Just like many other state owned tertiary institutions in Nigeria, institutions in Ondo State have continued to face the challenges of infrastructure inadequacies, funding and other hindrances that have brought a hitch in teaching and learning in the various schools.
However, stakeholders in the education sector in Ondo State heaved a sigh of relief when the governor of the state, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), last year inaugurated four visitation panels to the four state-owned tertiary institutions aimed at proffering solutions to the many problem bothering the institutions.
Akeredolu, who said his government would not fail to take bold decisions to pursue ideas considered necessary for the development of the state, asked members of the four panels to consider their invitations to serve the state as sacred. Besides asking the panels to proffer solutions to identified problems in the state’s tertiary institutions, the governor urged the panels to among other things, look into the state of compliance of the niversities/polytechnic with the statutes which established them and approved programmes of study; financial management of the universities/polytechnic including subventions, grants, loans, and internally generated revenues (IGR) and determine their compliance with appropriate regulations; determine the adequacy of staff and staff development programmes of the universities/polytechnic, and determine the pattern of recruitment in accordance with extant statutory provisions.
The visitation panel to Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, was chaired by Dr. Goke Adegoroye. Prof. Olumide Tewe chaired the panel for the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa. The panel to University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, was chaired by Prof. Ayo Arowojolu, while Prof. Sunday Adewale chaired the visitation panel for Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo. The governor had asked the four panels to be courageous while discharging their responsibilities and to submit their recommendations within three weeks. January 26, this year, the panel dutifully submitted its report to Governor Akeredolu and stakeholders in the education sector, expressed great hope that things will work out for good for the secor.
The governor, while receiving the report, expressed optimism that the reports will bring solutions to the identified problems in the institutions. He had also reiterated his administration’s commitment to deliver a 21st-century compliant tertiary education system with the limited resources available.
Indeed, the reports which were submitted by the respective panel chairmen, embodies some recommendations and findings that will assist the state government in repositioning the institutions. Speaking on behalf of the panel chairmen, the chairman for Adekunle Ajasin University panel, Dr. Goke Adegoroye said a full-fledged stakeholder and sustainable development approach to the funding of all the state-owned institutions was imperative and had to be fully implemented to move the sector in the state forward. The governor on March 13, 2018, furthermore, inaugurated the Governing Councils for the four tertiary institutions in Ondo State as stakeholders hoped that the recommendations of the visitation panel will help guide the Council to bring about the needed changes in the institutions. On July 2nd, 2018, during a press briefing held shortly after the weekly state executive council meeting, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mrs. Olawumi Ilawoye told journalists that the council had approved the recommendations as part of the moves of the Akeredolu-led administration to reposition the four institutions in the state for optimal performance. Ilawole said the council had looked into the recommendations of the panel on the compliance of the institutions, financial management, and staff development program.
She said, “A committee was set up to review the recommendations contained in the panel report. Some of the areas that the visitation panel looked at and which white paper has been drafted and approved today bothered on the state of compliance of the Universities and Polytechnic with the approved status and programs and the laws that backed them up.
“This is to ensure that they properly position and they deliver quality education to the citizens of Ondo State. Also, we try to look at the financial management of the Universities. We looked at subventions, and how adequate are the subventions and what the government is doing in order to improve on the income and revenue of these Universities. “We also looked at the adequacy of staff. We looked at staff development program and a lot of all these recommendations will soon be out to use. It will be sent to the governing council of these state-owned institutions for implementation and in no short times, we are very sure, according to the vision of this administration, our four state institutions will be repositioned for optimal performance.” However, over one month after the Ondo State Government announced the release, for immediate implementation, the document is yet to be handed over to the various institution Governing councils for effective implementation.
Unexpectedly, it took the government another six months to announce the implementation of the recommendations, claiming that the reports have been handed over to the Governing Council of each higher institution. Many stakeholders in the state have faulted the silent of the governor, on the implementation of the report even as many, seem to be losing confidence and trust in the Akeredolu led government because of his cold feet in the handling of the recommendation of the Visitation panel report for implementation. Our correspondent gathered that series of petitions, appeals and so on were written from some concerned members of the public, student unions, members of the various university communities in Ondo, Okitipupa, Akungba, Supare,Simerin-Uba Oja communities among other; ASUU, SSANU, NASU,NAAT, ANAN, and other professional bodies, over the delay in the implementation of the visitation panel’s reports.
LEADERSHIP investigation also revealed that the recommendations were expected to contained issues ranging from the repositioning of the various institutions, mis-governance of the university, financial issues as regards petitions, over bloated employment into the institutions even after the inauguration of the Government. Other expected recommendations border on cooperative societies’ deductions, school fees, student welfare. Staff issues, including illegal/unwarranted termination of appointments, withheld promotion, victimization and witch-hunting, and various matters surrounding the re-absorbed staff. Of importance are subventions to the University and spending, the award of contracts, inflation of contracts, financial recklessness, incompetence, moral ineptitude among others. Unfortunately, the report which stakeholders believed would have finally laid to rest, many of the problems bedeviling higher institutions in Ondo state, are now being jettisoned by a government who had promised to reposition the education sector for better service delivery.
For now, observers believed that the anticipating release of the recommendation to the council chairs for implementation seem to be a bridge too far as the body language of the government seems not to look at the direction of the stakeholders in the education sector. It is believed that things would continue to get worsened than envisaged if the government continues to pay lips services to critical issues as demonstrated in the implementation of recommendations of the reports of the Visitation Panels on Ondo State-owned higher institutions.
Sadly, the state has continued to maintain seal lips as far as issues of the much awaited implementation is concerned as the commissioner of education declined comment on the matter even as the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Segun Ajiboye told our correspondent that the document has been handed over to the schools immediately the State Executive Council approved it.
Ajiboye said: “ the document is no longer with the governor again. The governor had approved the implementation of the report and handed it over to the schools for implementation” adding” You should ask the schools why they are not implementing it, not the governor.”