Demands unbiased probe into the Prof. Daramola-led administration and payment of workers salary arrears
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) strongly condemns the recall of the immediate-past Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Prof. Biyi Daramola, and the Bursar, Emmanuel Oresegun, by the Governing Council of the Federal University of Technology (FUTA) after the Minister of Education had suspended them, in compliance with extant public service rules, over allegations of misappropriation of public funds and abuse of office brought against them.
As far as we are concerned, the action of the Governing Council can only be viewed as an attempt to legitimize corruption, cover-up and undermine the struggle of the staff unions for an unbiased probe of the Prof. Biyi Daramola-led university administration. If care is not taken, such action can help to further entrench the culture of impunity by which management of tertiary institutions run the affairs of their schools.
At the same time, the ERC also condemns the University management for refusing to pay the salaries and allowances of the members of the NASU, SSANU, and NAAT because of their protest which led to the suspension of Prof. Daramola and the University’s Bursar. Despite the agreement and verdict of the court that all allowances should be paid not later than 24 hours after the suspension of the protest and resuming back into offices of the staff union, the management has refused to pay up even after 7 days of resumption.
So grave were the allegations against Prof. Biyi Daramola and his Bursar, Emmanuel Oresegun, that they were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday 14 February 2017 at the Ondo State High Court in Akure on offences of misappropriation of public funds, misuse of office, and obtaining money under false pretense among others. While Mr. Daramola is facing a nine-count charge, his co-accused is facing a two-count charge of mishandling unpaid funds and fixing funds without due process.
It should be recalled that the members of the three staff unions under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) embarked on a protest and strike which lasted 7 months since the 6th day of October, 2016, demanding the interdiction of the immediate-past VC, Prof. Biyi Daramola and Bursar who are being prosecuted by the EFCC and the dissolution of the FUTA Governing Council, among other demands. After a lot of delays spanning 7 months, the Minister of education finally bowed to the power of struggle and suspended Prof. Daramola and Emmanuel Oresegun.
Now that the Governing Council is now actively trying to undermine workers’ struggle against graft and for transparency in the running of the University, the staff unions must not relent. Instead a useful lesion they must draw from this experience is that the struggle against corruption in the University system cannot succeed simply with interdiction and prosecution of the immediate-past VC and the bursar. In the first instance, if the Governing Council was not corrupt itself or benefitting from Prof. Daramola’s corrupt activities, it would not have turned a blind eye to the mismanagement that went on under the past administration. Therefore, it is only until the decision-making organs of the University (i.e. the Senate, Governing Council etc.) are democratized through the involvement of genuine and elected representatives of students and staff that it can be possible to prevent fraud, corruption and mismanagement.
Hence, the workers union needs to return to the drawing table in order to plan a more effective action to demand an unbiased probe of the Daramola’s led administration. This type of plan should involve a day of action coupled with mass rallies and public mass-actions. Furthermore, the demands of the workers union should be extended to, not only the suspension of the corrupt management officials but also the recovery of all looted funds. Since these funds, if recovered, will be to the benefit of the whole FUTA community, there is a need for students and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to stand in solidarity with the JAC.
Going forward, a key demand that the workers unions must now embrace is the demand for democratic running of FUTA whereby both staff and students of the institution will be key factors in the decision making organ of the institution. This is the only effective antidote to corruption and mismanagement.
We also call on the new leadership of the students union to play an important role towards the mobilization for the eradication of corruption and the democratic running of the institution, not only in FUTA but also in other tertiary institutions across the country. Where University administrators pilfer or mismanage funds, the first victims are students who will continue to lack the adequate facilities required for quality education. Therefore it is vital that students unite with staff unions in joint struggle.
For us in the ERC, while we continue to demand for a better standard of living under this government, we believe it is equally imperative for the labour movement to start building an alternative mass workers party to fight for political power and enthrone a democratic socialist system of government which will serve as a permanent long-lasting solution to the fundamental problems facing education sector and society as a whole. It is until the commanding heights of the economy are placed under the democratic control and management of the working masses that such problems like fraud and corruption can be permanently eradicated.
Owoyomi Damilola Owot
Ondo State ERC Coordinator