Members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta chapter, grounded academic activities at the institution on Wednesday following alleged directive by the Technical Committee set up by the Ogun State government to upgrade the institution to a university status.
They had alleged that the committee which is saddled with the task of overseeing the transition of MAPOLY to Moshood Abiola University of Science and Technology, headed by Prof. Peter Okebukola, had issued a directive ordering the sack of over 250 lecturers in the institution to turn in their resignation letters and reapply.
However, in a swift reaction, Prof. Okebukola refuted the claims of the lecturers stating that they were in contrast to the position of the committee.
The lecturers who protested within and outside the institution’s campus locked the gate and blocked it with two vehicles, chanting solidarity songs.
They had arrived the campus as early as 7 am, and placed fetish objects inside two calabashes containing dead snakes, sugarcane sticks, and local fowl eggs drenched in palm oil, in front of the school gate.
The lecturers were also armed with placards with various inscriptions such as “Okebukola must go” and “MAUSTECH must stay.”
They prevented vehicles from either leaving or entering the campus.
Addressing journalists in front of the gate, the ASUP chairman, Kola Abiola, said the Prof. Peter Okebukola-led committee had directed that over 250 lecturers in MAPOLY should resign and reapply as academic staff members of MAUSTECH.
The polytechnic was upgraded to a university status last week by the National Universities Commission, as it handed over the approval certificate to the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in Abuja.
Abiola further alleged that Okebukola gave the directive during a meeting between members of the committee and the leadership of the union.
He said the union did have confidence in the committee.
The union leader said the lecturers were open to dialogue with the committee and vowed that they would resist any directive that could lead to the loss of jobs by the members.
The Zonal Coordinator of ASUP, Zone C in charge of South West, Adetunji Omobaorun, said the action of the lecturers has the backing and the blessing of the national body.
He argued that the government and the committee did not recognise the right and interest of the major stakeholders in their decision.
He said, “The committee and government have refused to give recognition to the plight of major stakeholders and our interest is not their interest. We say no to slave trading in the land of the black.”
The State President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Balogun Olawale, also described the alleged directive “as wrong” advising that the government should be considerate.
However, Okebukola refuted all the claims in a statement he signed in Abeokuta on Wednesday, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent.
He said the claims were in contrast to the position of the committee that no member of staff would suffer job loss as a consequence of the upgrading of MAPOLY to MAUSTECH, and the establishment of Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia as the successor of MAPOLY.
The statement read in part, “We held a meeting with all staff at the beginning of our assignment and conveyed our position on job security.
“This position has been reechoed in subsequent meetings with staff unions. It is curious that some persons have taken undue liberty of misinforming the general public with the spread of such fake news.
“We have given the good people of Ogun State a pledge that in the shortest possible time, MAUSTECH and Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia will be among the brightest stars in the firmament of quality higher education in Nigeria, indeed in Africa.”