Sunday 2 June 2019

Osun College of Education (OSCOED), Ilesa, Rocked With Violent Students' Protest as Corruption Fights Back on Tight Administrative Measures of Kolawole Kazeem

On Monday 27th May, 2019 some set of students came into the Osun State College of Education, Ilesa campus claiming that the College Management did not take permission before making plans to build a TETFUND sponsored Students Centre. They cane asking because they are used to collecting land rents on any project to be executed on the campus, turning themselves into land gabbers. For instance, some of these so called college students leaders forced a service provider to part with the sum N300,000 before their mast could be mounted in 2017.

In order to ensure that peace reigns on the College Campus, on Tuesday, May 28th, 2019, the Provost of the college, Prof. Kolawole Kazeem made attempt to address the issue by explaining the advantages of building a a Students Centre befitting of the status of the college and that became a violent protest where the students were asking for the removal and replacement of the Provost. The college has since been held hostage by less than 20 students and they would only be placated if their own wish is obeyed.

The protest by the students later took another dimension. According to information gathered through radio and television, some students coerced some innocent ones into their dastardly mission, while protesting against "incessant" and "increased" number of death on the college campus. They claimed that the college had lost between 11 and 15 students in the last one month. They even reported that three students died within a day. We also gathered that the college management imposed several bills and increase the school fees. As a result, they want the Provost to resign or be removed. They wreaked havoc which resulted to injuries of innocent students; harassed members of the public; blockage of the main road and the use of dangerous weapons on the staff of the college. The dangerous actions resulted in a deadly attack on the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ilesa East Local Government.

Investigation revealed that none of these claims were correct and all the issues raised were not only exaggerated, but they didn't represent the true picture of what has been the situation on a peaceful campus that is supposed to start the first semester examination in two weeks time. The public disturbance is premeditated and sponsored.

The college campus didnot lose 11 or 15 students. The management got information last Friday of the death of a student, who had been on a protracted illness. The said student had gone through surgical operation. Unfortunately the boy died. The second case which was reported, was similar to the first one. It was even reported that the girl who died was unable to participate in the just concluded teaching practice exercise.

With regards to the prescription of Students Union Government, the Management did not proscribe the students union. The true picture is that sometimes in November last year, students were asked to pay for the annual practice program. While some students were carrying on the process of registering for the exercise, the set of students who are in the University of Ibadan programme of the college started harassing those who were registering. This development led to the suspension of the Nigeria University Education Students Association (NUESA), to which the University of Ibadan students belong. It was the NUESA that was suspended.

The situation with the last Students Union Government (SUG) was that the term of the exercise lapsed, around January 2019. That administration was unable to conduct election into the various offices, due to the four months long strike of the Academic Union in 2018. In other to avoid a vacuum, the College Management put a Caretaker Committee in place, for the purpose of conducting election into the Students Union Government

The committee came up with the election timetable in March 2019. The election were to be held in April. At the interactive session which the Provost was addressing, some set of boys masterminded an attack on the Provost where pure water filled sachets were thrown on him. This dastardly act led to the suspension of the elections. The College Management in its wisdom was of the view that the election may be marred with violence if allowed to hold.

Those fingered in the attack on the Provost were made to face the College Students Disciplinary Committee. The report of the committee is being prepared. Another remote cause for the new wave of violence.

Also, shortly after the attack on the Provost, some students invited the leadership of NANS in the Southwest to intervene. NANS met with the Dean of Students and his team. The true picture was given to NANS and the leadership of NANS accepted the position of the college, which is that it is a bit late to start the process of conducting elections into a session that has virtually come to an end of the first semester. And that since Students Union Government is expected to be for two semesters, it is better to wait for the second semester, when the election into the 2019/2020 is expected to hold. That it will amount to a waste to conduct two elections in three months interval. It was therefore the position of the College Management that the Caretaker Committee should hold forth and make arrangement for the election into the 2019/2020 session. However, some students with the backing of some staff who had been imbued in fraudulent and corrupt practices would rather see the college burn.

It is on record that before the appointment of Prof. Labayo Kolawole Kazeem, the College had been held hostage by some set of staff that see themselves as untouchable. Students were graduating without paying a kobo to the coffers of the College's Account Department. The fulcrum on which his administration is founded has taken a deep and calculated look at issues concerning the smooth operation of the College system of operation. He has had reasons to reassess many of the traditions and practices he met on the ground. Many he has had reasons to replace and he has reinvented for greater productivity. The College Management under the Provost's watch had to swing into action by revisiting some of the practices that are not in tandem with administrative best practices. For instance, stopping payment of some frivolous allowances, blocking all known and unknown area of financial leakages, enforcing payment of school fees and other charges by students and taking steps to put the college on sound footing resulted in a lots of ill-feeling against the person of the Provost. It is on record that the college had lost over N84million to students who graduated without paying a kobo.

Prof. Kolawole Kazeem's fight against corruption in Osun State College of Education, Ilesa is indeed  a tough one. Untouchable lecturers and administrative staff once tagged sacred are being gored but they are so desperate as they won't go down without a fight. And this is not unexpected…But the rugged Professor is up to the task and will surely have no stone unturned as he restores sanity back to OSCOED. The war to rid the college off corruption must be won; for the betterment of all.

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