Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Kayode Soremekun, recently hosted the president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Bamidele Akpan, in a bid to restore peace to the school’s campuses in Oye and Ikole Ekiti.
The NANS president met with the VC alongside other student leaders during which they discussed various issues, including lifting the ban on student unionism. They also reviewed the events that led to the killing of two students, Okunofua Joseph and Dada Kehinde, allegedly by security men in the convoy of Ekiti State First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, on September 10.
Akpan said the student leaders had met with the families of the slain students.
“You are not the cause. We have been fully briefed that you have been treating the students like your own children.
“We know the closure of the university was done to ensure that normalcy returned. We appeal that it is time to reopen the school, with the assurance that nothing bad will happen.
“The students are asking for streetlights, which will make movement easy for students at anytime on campus. They also want the availability of WiFi for stronger Internet connection.
“The SUG (Students’ Union Government) represents the entire students on the campus. Let us allow the SUG, in the interest of the school management. May I appeal to you to lift the ban on the proscription of FUOYE SUG.
“We also learnt of a sex scandal involving a professor, an ex-staff of the school and a female student. It was alleged that FUOYE management might have killed the case.”
In his response, Soremekun thanked Akpan for his mature presentation, noting that there was hope for the country.
“We are already working on power situation in the school. As terrible as this incident was, it has made people to be more conscious about what should be done as regards power, not only in our varsities but also in our surrounding communities. Already, there is 24-hour electricity on campus being run by generators. But the demand of students about power off campus is legitimate.
“Regarding streetlights, we intend to go into solar, but we need money for that. We only access very small money from the Federal Government and what we have is not enough. We are only supplementing that with fees from students.
“Our fees are low but the huge number of students can help. We will put the streetlights in place once students begin to pay. We will also ensure WiFi is properly put in place.
“We are having a meeting on how to strengthen the Internet system. I can assure you that, as soon as practicable, we will reopen the varsity. Incidentally, there are structural dynamics in running this place. If senate has taken an action, I have to go back to them to explain to them and persuade them. I am also under authority here but will speak with the chairman of the council.
“We are having the council meeting on the 3rd and 4th of October, where we will discuss the issue of reopening. What we did is to put the SUG of FUOYE on hold in order to reorganise and reassess the situation, to see if it is possible to engage in a paradigm shift.
“Even though, we have proscribed the SUG, I have been picking the calls of the executives and they can testify to this.
“About the professor who allegedly ravaged a female student, I will give you an account of what happened. When the issue was brought up, the then dean of Students’ Affairs set up a panel. Before I could act, we had a senate meeting in which many were very vociferous about the issue. I cautioned them not to overact so we would not be seen as prejudging the case, as members of the panel to probe the matter would be drawn from among them.
“If I wanted to save him, I would have allowed the senate to continue to vent their anger, because it would have amounted to prejudging the case. A good lawyer would have had the chance to extricate the offending professor. I subsequently set up my own panel, based on the rules of the university, and when I saw the findings, I was outraged and I decided to suspend the professor with a view to putting him before the staff disciplinary committee. At that point in time, he threw in his letter, which was odd, and when I consulted legal opinion, I was advised that I could not stop him. I then consulted the council, they said we should allow him to go as we could still recall him anytime we wanted.
“Shortly after that, we downgraded a colleague and we sensed that his credentials were not what they should be. Before we could act, he also quickly threw in his letter of resignation and according to university rules then, he also had to be allowed to go. It was then that it dawned on us that we had to recast our law because there was a lacuna that made such people to get away. We have since put measures in place to forestall a repeat of the development.
“I am a father of six daughters and I share deeply the pain of the poor girl. A well-known Reverend Sister in this university had also approached us on behalf of the girl’s parents and they pleaded that they didn’t want the case pushed further, probably to protect her image. But in spite of that, I still went ahead with the case. One of the government agencies is still investigating the matter and I have given them all the documents to assist them.”