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Nigeria: Osun Students Threaten Protests Over Frequent Closure of Polytechnic

The institution’s leadership crisis has sent students home for the second time since the controversy erupted in July.

Students of Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, have raised concern over the fresh closure of the institution following the leadership crisis rocking the polytechnic.

Since the removal of the institution’s substantive rector, Tajudeen Odetayo, and the appointment of his replacement, Kehinde Adeyemi, in an acting capacity, the staff and students of the school have continued to protest the government’s decision.

The government, during the week, announced another two-week break following the return of Mr Odetayo to the office after he was granted relief by the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Lagos.

The leadership tussle is sending students home for the second time since the controversy began.

The first closure lasted more than two weeks, from 24 July to 14 August. On Wednesday, the government announced another two-week closure.

Protest

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Osun State axis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Joint Campus Committee (JCJ) said it would embark on a peaceful protest should the state government fail to find a lasting solution to the problem on the campus as soon as possible.

The association’s statement issued a statement signed by its Chairman, Ogungbe Adedamola, and General Secretary, Afolabi Faruq.

“We believe that the mandated holiday for students will not only have negative intellectual consequences but also contribute to their academic setbacks,” it said.

The students described the disruption as unfair, saying it makes students victims of internal disagreements over the appointment of a rector or other administrative matters.

Should the government and school authorities fail to find a solution in the next few days, the students threaten a peaceful protest which it said would be confrontational.

The statement reads in part; “We call on the management of Osun State Polytechnic, the Osun State Government, and all other stakeholders involved to find a prompt and lasting solution to the impending crisis on the Ospoly campus within the next few days.

“Failure to do so will leave us with no choice but to take to the streets in peaceful protest. We emphasise that this press release serves as a consultative measure, and we strongly urge the Osun State Government and Ospoly management to address our concerns before we resort to street demonstrations, which are confrontational in nature.

“In conclusion, we have faith in the leadership of the Osun State Government, led by His Excellency, Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke, and we believe that he will listen to our yearnings as a caring leader and responsible governor.”

Background

The leadership crisis began late in July when the state government suspended Mr Odetayo over allegations of financial recklessness, corruption, misappropriation of funds, and abuse of office and immediately appointed Mr Adeyemi as acting Rector.

The development led to an instant protest by students and lecturers under the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) who were against Mr Odetayo’s suspension.

Dissatisfied with his suspension, Mr Odetayo approached the National Industrial Court, which voided his suspension and restrained the state government from appointing a rector for the institution.

He insisted he was never issued a query before the state government announced his suspension.

Following the court’s decision, Mr Odetayo, on Thursday, visited the premises of the polytechnic, accompanied by officials of the State Security Service (SSS).

But Mr Adeyemi, the acting rector, described Mr Odetayo’s return as a “forceful invasion” of the rector’s office but called for calm.

Later that day, the state Commissioner for Education, Dipo Eluwole, announced the closure of the school for two weeks. He also described Mr Odetayo’s return to the school as forceful.

“The immediate break is a necessary action to maintain peace in the institution following the forceful return of the suspended Rector, Dr Odetayo,” he said in a statement.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe

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