By Wale Adedayo
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, got it wrong by scrapping the Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED). The ‘facts’ being churned out by the Government’s information management machinery do not add up. And, sadly, it is now very clear that the current Administration in the state is being economical with the truth concerning TASUED. It is the second time a major occurrence like this would happen in the life of a Government that promised to do away with the ziggy approach to governance of the immediate past Administration.
The first ziggy of SIA’s Government was the fallacy about the need to build a multiple lane expressway in a neighbourhood that already had a dualised road in Abeokuta instead of using the same resources to open up the Abeokuta – Ibadan Road properly. SIA may not have realized the role played by the dualised Shagamu – Siun – Abeokuta Road in boosting economic and social activities in Abeokuta as the number of vehicles and people entering and leaving the city increased many folds with less automobile accidents on a daily basis. Even if given to OGROMA, opening up the Abeokuta – Ibadan Road properly as it was done with the Shagamu – Siun – Abeokuta Road would have, within two years, turned Abeokuta into a different place – positively – in terms of social and economic activities. Unfortunately, SIA’s N2.4 billion very short and unnecessary road expansion work in the heart of a well-developed township has already led to the demolition of many homes and commercial spaces all in a bid to ‘rival’ what the disgraced former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, did to dualise the Oke Ilewo Road. But let’s leave this matter for another day, and face the ill-advised scrapping of TASUED for now.
It is important that we address some of the major points being bandied by SIA as the reason for scrapping TASUED:
- 1. “TASUED has significantly deviated from the objectives of establishing it as stated in its enabling law. See Statute 13 of the Schedule to the Tai Solarin University of Education Law 2008. Also, see list of non-education related courses offered by the TASUED. The institution offers courses such as Telecommunications, Petroleum and Chemical Sciences, Industrial Chemistry, Transport Planning and Management, Mass Communication, Industrial and Labour Relations, Tourism, Accounting and Business Administration among others. The institution’s authorities find it difficult to define the relevance of these aforementioned courses and others to the Education Purposes which the University was set up to serve.”
Did SIA find out what obtains as per courses from the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana? Did the Governor do an assessment of courses at the Teachers University, Columbia, USA among others? In Nigeria today, the body in charge of approving courses remains the National Universities Commission (NUC). SIA’s Government should let us know if there is ANY academic programme of TASUED that is yet to be accredited by the NUC. In addition, apart from the NUC accreditation, is there any course that does not have relevant equipment, materials or building to house its students? However, the incontrovertible fact is that ALL academic programmes of TASUED have been accredited by the NUC, while the same thing cannot be said of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye. Besides, there are supporters of SIA who have not being to TASUED in recent times. Such persons still have the image of the old Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE) on their minds. They will do well to pay a visit to the school and compare it with any other university given its short period of existence. Of course, the school towers above OOU in terms of infrastructure and equipment, mostly due to the vision of its founding Vice Chancellor, Prof. Kayode Oyesiku.
- 2. “Example of the fact that the proliferation of schools has led to underfunding and lack of necessary facilities for academic work is evident in the fact that when the Senator Ibikunle Amosun government came into office on May 29, 2011, many of these institutions were owing salaries of between nine and 13 months. Even TASUED authorities had to resort to borrowing about half a billion Naira which it expended on salaries and not on capital projects.”
It is true that the schools owed banks money. But as pointed out earlier, SIA should have spared the residents of Ogun State this deliberate effort to paint TASUED black. The Governor should have put a context to his ‘fact’. It is pure mischief and ziggy of the highest order to lump TASUED with the other institutions. Yes, TASUED took a loan of N500 million from two banks. But SIA’s Government failed to inform the public what the money was used for. But before we get to what the money was used for, it is important to know that TASUED generates at least N1 billion annually. The school remains very solvent to the extent that towards the 2011 general elections, the current Vice Chancellor of TASUED, Prof. Segun Awonusi, released funds running into millions of naira to OGD’s Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) to prosecute that election. Of course, other higher institutions in the state also boosted the campaign funds of the PPN, but being the most solvent among them all, TASUED contributed the most. The funds were in addition to the usual monthly runs usually paid into the coffers of the disgraced former governor by these institutions. These were proof enough that TASUED was solvent and a very viable higher institution.
On the N500 million loan which TASUED sourced, it took the Council of the university more than one year to approve the new salary package approved for university teachers. The disgraced former governor, knowing fully well the financial capacity of the university, pleaded with its management to source for the funds which he promised the state government would pay later. And till date, only TASUED has paid that package. So, it is very wrong to assert from this premise that TASUED was in debt, thus the need to close down an ‘unviable’ university. TASUED gets N61 million monthly subvention from Government, while Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta gets N62 million. OOU gets N134 million for the same period. TASUED, through the astute planning put in place by Oyesiku, continue to produce some of the best graduates in this country using contacts that were impressed by the school’s academic goals to get much-needed infrastructure in place. If others are unable to do the same thing either through poor planning, greed or myopia, why should those who have brains be punished for the sins of the brainless?
- 3. “You also need to note that since the establishment of TASUED, the Faculty of Education in OOU has been seriously underfunded and the quality of education has suffered. Now, we can rationalize and effectively manage the structure that will provide quality teachers for our secondary schools.”
This is sad coming from our Government. It shows that those in charge of affairs for SIA do not have ANY idea at all about the educational problems of Ogun State. How can ANY sane person argue that “since the establishment of TASUED, the Faculty of Education in OOU has been seriously underfunded and the quality of education has suffered”? What kind of argument is that? Is it because of TASUED that students who graduate from OOU do not go for the compulsory NYSC until after about three years? Is it because of TASUED that OOU students hardly get their examination scripts assessed until months after their examinations? What is the ranking of OOU right now, and what is that of TASUED? A Government worth its salt should not be bandying these kinds of statements as ‘facts’. It is just not right.
It is very possible, as pointed out earlier, that those pushing for the scrapping of TASUED do not have an idea about the state of education in Ogun State. But more than that, it is also likely there is another agenda behind this move. Whichever one it is, SIA should remember the process that made him Governor. Those feeding him lies in the name of policy will not be there when the people talk with their votes in 2015 – that is, if he is at all interested in a second term of office. The unnecessary demolition of houses in Abeokuta is already a source of concern to genuine party members in terms of future elections. Adding the issue of TASUED among others to it should be a clear signal to the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Ogun State that it is time to reign in a Government that is supposed to be a different one from that of the immediate past.