* Calls for steadfastness until victory is achieved
* Demands the intervention of the Federal Government for proper auditing*Calls for the solidarity support of the Students’ Union and other sister unions
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Ondo State Chapter supports the ongoing strike and protest at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) by the members of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) against the corruption and various anti-worker policies of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Gregory Adebiyi Daramola and Bursar, Emmanuel Oresegun of the institution.
The protest started on Thursday 6th of October after the VC and Bursar of the institution were invited by the EFCC on Tuesday4th of October following the fraud and corruption allegations leveled against them by the Staff Unions which include, but not limited to the refusal to pay their long-term allowances. The Staff Unions are calling for the removal of the V.C. with immediate effect and that the Federal Government set up a panel to audit FUTA account.
According to the Staff Unions, the VC, together with the Bursar has
siphon and fritter away the treasury of the university on frivolous gifts and
fraudulent transactions including allowances made to the Governing Council
members, inflation of properties cost, illegal duty traveling allowances and
diversion of intervention funds.
The petition to the EFCC contains documents showing the various financial misappropriation by the VC. As reported by Sahara Reporters, the contents of the document are;
1. Misapplication of personnel cost allocation amounting to N13,324,012
2. Housing allowance paid to the VC while in government house - N3,851,730
3. Use of public funds to finance private expenses – N4,147,000
4. Irregular payment of allowance to council members – N1,500,000
5. Excessive cash advance amounting to N8,882,540
6. Direct procurement of motor vehicle without approval/waiver from BPP – N78,450,750
7. Transfer of fund for fixed deposit – N100,000,000
To us in the ERC, this is not the first time that a University management will be alleged of siphoning the institution’s treasury thereby depriving the staff unions of their allowances and financial entitlements. In fact, corruption has become a norm in the University system and in the managements of other academic institutions. Just recently, workers at the Obafemi Awolwo University had to down tools and protest for similar reasons. The ERC considers corruption as an obstacle towards the development of public education in the nation which must be eradicated not only in FUTA but in every other tertiary institutions nationwide. This is why we campaign for democratic running of Universities and other academic institutions through the involvement of elected representatives of students and staff in their decision-making organs.
Hence, ERC calls on the protesting Unions never too relent halfway but continue with their struggle “uncompromised” until all their demands are met.We also challenge the FUTA Students’ Union led by Olusegun Oladele Solar to support the struggle of the staff unions and use it as an avenue to demand a better learning and welfare conditions for the students of the institution and also to ensure that the demands of the Staff unions are adequately met. Students must also be involved in the struggle to ensure that the needs of the Staff unions are met immediately so that the school can resume as soon as possible. At the same time, we call on the other sister unions to start their solidarity support for the affected Unions as one tree cannot make a forest.
While the on-going strike and protest can be vital in compelling the federal government to take some steps and the anti-corruption agencies to diligently probe the allegations against the FUTA administrations, workers must not for a minute believe the illusion that any capitalist government can be seriously interested in ridding the education sector and society of corruption. It is only the collective vigilance of workers and students and their preparedness to take political actions linked with a campaign for democratic running of schools that can begin to tackle the crisis of mismanagement and corruption which is strangling the education sector.
To this extent,. the ERC hereby calls on the national bodies of staff unions to start the process of naming a day for a nationwide strike and protest to demand transparent and democratic management of various tertiary institutions amidst other demands like free, functional and democratically managed education sector, proper funding of public education, , rejection of half salaries and better welfare conditions in the various institutions.
While we continue to demand a better standard of living under this government, it is imperative on staff unions and the wider labour movement to start building a mass workers’ political alternative for the purpose of taking political power, ending capitalism and putting in place a democratic government of workers and poor masses which can through socialist policies bring a permanent long-lasting solution to the fundamental problems facing the workers and public education. It is until the commanding heights of the economy are placed under the democratic control and management of the working people that the problem of fraud and corruption can be permanently eradicated within society as whole and also in the education sector.
Owoyomi Damilola Owot
Ondo State Coordinator
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)