From Kehinde Adewole
Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE),Professor Kayode Soremekun has said that incessant strike action by various unions is killing the University system in Nigeria and making the system unable to compete favourably well with the University system across the global community.
He therefore, urged all stakeholders in the Nigerian University system, particularly the federal government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to work towards urgently resolving industrial disputes without the option of industrial strike actions.
He said: “The Nigerian varsity system has been over unionzed. Although, unionists have genuine cases. But it is better for all sides to come together to ensure that unionism assume a different approach. The University has a global connection and where there are always crises that affects the global nature. It kills the system here.
“ASUU as an idea is a fantastic one, but as an embodied of humans is the real issue. The over unionism proves to be very dangerous to our University system. That is a major problem that we have. We hope that sooner than later all parties would turn a new leaf and see that we are all stakeholders in the enterprise called Nigeria. I don’t want to blame anybody. ASUU should be more concerned about the welfare of their colleagues, especially retired ASUU members .”
Soremekun also reacted to allegations of manipulating recent and on-going recruitment excercise without considering interest of host communities. He denied the allegation, saying: “For the sake of clarity we are talking of a Federal University and so we must strive for the federal presence, for justice and fairness for all parties. For the years the FUOYE has been here federal resources have been put here for the use of all and to that extent, the University isn’t a state University. It must refkect the federal character.”
While responding to another news report about allegations of illegal recruitment and financial misappropriation leveled against him by ASUU, Akure zone and one Biodun Omonijo, he said: “l hope you have read the last news report , fuoye lecturers have disowned ASUU, when you have a union and your members are now disowning you, that means you don’t have a union again. The lecturers here have also disowned those effusions against me from the ASUU zonal branch in Akure, Ondo State.”
Prof Soremekun further told newsmen about his challenges as VC, FUOYE, saying: “A major challenge has to do with the fact that many don’t even know what a University is. Many don’t know that a University should be a place for the consternation of ideas. Trying to drive a process whereby the University idea can be sowed and nurtured has been a major challenge here. The university idea is a good environment for disagreement but we can disagree without being disagreeable. Anyone that wants to succeed must be conscious of the need to nurture the university idea. It should be about dialectical variables.
“Another challenge is funding. The government in view of its numerous responsibilities cannot find education alone, it has to be a cooperative venture between and among all stakeholders. Government pays salaries, tetfund, and put in resources, other stakeholders should come forth by putting in something, parents, local government authorities and others.
Because of the relative low fees many Nigerians prefer getting admitted into the public tertiary institutions. Private varsities aren’t doing too well because there is a demand for their services but such demand isn’t an an effective one. This is because very few people can only afford their fees.
“We also have challenges of a near pioneer status, I am the second substantive VC here and we have to strive very hard to put infrastructure in place. We have been able to execute nearly 80 projects spread across the two campuses of Ikole and Oye. A committee has been put in place to establish a full college of medicine in this university. “
The out-going VC observed that a news report that recently rumoured that he was training some people in Oye for alleged rigging for All Progressive Congress (APC) in last Edo governoship poll, was not only a fake news but has also rubbished the image of the blogger.
” When I read that story alleging that I was training INEC officials in Oye to rig Edo polls, I was in Lagos, while the training was taking place in Ikole in Ekiti State .
What most people don’t know is that INEC these days publish names of those they would use prior to the polls. As a matter of fact, I have taken part in two gubernitorial polls for INEC in this country, one was won by APC the other was won by PDP, so where lines the partisanship allegation?. Publishing such lies against me only put to question the credibility of such a blogger.
“Part of the problem is that we are not too concious of our history, the Nigerian press had played a very major role in getting democracy but since then we have witnessed a degeneration in the practice of journalism in this country.
The media has done a wonderful job in midwiving Nigeria into existence they should also do a good job in ensuring wholesomeness in post Nigeria era. I also urge media enterprenurs to ensure they pay their reporters well.”
Asked what he would have loved to do if given more time as VC, he said: “The only academic who has finished his work is a dead one. To that extent there will always be something to be done. A university by its very mature is supposed to keep expanding.
Anytime I think of my life here I always remember OAU because I got admitted into OAU when the University was 10 years old just like we are 10 now. There will always be something to do here but we are laying the foundation. We want to put in place faculty of basic medical sciences. I would have loved to start a centre for Energy studies. But I cannot do that from now till February. “
Soremekun also clarified on the rumour making the rounds that the University may not be enjoying a good rapport with host neighbouring communities:”People do not understand the issue of neighbours. Anywhere in the world neighbours always have phases of conflicts. It is a normal dynamics. Neighbours by their various nature in international community are always having issues and they will also settle.
” However, most of our neighbours are always writing to us to have our presence in their communities by siting centres for our external programmes there. They want admission, they all want our presence in their communities and to us it is a good thing because it attracts commerce,” he said.