OAU, OOU flush out dons to reposition varsities
By SEGUN OLUGBILE
Barely two weeks after the governing council of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, sacked the institution‘s vice-chancellor, principal officers and about 15 lecturers for alleged ineptitude, the leadership of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, has relieved five of its lecturers of their positions for a similar reason.
Acting Vice-Chancellor, OOU, Prof. Soga Sofola
OAU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Michael Faborode
While the offences of the sacked OOU lecturers included mark boosting, alteration of results; presentation of fake Ph.D degrees and promotion without following due process, the offences of the OAU lecturers ranged from academic indolence, plagiarism to misdemeanour.
Other offences, allegedly discovered by the panel that recommended the sack of the OOU lecturers, included wrongful promotion and the inability of some of the lecturers to improve their academic qualifications 10 years after bagging their Master‘s degrees.
About a month ago, the council Chairman of OOU, Chief Alex Onabanjo, asked the Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Osilesi Odutola, the Deputy VC, Administration, Prof. E.O.A. Ajayi; DVC, Academics, Prof. O. Otolorin; and the Acting Registrar, Mr. O. Osinulu, to proceed on compulsory leave. The acting registrar, Mrs. Olajumoke Owotomo, alleged that the dons were involved in unethical practices. She also accused them of academic misdemeanour.
Investigations at the OAU revealed that the five lecturers lost their jobs for various offences ranging from plagiarism, job abandonment, ineptitude, globetrotting and alleged criminal tendencies.
According to the Public Relations Officer of OAU, Mr. Abiodun Olanrewaju, the sacked lecturers are, Dr. Ande Lamidi Kareem, Dr. Olusegun Fadiran, Dr. Edward Ogbonia Uche-Nwachi, Mrs. Victoria Abike Akalugo and Mr. Joshua Ayobami Ayeni.
Giving reasons for their sack, Olarewaju alleged that the lecturers flouted the law setting up the university. For instance, he said Ayeni, a Lecturer 1 in the Department of Computer Engineering, was sacked for plagiarism. ”You know that Ife is a first class institution that is well respected all over the world but unfortunately Mr. Ayeni sometimes in 2004, sent an article to an international journal based in South Africa.
”The article was published, but on January 10, 2005, the university received an e-mail from the publishers of the journal to the effect that the article was plagiarised. This is the height of academic fraud that a responsible institution will not overlook. So, the university set up a senate committee to look into the matter.‘‘
He said Ayeni was invited to defend himself, adding that the committee found him guilty at the end of its investigation. Though he was sacked this month, his salary was stopped in March 2007. ”But in reaching this conclusion, due process was followed, that is even why we are not having any problem with the Academic staff Union of Universities. All of us in Ife are for excellence and we are using this to send a clear signal that anybody that wants to work or study here must be ready to burn the midnight candle.‘‘
On why Akalugo, an assistant lecturer in the Department of Special Education and Curriculum Studies was sacked, the PRO said she could not provide evidence of progress on her Ph.D work since she started the programme over eight years ago. ”Her academic ability was nothing to write home about. In fact, her colleagues in the department and even students complained about her performance. It got to a stage that courses she meant to teach were withdrawn from her and given to other lecturers when it became obvious that she could not cope with the high standard expected from lecturers teaching in the university.‘‘
Olarewaju further alleged that Akalugo combined her teaching job at OAU with another one with the Ondo State Government. ”When the committee set up to try her case confronted her with this, rather than defending herself, she started employing various tricks to elongate the trial so as to perfect her plan to process her retirement with the Ondo State Government without the knowledge of the university,” he said.
Olarewaju added that the sacked lecturer was also involved in various acts that could tarnish the image of the university. A lecturer in her department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the academic incapability of the sacked don. He said the lecturer was in the habit of going in and out of police detention for cases that were not political. But efforts to get the comment of the sacked lecturer failed as most of the lecturers in the department said they did not know her whereabouts since her ordeals with the university started.
A staff of the Faculty of Education, who simply identified herself as Seun, said she deleted the lecturer‘s number when earlier calls to her mobile phone showed that the handset was permanently switched-off.
The other three dons, Ande, Uche Nwachi and Fadiran were said to have abandoned their duty posts while all efforts to contact them failed. Olarewaju said their actions violated Section 2 sub section 232 of the university regulation.
Before his sack, Ande, a senior lecturer in the Department of Cell and Morbid Anatomy, according to Olarewaju, allegedly refused to resume for duties after the expiration of his approved leave in 1991. ”He did not also apply for leave extension and efforts to contact him had failed and he has since failed to resume for duty,” he said.
The story of Fadiran of the Department of Surgery was similar to that of Ande. They were both sacked years after their salaries were stopped by the university. Efforts by our correspondents to speak with any of the sacked dons failed as nobody at Ife was ready to disclose their whereabouts.
Olarewaju also said that during their trial, none of the three that allegedly absconded from the university appeared before the various committees that looked into their cases. ”See, Dr. Uche-Nwachi left the university without approved leave in 1996 and failed to come back. On four different occasions, he was invited in 1998 but he did not turn up. The committee did not have a choice than to pronounce him guilty,‘‘ the university‘s public relations officer added.
He said that the university decided to embark on the academic cleansing in continuation of its renewed bid to reposition the university.
On why it took the university years before taking disciplinary action against the affected lecturers, the PRO said it was because the university wanted to give the affected dons ample opportunity to defend themselves. But he added that the institution did not lose any money during the period as the salaries of the dons were stopped years before their official sack.
”If they had been cleared by the various committees, the university would have paid them in arrears,” he said.
Efforts to get the Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Michael Faborode, to comment on the issue failed. Calls to his mobile phone were not answered while he did not respond to a text message sent to his phone.
But members of the academic community particularly lecturers commended the university for the action. A lecturer in the Faculty of Science, who pleaded anonymity, said since the affected lecturers were given fair hearing and there was no allegation of witch -hunting, the institution should be commended. At OOU too, members of ASUU and students backed the management‘s action.
The President, Students‘ Union of OOU, Mr. Emmanuel Bada, said the students supported the action because the sacked officers had done little to enhance the status of the institution as a university.