By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
A mild drama played out at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) on Tuesday as two Non-Academic Staff Unions of the institution staged different rallies in favour and against the suspended Vice Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.
Oyewole, who has been charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged mismanagement of the institution’s funds has been suspended by the Federal Ministry of Education.
The suspension was conveyed in a letter, dated Friday May 5 and signed by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Dr. Hussaini Adamu.
Oyewole, whose five-year tenure expires on May 23, however, defied the letter of suspension and reported for work at his office on Monday.
But members of the local chapters of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) on Tuesday gathered separately within the campus, to express their support and opposition respectively to the embattled VC.
While NASU members converged on the open space in front of the Senate building to eulogise feats recorded by Oyewole and condemned his suspension by the Education Minister, SSANU members organised what they called “celebration of the inglorious exit of Oyewole”.
At the SSANU secretariat, a musician was on the band stand entertaining SSANU members while fried bean cakes (akara) and hot pap (ogi) were served to those in attendance.
Speaking at the event, SSANU Chairman, Olurotimi Fasuwon said, “The event was organised to coincide with the shameful end and unceremonious exit of Prof. Oyewole as Vice Chancellor of our once glorious university and to give a dossier of the backwardness which he brought upon the university”.
He also claimed that the VC’s tenure had brought anguish and pain to the staff, and also set the university back by more than 10 years.
According to him, “the university had over the years, enjoyed love, joy and happiness amongst the various categories of staff now lives in fear, hate and distrust courtesy Prof O.B Oyewole”.
But in contrary to SSANU’s claims, the NASU Chairman, Isiaq Odunjo, absolved Oyewole of any wrongdoing. He said NASU organised the solidarity to condemn the purported suspension of the VC.
He added that after critical study, examination and analysis of laws governing the university system in Nigeria, the union concluded that the suspension of Oyewole was “nothing but absolute illegality”
Odunjo, who described the action of the Minister of Education as usurping the responsibility of the university Governing-Council, pointed out “the said letter is manifestation of executive lawlessness and abuse of office on the part of the Minister”.
Meanwhile, the VC had sent a letter of protest to the Federal Ministry of Education to protest his suspension.