Over one month after the Ondo State Government released for immediate implementation, the reports and recommendations of the Visitation Panels constituted last year by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, (SAN), to all the four tertiary institutions in the state, the documents are yet to be handed over to the institutions’ Governing Councils.
It was learnt that the failure of top government’s officials and appointees to obey the governor’s directive had already been causing victimizations and maladministration in the affected tertiary institutions.
Akeredolu had in November 2017, constituted visitation panels to probe activities and operations of four state-owned tertiary institutions namely: Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo (RUGIPO), Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa (OSUSTECH) and Ondo State University of Medical Sciences, Ondo (UNIMED); and their reports had since been submitted to the governor in January, 2018.
It took Akeredolu’s government another six months to announce implementation of the panels’ recommendations, claiming that the reports had been handed over to the Governing Councils of the affected institutions but such can not be confirmed.
According to one of the staff of the institutions, Mr Ipinlagba Jones, “since on July 2nd, 2018, when the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Dr (Mrs) Olawumi Ilawoye told journalists that the State Executive Council’s meeting had approved the recommendations as part of the moves of the Akeredolu led administration to reposition the four institutions in the state for optimal performance, nothing to show for it, the governor has refused to hand over the reports to the governing councils”.
“Many stakeholders in the education sector seem to be losing confidence and trust in the Akeredolu-led government over his cold feet in the handling of the recommendation of the Visitation panel report for implementation”.
He said, “Information has it on a good authority that the recommendations were expected to contain issues ranging from repositioning of the various institutions, maladministration of the university, financial issues as regards petitions, over bloated employment into the institutions even under the watch of the present administration”.
Other expected recommendations border on cooperative societies’ deductions, school fees, student welfare.
Ipinlagba said, “Staff issues, including illegal/unwarranted termination of appointments, withheld promotion, victimization and witch-hunting, and various matters surrounding the re-absorbed staff. Of importance are subventions to the University and spending, award of contracts, inflation of contracts, financial recklessness, incompetency, moral ineptitude among others”.
A labour leader at RUGIPO who also pleaded for anonymity, lamented that, “Unfortunately, the report which stakeholders believed would have finally laid to rest, many of the problems bedeviling higher institutions in Ondo state, are now being jettisoned by the governor who had promised to reposition the education sector for better service delivery”.
“As at today, recent happenings in various institutions in the State call for concerns as most workers are now living in fear of being victimized after submitting papers and memoranda to the visitation panel teams, we are now under threats and fear”.
Another staff who pleaded anonymity, said, “a good example is a senior officer in the Bursary Department in one of the Institutions (AAUA) who was locked out of his office as a result of the letter he was said to have submitted to the visitation panel”.
“Another senior officers official car was also withdrawn for the same reasons. There were also numerous cases of lopsided redeployment of staff who were perceived not belong to the managements unpopular side”.
“The situation in one of the institutions is even pathetic as many of the staff are living from hands to mouths because of the inability to get paid by the management. The inability to procure drugs for their different ailments and diseases has now led to the deaths of many members of staff”, He said.
The governor’s S.A. Ilawole said the council had looked into the recommendations of the panel on compliance of the institutions, financial management and staff development programme.
She said a committee was set up to review the recommendations contained in the panel report, noting that some of the areas that the visitation panels looked at and which white paper has been drafted and approved today bothered on the state of compliance of the Universities and Polytechnic with the approved status and programs and the laws that backed them up.
“This is to ensure that they properly position and they deliver quality education to the citizens of Ondo State. Also, we try to look at the financial management of the Universities. We looked at subventions, and how adequate are the subventions and what the government is doing in order to improve on the income and revenue of these Universities”.
She said, “We also looked at the adequacy of staff. We looked at staff development program and a lot of all these recommendations will soon be out to use. It will be sent to the governing council of these state-owned institutions for implementation and in no short times, we are very sure, according to the vision of this administration, our four state institutions will be repositioned for optimal performance.”
Observers and analysts are of the opinion that the anticipating release of the recommendation to the council chairs for implementation seem to be a bridge too far as the body language of the government seems not to look at the direction of the stakeholders in the education sector.
It is believed that things would continue to get worsened than envisaged if the Akeredolu’s government continues to pay lips services to critical issues as demonstrated in the implementation of recommendations of the reports of the Visitation Panels on Ondo State-owned tertiary institutions.