The National Association of Osun State Students (NAOSS) is the umbrella body that represents the interest of the entire students of Osun State origin studying in Nigeria and Diaspora. The association operates on two fronts namely; i) The indigenous/township students association in towns and local Government areas in Osun State; ii) The school chapters on campuses across the country and beyond.
Overview of the university: On October 1, 2006, the state governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola announced the creation of UNIOSUN through his deputy, Mrs Erelu Obada. The National Executive Council of NAOSS and some stakeholders of the association reciprocated this monumental project by paying a Thank you Visit to the Governor on Tuesday, October 31, 2006.
Following the creation of UNIOSUN was the inauguration of the Implementation Committee, headed by ex-Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola and some notable individuals within and outside the state.
People’s expectation was high, as the governor had always reiterated his intention to bring education to their reach at affordable fees. The Implementation Committee further corroborated this by promising us a university that will compete perfectly with its peers around the world, but we are confused.
Funding of the university: The governor purportedly declared the commitment of N2 billion to the commencement of this project from the state’s cover. Also, the Osun State House of Assembly mandated in February 2007, the 30 local government areas in the state to invest 5 per cent of their monthly allocation on the project. It is on record that since then, average monthly allocation to all local government areas in Osun State from federation account is about N1.6314 billion, excluding oil booms. Till date, about N0.75billion accrued from the local government area covers alone to the university.
Also, the sale of over 124,000 application forms at N3,000 each, scratch cards at N500 each and about 42,000 pre-degree forms at N5,000 each would have translated to N644million and by implication, the committee would have realized over N3.394billion for the project. We hope this threshold amount is far enough for a committee that pays zero kobo for land acquisition to start with.
Shortcomings of the committee and state government: At this junction, it is important to re-emphasize that establishment of a university should not be premised on political inclinations nor for money-making purpose but a step towards sky-rocketing the educational potentials of a state. We strongly believe that this purpose has been defeated.
Per capital income in Osun State: Throughout the country, Osun State Government adopts the least salary scale for her workers with a minimum wage of N6,500 monthly.
The standard of living is low as people are wallowing in abject poverty except the political class that flash around with exotic cars. Government spends more on volatile projects rather than investing in the people. We wonder how a top class worker could sponsor just one child to this university with a fee of over N220,000.It is a sheer error on the part of government and the committee to have underestimated people’s average income before jumping into conclusion over the fees. We therefore condemn in clear terms, this uncomplimentary attempt to frustrate helpless people of Osun State.
Screening exercise/admission: After series of classical exploitation, inconsistencies and optimal irregularities surrounding the imaginary screening exercise, Prof. Olu Aina, chairman admission committee came out with a submission on partial resumption of some successful candidates this year while the bulk of them resume next year for the same academic session. Please, our amiable professor, we are not bunch of fools. This epileptic starts is nothing but 419.If the university cannot take off this year, next year is not too late.
Physical structures: The essence of screening exercises for staff and students are not yet known when classrooms and offices are not in place. September 21 seems impracticable for resumption. Student records are not safe. Maybe, they will be kept inside their cars. What about the lectures, practical and other academic activities? We hope to see whether they will commence under trees or arboreal. The exalted office of the Vice Chancellor is yet undefined in term of structures, portfolio and other paraphernalia. This is absolutely unprecedented in the history of any university.
School fees: For this university project if purpose-driven, there should be at least relative correlation between people’s income and the tuition fees. Sincerely speaking, it is unfair for government that pays least salary to overcharge its citizens. No civil servant, irrespective of his level could afford payment of N225.000 fee for just one child talkless of the helpless masses that dominate the state. The fact is that Prince Oyinlola and His kitchen committee designed the project only for their acolytes with a private structure.
Even the fee is incomparable with that of some private universities like BOWEN, MADONNA, and others that pay less. Babcock University and those in its category pay a comparable fees with UNIOSUN that is a public school. Our fear is the brutal extensive effect this would confer on other higher institutions in the states and beyond. Definitely, their school fees will rise exponentially to unbearable level come session.
Priority for Osun indigenes: That Osun indigenes deserve 95 per cent quota in students’ admission and staff recruitment is nonnegotiable. It is an acceptable norm all over the world. We urge the committee to follow this trend to the letter in order not to defeat the purpose of UNIOSUN’s creation.
Victimisation of students’ leaders and infringement on their fundamental human rights: It is on record that Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has always launched brutal attack on innocent students’ leaders who defend the right interest of their fellow students.
We cannot afford to forget the suspension of Alofe Babatunde (Agbakoba) former students’ union President, OSCOTECH, ESA-OKE and other stakeholders for two academic sessions. The ugly experience of Comrade Government (Former Secretary General of the students’ union OSUNPOLY Iree) is not different. While merciless matcheting of innocent students of Osunpoly Iree towards April polls still poses physical challenges on the affected individuals.
The proscription of students’ union government in Esa-oke is another landmark achievements of Oyinlola’s administration while undue intervention in students’ election has become part of Oyinlola’s packages to students. Oyinlola’s overwhelming influence in reducing student bodies particularly, National Association of Osun State Students to government appendage is no news. We urge His Excellency to mind his business and desist from strangulating students’ activities in the state.
Bursary award: We seize this avenue to appeal to our amiable governor to reverse our local government bursary back to base. The ongoing central system of payment has denied students’ access to this ridiculous N2000 annual bursary. The snatching of the payment from Local Government has paralyzed activities of our association at local levels. We have always discussed with His Excellency, the inconsistencies, irregularities and non-payment in many schools. It is unfortunate that Oyinlola is an unyielding leader.
Since year 2005, each of the 30 local governments in the state has contributed N3 million annually to the state purse in the name of local government bursary for Osun students. This has accrued to N270million and obviously, there is nothing to show for it. It is on record that since 2005 Oyinlola has paid the bursary just once stretching from year 2005 till date. Your Excellency, where is our money?
The state bursary for final year students is another means by which Oyinlola loot the state’s treasury. For the sake of clarification, we urge His Excellency to publish and make available to our association, the record of his ghost beneficiaries and how much he has spent so far. We called on the Osun Sate House of Assembly, EFCC and ICPC to investigate this matter thoroughly.
•Immediate removal of Prof. Peter Okebukola and total dissolution of his committee for gross misconduct, breach of trust, inconsistencies and misapplication of public funds.
•Instant Reversal of UNIOSUN tuition fees to N7800 per student. This represents the mean annual income of an average Osun worker.
•Refund of unduly collected application fees to unjustly disqualified candidates.
•Completion of all primary physical projects before the commencement of any academic work.
•Stoppage of infiltrations into students’ activities by Oyinlola and further victimization of student leaders.
•Payment of outstanding 2005 and withheld 2006 and 2007 bursary to all schools especially, OSCOTECH, Esa-Oke, OSCOED Ila-Orangun, Adeyemi College Of Education, Ondo,
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife and many other denied schools.
•Implementation of UNESCO prescribed 26 per cent of the revenue allocation on education
Conclusion: We call on His Excellency, Prince (Dr) Olagunsoye Oyinlola to respond to this matter promptly by coming out in clear terms on the viability of this university.
We advise him and his kitchen cabinet to tread the path of his Yobe State counterpart if the project is not feasible, than beating around the bush as UNIOSUN is not a private project. We seek the prompt intervention of our revered royal fathers, religious leaders, political parties, and other stakeholders.
While we commend the enduring passion of our parents at home, we salute the courage of our members who at one instance or the other, have fallen victim of Oyinlola-Okebukola-UNIOSUN’s syndrome. To you all, sky is the limit.
by: Jimoh muhali adekilekun
Adekilekun is the National President, National Association of Osun State Students (national body).