April 16, 2021

AfricaTopForum

AfricaTopForum – News Around Africa

Rector, academic board disagree over suspension

7 min read
estate

The Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Ede is at loggerheads with the Academic Board of the institution over the ‘Dual Award Programme’ , a controversial programme he introduced and other issues. The rector has rebuffed the board’s attempt to suspend him as its chairman, TOBA ADEDEJI reports.

 

WHEN the Federal Polytechnic, Ede resumes once the Federal Government gives schools the greenlight to reopen post-COVID-19, convening a meeting of the Academic Board may be an issue as the board suspended the Rector Dr. John Adekolawole as its chairman last month. However, Adekolawole has dismissed his suspension as a joke.

The Academic Board is to a polytechnic what the Senate is to a university – overseeing decisions about academic activities in the institution.  It is made up of chief lecturers, heads of departments, deans, and other senior members of staff.

On December 11, 2020, the Board suspended Adekolawole for flouting its directives regarding a programme he introduced at the end of which students earn both the National Diploma (ND) and the National Certificate in Education (NCE). While polytechnics award National Diploma and Higher National Diploma, which run for two years each (for full-time programme), colleges of education award the NCE, which runs for three years.

A source told The Nation that the Dual Award Programme was not accepted by the board and did not enjoy the blessing of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) which approves academic programmes of monotechnics, polytechnics and colleges of technology across the country.

“The recent crisis was as a result of Dual Award Programme introduced by the Rector where students who applied, at the end of two years will get both National Diploma (ND) and the National Certificate of Education (NCE). This is not practised anywhere in Nigeria,” the source said.

Providing more context, the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) Federal Polytechnic, Ede branch, Mr Adekunle Masopa, said the Academics Board passed a vote of no confidence on the rector because he flouted its directive to stop the controversial programme which had been running for over 18 months. He said ASUP had also monitored the issue.

He said: “The union raised concern over the issue since last year and we followed it to National Board for Technology Education (NBTE) in Abuja. On September 16, 2020, we held a meeting with the former Executive Secretary of the NBTE and he declared the programme unapproved and illegal.  No polytechnic has the mandate to award NCE. The mode of admission is not known to anybody according to the website of the institution.The Rector signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a firm named M8 Global to run the programme award. All payments made by the students in this category were not remitted to the purse of Ede Poly.

“The Academic Board of Federal Polytechnic Ede set up a committee to investigate the matter and they recommended that the programme be suspended. Yet, the Rector recruited part-time lecturers to teach those students.  When they commenced examination for them, it angered the Academic Board and he (the Rector) was suspended.”

Adekolawole

Apart from the dual award programme, The Nation also learnt that the Adekolawole’s suspension was premised on dereliction of duty – with the allegation that he absconded from office for about a month; and the claim that he created a bedroom furnished with a king-size bed as part of his office.The controversial programme was then cancelled by the board.

There was uproar after Adekolawole’s suspension was announced. The four tyres of rector’s SUV were deflated by some workers following the meeting.

The cancellation of the dual award programme also angered students who had signed up for it. They stormed the institution’s permanent site and hauled stones at the administrative building.

To assuage the students, the institution came up with a way to convert the programme to a part-time National Diploma programme.

A memo with reference number FPE/REG/C&N/015/071 signed by the Registrar, Mr Isiaka Agboola detailed the conversion of the programme.

It reads: “Sequel to the decision of the Academic Board at its meeting held on 25th November 2020, members of the polytechnic community are hereby informed that the Dual Award Programme hitherto run by the polytechnic in conjunction with M8 Global Know Network Limited, has been out rightly cancelled and as such, the polytechnic is no longer involved in the running of any Dual Award Programme.

“Students of the programme are hereby informed and assured of the successful completion of their National Diploma programme because they are going to be accommodated within the system whenever the Academic Board of the Federal Polytechnic Ede fashion out the modalities of doing same.

“In view of the above, the affected students are advised to go ahead with their on-going examinations and to remain calm and be law-abiding.”

Beyond the issues raised against Adekolawole that led to his suspension, The Nation learnt that part of the factors fueling the crisis was the proposed probe panel that Adekolawole planned to set up to look into the grants given to six staff of the polytechnic for their PhD programme by Tertiary Trust Fund (TETFund).

It was gathered that since the six workers received the grant in 2013, none of them reported to the school on the completion of the programme to date. The rector alleged that they received the grant and diverted it to other personal gains because they failed to report the progress of their programmes to the Polytechnic management.

A source in the polytechnic said, “The fundamental issue that is causing the crisis in our school is the issue of Dual Award Programme introduced by the Rector, probe of six officers who collected TETFUND grants through the school for their PhD which they have not given the school report of completion. One of those staff that collected the grants of TETFUND is the present Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP), Mr Adekunle Masopa.

“Following the planned probe of the TETFUND PhD grants, they started to create unnecessary trouble in the school to foil probe. There was another issue where some senior officers of the school allegedly used N33 million to build 8 by 12 toilet. Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) is probing the matter and those involved are returning the money they shared.”

Adekolawole told The Nation that the ASUP chairman was after removing him because he was one of those affected by the TETFund PhD probe.

“The local chapter ASUP Chairman has been at loggerheads with me since 2018. He went for TETFUND PhD sponsorship but couldn’t graduate as his studentship was determined.

“He, has, therefore been trying to unseat me to escape the customary sanctions. He has therefore been looking for every opportunity to indict me even on flimsy issues,” he said.

However, Masopa denied that he had abandoned his PhD, saying he was still doing the programme at the University of Ilorin’s Sociology Department. He urged the Rector to probe the six officers, himself inclusive, over the PhD programme.

“I urge the Rector to probe us. My PhD programme is still on. I collected two tranches of N500,000 which totaLled N1 million for the programme,” he said.

On the claim that Adekolawole had a bed in his office, Masopa claimed that people who go to the office sighted the King-Bed size on many occasions. He said workers complained that the office door was shut against them.

“Members of staff have instances whereby the Rector’s office door was locked against them no matter the degree and sensitivity of matter brought before him. It happened on the day he was suspended, he shut his door against staff,’’ he alleged.

But Adekolawole debunked the claim.  He said he had no bed in his office.

“There is no bed in my office neither do I sleep on duty,” he told The Nation on phone.

“They photoshopped a room in a hotel and placed it in the media to tarnish my image! There’s no such room in my office,” he added.

Defending dual award programme, Adekolawole said it was one of the school’s collaboration efforts in Open Distance and Flexible e-Learning (ODFEL) project saying: “It was presented, discussed over five months and approved by the Academic Board of the Polytechnic between December 2018 and May 2019. And we did sign a MOU. So it is not illegal.”

Adekolawole also said he could not be suspended by the board because there is no provision for the Academic Board to move or pass a vote of no confidence on its Chairman (Rector).

“It is not an elective but statutory post. No motion was being made when by the prearranged move, the Director ICE just got out of the blue and said he lost confidence in the Chairman!  We were trying to rule him out of order when the Dean School of Applied Sciences got up that he supported the motion (though improperly and untimely moved).”

The Rector called for help from what he called a campaign to smear and remove him from office.

“All human rights groups and well-meaning people should come to my aid and spare my family all these campaigns of calumny,” he said.