An Exclusive Interview with the Students Union President of Osun State College of Education concerning the nature of the strike, the ending, examination commencement, and uplift of the institution.
T.O.C: Can we meet you sir?
President: My name is Abiola Adams, popularly known as Awolowo. The Student Union President (2016/2017 academic session), Osun State College of Education, Ilesa, affiliated to the Univeristy of Ibadan.
T.O.C: Thank you very much sir. Could you please tell us the real nature of the just concluded strike?
President: Before I give report on the nature of the strike, honestly, it has not been easy to handle things with the management, and the academic staff. They will play and give informations not real. But, it is God that has been making things easy, that I’m giving all glory to. He has been given me wisdom and understanding to manage the academic administration perfectly.
The industrial action started a month ago. The basis for the agitation is peculiar, which is allowance. It is a legitimate money being deducted as state tax on salaries, which is later given back on monthly basis, which is 3% and 5% of their given salary.
The chief lecturers and senior staff will be collecting 5% on their basic salary, while 3% is for ordinary staff.
In order to have basic knowledge of what this allowance is all about, let’s trace the antecedent.
If we can recall, during His Excellency Oyinlola administration, there is something called Grant. It is a subvention that state government always give to primary, secondary schools, and tertiary institutions. Funds were been given for bills, to maintain internally employed staff. And at the end of the day, on the tuition fee of the Students, state government collected percentage.
But, when His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola came on board, he changed the policy. He invited all managements in the state tertiary institutions, and said he wouldn’t collect any percentage of students’ tuition fee anymore, and he won’t also pay any allowance in return. Stating that management should pay, and he will be responsible for only salary, maintain, and run affairs of the institutions.
On yearly basis, state government always set up a committee on how the affairs of tertiary institution are been managed. And then, state government made a statement that, out of the 5 managements: Ilesa, Ila, Esa-Oke, Uni. Osun and Ire, who among them that cannot afford to pay the allowance should signify, giving that who is not ready to pay will be replaced with management that is ready to pay. But none of them did, because, they couldn’t risk their job. That’s how the history of allowance came to the neck of tertiary institutions management.
Now that they refused to pay, the COEASU needed to go on strike. Because, when the new COEASU came on board, the first thing to ask was for allowance, in which the governing council of the school said there was no money. When the agitation came in, The governing council pleaded, and COEASU could not believe them.
We took this upon our self as a union. We wrote a letter to the Osun House of Assembly to intervene on this issue. Fortunately, they invited COEASU and management, in which they also pleaded on behalf of the management for COEASU to call off the strike, and this made them had a meeting. But because students heard that COEASU were not doing anything to call off the strike, we reacted on Tuesday, in which in the congress, the acting provost, Mrs Adeyeye came, and stated the reason why they couldn’t pay. She also affirmed that Taye’s Money can not be used to pay Kehinde’s debt.
After much pressure the following day, I was called by the acting provost, and asked what we want as students. After stating our needs (Cancellation of strike and others), she succumbed to pay. Not quite long, a month allowance alert landed on the account of the appropriate quarters.
Now to the Glory of God, we are back for resumption.
T.O.C: The U.I examination time table is out. But tell us, how reliable is the time table?
President: You see, I can’t say that of U.I 300 and 400 Level will hold on the 22nd of May as stated, because, we need to consider the N.C.E students. They are already paying their second year house rent, yet, they haven’t written any examination, nor given any matric number as a mode of identification for the past 14 months they’ve been in school.
So, if the management could provide room for the examination of the N.C.E students before 22nd May, the 300 and 400 Level students will surely write their exam. But if not, it can’t be possible.
Aside that, as a student, I still know number of courses that we attended once or twice, how do they want 400 Level students like me to write the exam? I’m still going back to the labour market, and a standard system is needed. So, the 300 and 400 Level Students still need lectures.
More so, we shouldn’t feel inferior to other students in other institutions, because the system isn’t fascinating. The environment is bushy, no toilet. etc. To say the truth, we are at the grass root. We are receiving less. Yes, our lecturers are good, but the setting is bad.
No one could know his or her real C.G.P.A, even as a 200 or 300 Level Students. Some results are still pending, to mention but a few. But they should know that our silence doesn’t mean peace.
T.O.C: Concerning some U.I students that are feeling superior to the N.C.E students, what can you say to change their orientation?
President: You see, some N.C.E students are even more intelligent than some U.I students. I’m not saying U.I students are not intelligent, I’m one of them. There are exceptional students from the N.C.E students. Even among my comrades, they are good, so also the UITES.
I’ve been meeting them, I move with them, and they are up to the task.
Personally, the interest of collectiveness is paramount in my mind. We are catalyst of change.
T.O.C: On the final part. The comrades, senators, honorables and the entire students, what urge can you give them, to take the school to the apex level?
President: Thanks so much.
You know, it has to do with loyalty. My advice will be going to the lecturers, students, and the comrades.
If you are a lecturer, and you are loyal to your H.O.D, condemning the activities of the department, that will not work. Divert your loyalty to a system. A system that is feeding you, and not the personality.
And to students, we are old enough.
Honestly, tears do drop from my eyes when I see students of twenty eight years still in N.C.E, or 200 level and 300 Level U.I. It saddens heart. Though, we still have teens in the school.
Let us be hardworking, loyal to the system, and do the needful to have right to challenge the authority, putting them on the right path.
To my comrades, my partners in progress. If you are looking for one’s downfall, or digging for Awolowo, you might find yourself in it, or your friend. Yoruba people will say, “agbajo owo la fin so’ya, ajoji owo kan kii gberu dori” A tree can not make a forest, but a tree can shake the whole forest.
T.O.C: Thank you very much sir. We hope next time we need your attention, you will give us an audience?
President: No problem. You are always welcomed.
We open and operate open door policy. You just knock, you come in.