Read The Governor’s Response
Jamiu Folarin and Gafar Babalola
Lecturers of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY) have appealed to the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun to rescue the higher institution from imminent collapse due to paucity of funds to run the institution.
Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) of MAPOLY chapter, Mr Babatunde Osifalujo who made this appeal in an exclusive interview with Nigeria Meter asked Governor Abiodun for a special bail-out fund to offset six months salaries and keep the polytechnic running.
“We want to implore His Excellency to help us ensure that they pay our salaries, give us a special bail out so that we will begin to function very well, and lecturers don’t begin to collapse in classes, so that we can have money to come for lectures.”
Osifalujo who commended the governor for restoring the status of MAPOLY after over two years of uncertainties expressed optimism on the capacity of Governor Abiodun to deliver on his promises.
He however cautioned the governor against listening to political sycophants who will derail him from being just and tow the path of righteousness.
The ASUP chairman told Nigeria Meter the response he got from Governor Abiodun when he presented requests on behalf of the lecturers.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW
BABATUNDE OSIFALUJO is the Sub-Dean, School of Business and Management Studies, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY), Abeokuta and also the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, MAPOLY chapter. In an exclusive interview with Jamiu Folarin and Gafar Babalola of Nigeria Meter, Osifalujo speaks on the promises made by Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun on MAPOLY.
NM: Good morning sir, may we meet you sir?
OSIFALUJO: My name is Osifalujo Babatunde, the chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, MAPOLY chapter.
NM: We are representing Nigeria Meter and the focus of Nigeria meter is to document electoral promises made by public officers with the view at monitoring their fulfillment. Education is one of the focal point of the new Governor and he had made promises in relation to improving the quality of education in Ogun State. So, we selected you as one of the respondents to gauge the fulfillment of his promises. At first, let us congratulate you on the inauguration of the committee to assess the viability of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. What is your view concerning the inauguration of this panel by Governor Dapo Abiodun?
OSIFALUJO: Thank you very much, but let me quickly put the record straight. His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun before he was sworn in as Governor, after he had been declared the winner of the election and taking it to cognisance that there were issues concerning tertiary education in Ogun State, our team visited him and told him about our problems and our issues. Because the immediate past regime had decided on their own that they were going to upgrade Moshood Abiola Polytechnic into a University and the bill was passed by the Ogun State House of Assembly, but to our amazement at the point of implementing the bill, the government was doing contrary to that because the bill as said MAPOLY will transmute to become a University while the then proposed Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia is a new creation by that regime. They had a committee to do the transmission but unfortunately, they were doing their own bidding, which was not what government had put to plan. And as a result of that, we had serious issues in MAPOLY. We were not allowed to admit students despite the fact that we have an NBTE accreditation that says our accreditation will end in 2022. So at that point, we went to meet His Excellency. We told him our issues and we gave him a white paper and to the glory of God, we can confidently say that this present regime looks like a regime that would be a citizen responsive, listening to the complains of citizens and doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the masses enjoy. This is because we spoke to them and I can tell you that they are listening government so far, because just this Sunday, the pronouncement came after his Excellency and his team must have looked at the issues that we presented before them, do their fact findings. Even before he was sworn in, he had a committee on education and we have this privileged to meet with this committee and laid everything on the table, and they looked into it. So, just this Sunday, base on good practice and good governance as promise by His Excellency, he had to revert back, that MAPOLY should go back to status quo which we are happy because even as we speak now, Ogun State Polytechnic Ipokia is not ready and I can authoritatively tell you that the school does not even have accreditation as I speak to you. And also for Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology, the only thing that we know that that institution has is a name which is not even with JAMB. They have Vice Chancellor who does not have any student. They used to have a Governing Council which by the pronouncement of the last legislature, they also abolish all of them. So that’s why we said it is a welcome development. We are happy that the government of today under the able leadership of Dr Prince Dapo Abiodun, is doing the right thing and that’s why they have to say, let’s MAPOLY remain status quo ante, meaning we should revert back to what we used to do, continue to use our accreditation which will last till 2022. And permit me to also inform you that from the press release, the new committee that had been inaugurated is not for MAPOLY, they are to look into the viability and probably the sustainability of Moshood Abiola University and Ogun State Polytechnic Ipokia while MAPOLY, according to that press release is back to initial status.
NM: Alright sir, you had the opportunity of meeting with Prince Dapo Abiodun. So, what were the specific issues you raised to improve tertiary education in Ogun State and what were the specific promises made by Prince Dapo Abiodun?
OSIFALUJO: Well, am sorry may be I would be a bit selfish here, because when you are the head of a house and your house have issues, it will pay you first to resolve the issues in your house before you begin to look outside. So when we were privilege to meet his Excellency, we spoke to him about the problems and the about issues and possible ways forward on the crisis we had in Moshood Abiola Polytechnic. And as at that time, being a man of honor, what he told us was that:
“I can assure you that education is paramount in my heart and by the time I get to government, we are going to look at the issues holistically and we are going to take a quality decision that will better the people of Ogun State.”
And like I said earlier, I’m happy and I’m glad to say it now that they have done their home work and they have seen what is on ground and to the glory of God they have done the needful according to his promise. So far like I said, I will continue to say that this is a responsible and responsive government.
NM: What are the specific issues raised before the Governor?
OSIFALUJO: For example, at that point in time we told him that we don’t even know whether we are staffers of MAPOLY or staffers of MAUSTECH or staffers of Ogun Poly, and we come to work everyday not knowing our status because for example we were employed and the employment letter reads Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, the bill that was signed said we will transmute to MAUSTECH, later the body language of the government then, that is the government of Senator Ibikunle Amosun and the things they were doing was that they were going to transfer staffs of MAPOLY to Ogun Poly in Ipokia, and even until they left office, there was no official communication to tell us our status.
So, we told his Excellency, this is a factor. Apart from that salaries are being owed, what are you going to do to alleviate this? We lack infrastructural facilities, they need improvement. What are you going to do?And he actually made promises that he is going to look into all this things and they will treat all the issues on their merits and that’s exactly what they have done so far.
NM: What is your assurance, what is your view on the possible implementations of these campaign promises?
OSIFALUJO:Well, am sorry permit me to say this in yoruba. The Yorubas will say “bi Satide to maa loyin se maa ri ati Friday lati maa mo”. The major thing his excellency has done for us was to look at the issues on ground, at least for now I can go back and tell anybody anywhere in the world that I am still a staff of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic and every other staff in that school, we can now tell you authoritatively that we are staffers of MAPOLY. So, that’s something. Our status has been restored, so that shows confidence that every other discussion that we are arguing with, he will actually do it because first thing is that you must be able to identify yourself as a human being. It is when you have that notion that yes, “I am still living”, that’s when you can begin to aspire, and that’s when you can begin to think, that’s when you can begin to look for a way forward. So, with what he has done, we believe that the better things are yet to come from it.
NM: What confidence do you have in membership of the committee set up by Prince Dapo Abiodun to oversee what is happening at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic?
OSIFALUJO: I just told you again; maybe you are not conversant with the press release. That committee was no set up to look into the activities of MAPOLY but they have been set up to look at the viability and sustenance of Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology and also Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia. And frankly speaking, if you look at the membership of that committee, you will know that this is a government that is worth its onions. They actually look for professionals that are in that field, to actually carry out the assignment. You will see that the committee is chaired by the former Vice Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education, a seasoned person for that matter. You will also see in that committee, we also have a seasoned educationist who also happens to be a former Rector, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic in person of Alhaji WaheedAyinla Kadiri and other members. So that’s to tells you that this government has decided and they are doing the right thing putting the round peg in the round hole. I’m sure that the committee will definitely come out with something meaningful and positive that will help the entire citizenry of Ogun State. I don’t want to pre-empt their issues but of course I know we have quality members there that are equal and they are up to the task.
NM: Do you see the term of references given to the committee as all encompassing concerning your agitations and your demands?
OSIFALUJO: I just told you, they are to look into the activities of MAUSTECH. I don’t want to preempt them as I said. Possibly to look at it that can government afford to fund? If they want to fund, what are the procedural approach not like what we had in the past,
where somebody just wakes up in a day and say: “This place becomes a University now, now, now, now. All of you, you are university. Polytechnic it will take place before the end of my tenure, I will bring his Excellency, the President to come and commission,” an institution that is not ready, an institution that does not have an accreditation.
So, that’s why they are taking it step by step. So, that they will look at all these modalities, and if you want to establish a polytechnic, what are the procedural approach, advice government on how to go about it? It is not just going to about to inform the regulatory bodies that you want to start an institution and now use that as a process or as an acceptance of accreditation for those programmes? No! I know it is not the duty of that committee to tell the current administration. This is what you need to do to establish a polytechnic, these are the structures you need on ground, and these are the human resources capital that you need on ground. Do we have them in these two institutions? No of course, because we know. I repeat again No, emphatically No! Those things are not there and you don’t start a polytechnic without following due process. You don’t do things on sentiments and you don’t make pronouncement because you have connections where some people don’t have mouth there. But to the glory of God, today, I remember of our union have been telling the immediate past administration that they are not doing things rightly and today, to the glory God, we have been vindicated and we give all praises to God.
NM: Okay, concerning these demands, what would be the reactions of your Union if some of these demands were not met by the present administration?
OSIFALUJO: Have just told you, when you born a child, a child does not begin to walk immediately, there is a gradual process, the baby must crawl. The baby starts to put feet on ground to test the ground whether he can now stand firmly and when you stand firmly, you begin to walk and even when you want to walk, you take a step at a time, you cannot walk lifting or carrying your two legs at the same time. They’ve done the first one.
Of course government will continue to do their policies and as employees of government, we will also always continue to do our part and always continue to fight for the rights of our members. If they derail, we will also talk to them, but the major thing we have observed so far between this regime and the immediate past regime is that, one, the immediate past regime knows everything, they don’t listen to people, they don’t dialogue, even when we had issues with them, we went on air, we begged that they should please call us for a meeting. Let us dialogue, let us reason together.
We are the practitioners. We are the ones that are in there. Let’s tell you the way these things operate and they said no. They assume to know. Today, the records are there for everybody to see. This regime came barely less than a month, we spoke to them. We started talking to them when they won the election, we told them the procedures, they have gone to confirm. They have done their checks and they already started doing something. So by the grace of God we will continue to pray for them because even the scriptures say pray for your leaders, and you know when the righteous is governing, the people would be happy.
So, we will continue to pray for them, we would continue to do our bit and we would talk to them because we have seen them as a government that is willing to listen and we pray they will also not change.
NM: Sir, what future do you see for MAPOLY, MAUSTECH and Ogun State Polytechnic?
OSIFALUJO: Sir, I have told you earlier,
I’m a staff of MAPOLY, I don’t know anything about MAUSTECH, I don’t know about Ogun Poly, but to the glory of God I can tell you that the lost glory or the glory of MAPOLY that had been kept in the dark since 2017 has come back to the limelight.
Just on Sunday, the pronouncement was made, even before then, if you have been privilege to come to this campus, you will agree with me that this campus as turned to a ghost land, but cross my heart after that pronouncement on Sunday, just yesterday if you got to this campus, you will see that their is life on campus now. Yes, lecturers were being owed six months salaries but that notwithstanding because when that hope came, we now have trust, we started going back to classes, even when you came this morning I was also in a class you have to wait for me to conclude my lectures before you have this interview, despite the fact that we are still not hungry and that’s why I’m also going to make an appeal to the administration of his Excellency, Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun to also look into that area because we need to feed well, take care of our family and have the stamina to stand in front of the students to lecture the, so he should please.
I am using this opportunity to appeal to him to look into this issue because we have been deprived of admitting students for two sessions now and that affected our salaries. And as at when the last regime said they are going to do that, we told them, will you be willing to pick up our bills? And they said yes they will. But today, they never paid. They made promises and they failed, we pray that this regime will not tow that line.
NM: Your message to your members.
OSIFALUJO: Of course, I’m just a privilege servant of them all. They have been very supportive and want to continue to please asked them to be supportive, believe in our leadership, continue to guide us right and to continue to praise God because He has indeed answered our prayers and their is hope at last. And by our co-operation and the co-operation of the current administration, the glory of MAPOLY will be restored back.
NM:Your message to the Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun.
OSIFALUJO: Your Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun on behalf of the entire staff of MAPOLY, we want to say thank you for being just and right, for towing the path of righteousness and not bringing in sentiments, not bringing in emotions. We will continue to pray for you that your administration will succeed and we want to also continue to please ask sir that you should be mindful of politicians that are sycophants, remain focused. The good Lord will continue to help you and you will get to the promise land. You will take this state back to its enviable position in this nation.
NM: You are a major stakeholder in terms of tertiary education in Ogun State, what message will you be taking to the committee set up by Governor Dapo Abiodun?
OSIFALUJO: I don’t know why you keep asking me what am taking to this committee despite the fact that I have told you that we don’t really have problem with this committee, but of course if they invite us, we will go there, tell them our own little experiences that we have and because of the caliber of people that are there, that we believe in, that are also practitioners in tertiary education, we trust that they will do good job for this state. We don’t want a situation that we had like that of past regime. Can you imagine, Ogun State a State that is foremost in education, during the last administration could not get an indigene of this State to transmute MAPOLY to MAUSTECH, went to bring a foreigner. And even apart from that, brought somebody else that because of the magnanimity of this State gave them the privilege to serve this State? What do they do? They sabotage the effort of government. So, this ones, we believe in them, we trust them and we know they will do a good job for this State that we all can be proud of at the end of the day.
We want to implore His excellency to help us ensure that they pay our salaries, give us a special bail out so that we will begin to function very so that lecturers don’t begin to collapse in classes, so that we can have money to come for lectures.We want to continue to pray so that the good Lord that has made this regime under the leadership of his Excellency, Prince Dr Dapo Abiodun to start on a good note.