I have just read online ASUP (MAPOLY) press release on the issue of relocation to a new Polytechnic and or ‘resign and reapply ‘ policy of the new MAUTECH Transition Committee if they will be employed in the new university. ASUP further claimed that it has lost confidence in the ability of Government (OGSG) to fund the two new institutions since funding depends primarily on school fees, because establishment of the new institutions imply new and lower enrolment figures and by implication, decline in students fees support.
1. Central to all the issues raised is the establishment of two new institutions which are now legal realities. Since OGSG has acted within the Nigerian Constitutional provisions placing education on the concurrent list, the right to establish the institutions remains lawful. The issue of the ability of OGSG to fund them remains an ethical imperative which only Government can address.
2. ASUP MAPOLY, however, has an avowed right to express concerns about the job security of her members, especially since OGSG through the Transition Committee (OGSG –TC) has asked the staff to resign and/or re-apply for jobs. Ordinarily, what the OGSG –TC did may not be right in ethics and law since it cannot just ask or force employees to resign without any act of wrong doing, especially in an educational institution setting which is different from a business organization that has gone under or into liquidation and workers are auto-laid off.
3. However, the needless crisis would have been avoided if OGSG has learned from the experience of the management of a similar TASUED/TASCE crisis in the past. In the first place, OGSG should not have scrapped MAPOLY while the new MAUTECH was being established. If MAPOLY were not scrapped, then OGSG has a legitimate right to transfer the intuition’s location to anywhere it likes, while the contractual relationship between OSGG (via MAPOLY Governing Council as immediate employers) and the workers (now represented by Union) would remain intact. Government has a right to embark on the internal transfer or deployment of any staff to any location where the establishment resides. (Recall, for instance, the transfer or redeployment of some top UI staff to University College, Jos, i.e. from Ibadan to Jos before the college later became a university. Similarly, when UNAB was a college placed under UNILAG, it technically became an extension or Abeokuta campus of UNILAG, and UNILAG redeployed or sent the Provost and some senior staff there until later when it became a full-fledged university). The implication is that if MAPOLY had not been scrapped by statue and simply related to Ikpokia, (name can be changed to Ogun Poly, Ikpokia later), then the workers will no longer have the right to argue that they cannot be moved or transferred to the same institution’s new location. OGSG can then, as act of motivation and corporate social conscience pay reasonable relocation allowance to the workers. If, however, any worker is still not satisfied, he can then resign or can resign and apply to be employed by the new MAUTECH if such a vacancy exists.
4. On the issue of institutional funding dependence on school fees, which arguably may decline, there are two critical options/issues:
(a) If MAPOLY were not scrapped, then it could retain its current enrolment figures as already approved by the National Commission in charge of Polytechnics. Without any objection from the Commission, the current fee-based funding can remain on its present level or be increased.
(b) However, in the event or situation of MAPOLY being scrapped, the National Commission will insist on regulating admission figures into a new Polytechnic after the usual pre-accreditation visitation. That of course will lead to a drastic reduction in approved enrolment (as feared by the unions) and eventually reduce or lead to a decline in the anticipated school fees-support funding.
5. By the way of summary, the issues raised can be amicably resolved, if the steps below are taken and/or retained.
(a) Accept and retain MAUTECH as a new university legally established in Ogun State.
(b) De-scrap MAPOLY, if already scrapped by law or restore to it the status quo ante. Movement to a new site will them simply be anchored on a Disarticulation of Co-habitation Policy.
(c) Provide succour to the staff of MAPOLY who will be moving to a new location or environment by giving them generous re-location allowances.
(d) Allow the Okebukola Transition Committee to begin earnestly the job of recruitment of staff into the new University. Allow some of the MAPOLY staff who are prima facie qualified and are willing to apply and be employed and re-designated along the university’s career structure to be employed.
Prof Segun Awonusi, FESAN,FNAL,
UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS
(Fmr. Commissioners of Educ., Ogun State
Fmr. Vice-Chancellor, TASUED,
Fmr. VC, FUEK, Kano)