By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
The crisis rocking the Ogun State-owned Polytechnic, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY) over the government’s decision to upgrade the institution to a University on Monday took a worse turn as the government sacked the Polytechnic’s Rector, Professor Oladele Itiola.
There is an on-going face-off between students, lecturers of the institution and the State government over the conversion of the 38-year-old Polytechnic to Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology (MAUSTECH), Abeokuta and establishment of a new Polytechnic, Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia.
The students are insisting that the decision would delay their education since infrastructure is now being put in place for the new institution at Ipokia.
The lecturers on the other hand are entertaining fears that the development would affect their career progression as the government is insisting the the lecturers should re-apply for employment in the new University.
Itiola whose tenure was supposed to end later this year was asked to proceed on terminal leave while Mr. Ayodeji Salimon Tella was appointed as the new Acting Rector with immediate effect.
Giving the reason for his sack, the government in a three-paragraph statement, issued by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa, stated, “As part of the general transition programme involving Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta and new Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology (MAUSTECH), the State government has appointed, Mr. Ayodeji Salimon Tella as the Acting Rector of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta with immediate effect.”
The erstwhile Rector, Professor Oladele Itiola is to proceed accordingly on his terminal leave. The State government wishes him the very best in his future endeavours and thank him for his services to the good people of the State,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, students in the State, under the aegis of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) protested against what they referred to as the worrisome and poor “state of Education in the State”.
Among their grievances were the cancellation of payment of West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) fee of Senior Secondary school students by the government, increased Acceptance fees by the management of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye from N40,000 to N50,000 and controversy surrounding the re-location of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta to Ipokia.
The aggrieved students accused the State government of poor funding of the Education sector which according had stiffled the development of education n the State.
They also berrated the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration in the State of reneging on his campaign promises of the free education from the primary and secondary school levels.
The placards carrying students began their protest march from the Nigeria Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) fuel station, Abiola Way, Abeokuta to the Governor’s office, a distance of about one and half kilometres where Governor Ibikunle Amosun addressed them.
Some of the placards read, “Save Ogun State education”, “Education must survive” and “Mapoly must survive”.
They expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to cancel the payment of WAEC fees and demanded immediate reversal of the decision.
The students who also lamented an increment in the of ‘acceptance fee’ of the State-owned University, insisted that the fee was too much compared with what students of other State-owned Universities pay.
Again, they decried the “delay” in the commencement of the examination of MAPOLY students due to the current face-off between the lecturers and the government as a result of the re-location of the institution, saying the situation would affect the career of the students.
They tagged their action, “Rescue Ogun State Education Campaign (ROSEC)”.
The Chairman of Ogun State chapter of NANS, Comrade Olawale Balogun, told the Governor that they were not happy with the state of education in the State and urged the government to address the issue as a matter of urgency.
On the students fear about the fate of the present students at MAPOLY because of the re-location, Amosun assured that students who are currently running various programmes at different levels would finish their studies, insisting that no student would be taken to Ipokia.
The Governor told the students, “I am not happy about what is happening in MAPOLY now because this my school. What is happening today is because those that have been given the privilege to serve us are not serving well”
“Everybody here (current MAPOLY students) will finish their courses, it will take four years before MAPOLY will go into extinction, You are not going to Ipokia . If the lecturers don’t want that, we will sort them out”
On the University and new Polytechnic, he said “We will sort for new lecturers for the university and the new Polytechnic. Mapoly lecturers are not comfortable with it, I said the appointment they have is for MAPOLY, for the new University, they will have to re-apply. If they are qualified, they will be employed”.