between TASCE and TASUED: hunting facts …witches…and beer parlour rantings

Between TASCE and TASUED: Hunting Witches, Hunting Facts and Beer Parlour Ranting
When Ogun State government said it was sending Visitation Panels and Fact-finding panels to the tertiary institutions in the state, there was no surprise for many at this level of education. The sector had been very troubled and the government had made it clear that they would sanitize. The names of members of the panels going to different schools were in the papers over one week before they were inaugurated. At every turn, workers talked about this as they anticipated and speculated. Finally, the panel come to TASCE on Tuesday September 20. There was a delay but they eventually arrived and went straight to work.
For the twin institutions named after Tai Solarin, there apparently exists a predicament that did not exist between any other pair of schools in the state. Over the years, since some of the staff of the University were moved out to run the College of Education in Omu, the animosity and anger over the manner of the exercise and the exercise itself has polarized the institutions and people that work there. As would be expected, arguments and counter-arguments have continued unabated over the years. The proceedings at the meeting of the panels with the people at TASCE finally institutionalized the issues that have been responsible for the cold war.
I have not personally found it difficult to relate with erstwhile (and in many ways, still) colleagues who work in TASUED. I have friends who work in TASUED who have become so close to me that they have become family. I meet them all the time and we maintain very close relationship. I also have had no problems sharing with other people who are not personal friends. I joined the TASUED Senior Staff Club albeit as an associate member and I have continued to enjoy the warmth of their friendship. I mention these because I do not want things I would report here to sound biased or anti- or pro- either parties.
This is, however, not to suggest that everyone has been accommodating or that everyone has had the same experience as I have had. There have been numerous complaints that even persons who know why they should not, have continued to think and proclaim people in Omu as being of poorer quality that those in Ijagun. I would previously have dismissed this with a wave of the hand until I had a personal experience. In front of the Co-operative Building, an older and senior colleague had told me he had not been seeing me at work. I said I was always there at work in Omu. He exclaimed in surprise and said, ‘but you are brilliant, why did they move you there.’ At that point, I had regretted that he was older than me. How I would have loved to give him a hiding for the way he chose to use his brain. Even the students in TASUED who were not there when the dis-articulation happened have it in their consciousness that the dis-articulation happened because some people could not cope with the demands of working in a university. This opinion sharply divides even friends and has continued to be fanned even by lecturers in TASUED to the chagrin of their erstwhile colleagues. In any case, Prof Oyeneye said as much in the first convocation after the dis-articulation that those who did not want to improve themselves have been moved out. How very dumb! Between the lecturers of the two institutions, everyone knows his place. We all went to the same institutions and we all meet at the same forums. We know who the idiots are and neither of the institutions has the lion’s share of teacher-type idiocy. What remains undeniable is that politics rather than reason came more into play when the dis-articulation happened. The loser remains the system and the professionals it produces. Wherever and whenever there exists a tertiary institution where the academic structure takes the back stand, way behind administrators and political opportunists, the best we can have is an academic supermarket. Wherever!
Anyway, the panel arrived. One of the things the chairman was keen to do after the members introduced themselves, was to explain the difference between a Visitation Panel and a Fact-finding Panel. In his opinion, the former is sent to a place where it is thought that the people there have done things that are wrong or should not have been done. The latter is sent to a place where it is thought that people have been wrongly treated. In other words, he explained that TASCE is seen not to have done anything wrong but much wrong has been done to TASCE. He also made it clear that they were prepared to listen to anyone. While debunking any suggestion that they were witch-hunting, he explained that they would not entertain any presentation that antagonized anyone. He held that instead, writers of memos would be helping more if they suggested ways of making progress and raising funds to finance the school.
Let me haste to squeeze in this detail. People have continued to express their fears that the panels are only acting a script. Some have come to conclude, for reasons not disclosed, that the government is only putting up a road show for the purpose of due process, and would eventually do what they have pre-determined. The panels in TASUED and TASCE have been quick to knock this down. The question is, if they were witch-hunting, would they admit it? Beyond that, there are whispers that the panel is OOU has its hands full and the one in TASUED is investigative. It is just grapevine, so do not ask me. We only heard that the TASUED panel chose to open their inquiry at the generator stand where it is rumoured that a generating set acquired for several millions has failed to work. True or false, I do not know but we also heard that the unions in TASUED (just as 3 unions in TASCE did) spoke with one voice. They were said to have been commended. It was apparent that they were backing their management. They were commended for this.
But my beer parlour critics and analysts did not quite think this a sincere commendation. Amid opening of new bottles of booze, they opine that the genuine questions could indeed be:
1. Should a unanimous support for management not raise severe curiosity and suspicion rather than reassure of peace? Who ever heard of unions (about four of them) agreeing with each other not to talk of agreeing with management in totality?
2. Are those the issues the panel came for? Did they come to take a poll of the mood, allegiances and temperaments among the working staff in the institution? ‘Working staff’? Of course. In a political institution, people ‘chop’ more money who do not work.
3. Are the real issues not with the management, away from the unions? For instance, would they not be more interested in how many people were employed since 2008 when Omu moved out; how many people got their jobs at the twilight of the last administration (their counterparts in civil service have been sacked); how much each academic programme is generating; where management got loans, how much and how they disbursed?
4. Would they not be wondering about the fine building with ‘despised and queer’ names, where they got them, who gave money, how much, who built and for how much?
5. One drunken partner asked about these courses like Petro-Chemical Education and Theatre Arts Education, ILR Education; what are they for?
6. Ahaaa! And what about that dud cheque Omu received, who signed it and why is he not in jail….?
that is if you are not yourself drunk enough to be making these crazy analyses like the ones you just read. But are these drunken rambling far from the truth? I do not know. I work in Omu.
Back to the Omu panel sitting.
In the gathering were the Provost, who was the lone member of management on the high table with the panel, and the leaders of the unions in the school (Academic, Non-Academic, Senior Staff and Technologists). Also in attendance were representatives of the host communities (Omu, Ibido, Jobore. Igbile was not represented). The provost gave a very brief account of how the school got to Omu-Ijebu. He was careful not to prejudice anything that would be information that the panel would discover for themselves. After the initial clarifications, the Chairman requested the parties at the sitting to present their memorandum if they had them. At least one community had written their and presented it. The unions came next. COEASU presented one and the trio of NATS, NASU and Senior Staff presented another. This was followed by another by the Alumni Association and then the Student Union Government. The Deans of the Schools in the College had earlier indicated that their positions would not differ from what their unions presented. Each of the presenters made a speech following their presentations. From their submissions, one could deduce some of the issues captured below.
 There was bitterness. The people in Omu are bitter about the circumstances that culminated in their coming to work in Omu.
 The dis-articulation that brought out over 400 workers from Ijagun was predicated on a lie that the NUC and NCCE said the schools could not co-habit. Simply stated, there was never such a statement. The dis-articulation was the brainchild of Prof Oyesiku and the people he served
 The disarticulation was done in very bad faith and following no meaningful pattern other than that of victimization and punishment for perceived wrongs. Lecturer who were completing their doctorate (and who have completed them now) were forced out while graduate assistants were allowed to remain
 The reasons given by the Management of TASUED were questionable since they moved out 400 workers and employed over 600 to take their places.
 The Management of TASUED had withheld the last batch of payments of the monetization benefits of workers moved out of TASUED. They had in fact issued a dud check to cover the payment.
 The Management of TASUED had also failed to remit money deducted from the salaries of workers moved out of TASUED to the respective pension fund administrators till date.
 No meaningful asset sharing had been permitted. In fact, property belonging to TASCE were held back, leaving the school in Omu to languish
 Money spinning ventures were seized by the Management of TASUED. Two of such being TASCE Secondary School and TASCE Staff School both in Igbeba. COEASU chairman had hastened to add that the schools were founded by TASCE staff some of who contributed money from their private purses to help the school begin operations.
 The Management of TASUED was fraudulently holding back the certificates of the UI affiliation programmes with the College of Education and was benefiting from the proceeds when the results are issued to graduates of the programme
 TASCE has lost 7 members of staff who were among the staff moved from Ijagun. They died from poor medical care occasioned by the refusal of the erstwhile government to pay their salaries.
 As it stands, the government owes over 13 months in salaries and over 23 months in arrears of salaries. Staff in Ijagun are neither owed such salaries nor are they owed the arrears which they have in fact received.
 This is not all, but these are all that my stretched brain can recall now.

From the events of the sitting and the reaction of the staff, it was apparent that they were still very bitter about events of the last three years. It was also clear that they wanted to see this redressed. Whereas no one was spelling out conditions, it was more than once mentioned that the doors needs to be reopened so that persons who wished to return to status quo could do so, while making sure that the College of Education found justice. Matter if fact, it was clear that if the door was thrown open for people to return to their offices in Ijagun, not everyone would want to do that.
So, was it all about TASUED, disarticulation, money and anger? Well, not quite. There were also issues of how to make sense of the school but that is for another day.
After the Provost rounded off the session, the aftertaste was not one of anger against any but that of expectation that finally a third party would look into the issues that have bedeviled the school. There are many submissions I could make on account of the issues I have reported but I refrain. Perhaps as things develop, I might come back to say what I think.
I hear more bottles popping around me. These people will drink themselves to death someday.

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