states that: “Personnel/Teachers of Schools affiliated to Institutions/Agencies (i.e. Staff Schools) should, on no account, be included in the nominal roll of such Institutions. Appropriate sanctions will be applied to defaulting agencies, as such action will be treated as willful introduction of ghost workers;
(Annexure III); and
c. a circular ref. No. NUC/ES/138/Vol.61/116 dated 29th January, 2016 the National Universities Commission reiterated the decision of the Federal Government in spite of the industrial action embarked upon by SSANU to demand Government reversal of the directive at that time. Annexure IV.
On this basis, the University disengaged the teachers in its Staff Primary School and opened the window for them to retain their jobs by applying for same under the services of the School’s Management Board. In spite of all efforts including the intervention of the University Governing Council, Religious Leaders and Elders in the University community, royal fathers and law enforcement agents including the peace meeting with the State Security Service at which far reaching decisions were taken in the interest of the disengaged staff, the teachers insisted they were not going to apply for their jobs. Records of the various meetings held with the teachers to shift their grounds but to no avail are available for references. Attempts to reopen the school since January have been truncated by both the unions especially SSANU and NASU and the teachers.
The implementation of the Federal Government directives by the University Management to the Unions is a major perceived offence of the Vice Chancellor in person of Professor Adebiyi Daramola.
2.0 DEMAND FOR PAYMENT OF ONE (1) YEAR PRODUCTIVITY ALLOWANCE WELFARE PACKAGE
At the time the Unions submitted its letter to the University Management resisting the proposed reopening of its Primary School for pupils on 16th September, 2016, the University also received another letter from the non-teaching Staff Unions jointly demanding for payment of one (1) year productivity allowance to the tune of N360,000.00 for each senior staff and N180,000.00 for each junior staff of the University based on the alleged approval of Council in that regard at its 97th Statutory Meeting held on Thursday, 24th May, 2012. (A copy of the letter is attached as Annexure V).
It is important to state affirmatively here that at no time did the University Governing Council approved such an allowance. At the meeting referred to, Council did not approve a part of the University Internally Generated Revenue for payment as staff productivity allowance welfare package as erroneously conceived by the unions. A major part of the decision of Council at that meeting is that “With the lean purse of the University, it would be pretty difficult, if not impossible, for the Management to accommodate the Unions’ demands beyond the palliatives already paid.”
On the receipt of the request, Management convened a meeting with the staff unions concerned but the meeting could not hold due to the request by the Unions for the rescheduling of the meeting and invitation of the Vice Chancellor at the time the meeting would have held on Wednesday, 5th or Thursday, 6th October, 2016, before they embarked on a protest.
The protest by the Unions is unnecessary. The University Management does not have the mandate to do the bidding of the Unions to set aside a part of the University’s Internally Generated Revenue to pay to staff as welfare package because it is contrary to Financial Regulations. Nonetheless, the issue could be resolved by dialogue.
3.0 VICE CHANCELLOR’S INVITATION BY THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION
Indeed, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adebiyi Daramola was invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and he appeared before the Commission at its Zonal Office Headquarters in Ibadan on Wednesday, 5th and Thursday, 6th October, 2016. Two non-teaching staff unions in the University could be fingered as having orchestrated the petition which was apparently based on the audit query issued to the university sometimes ago and to which the university was giving the required explanations.
The Vice Chancellor has written statements on the allegations most of which are spurious and others which arose out of lack of necessary information and understanding and supported his claims with some necessary documents to clear the air on the allegations.
It is the opinion of the University Management that since the Vice Chancellor has not been pronounced guilty by the law enforcement agent, EFCC he should reasonably and by the provision of the law of the land be adjudged innocent. The Unions cannot preempt the law enforcement agent or be the judge in their own case.
It is the opinion of the University Management that the law enforcement agent, EFCC should be allowed to do its job. The University Governing Council, and the University Management led by Prof. Adebiyi Daramola have consistent been mindful in management of men and material resources, prudent spending and accountability. This has culminated in the unprecedented infrastructural and academic development and international recognized that the university has attained under his leadership.
8.0 WAY FORWARD
The University Management has taken adequate steps to ensure the safety of lives and property on campus and there has been no report of willful damage to University property. Management has also stepped into the issue and it is hoped that the impasse will be resolved through dialogue in due course.
#Reposted From FUTA Facebook page.