By Adebayo Olodan
Located in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, College of Education, Oro (COED, Oro) a citadel saddled with the task of producing teachers for schools in the state and the country; for many years, employees of the institution have enjoyed harmonious relationship among themselves.
However, the peaceful coexistence among the staff of COED, Oro may be threatened to its foundation following the controversies that have continued to trail who replaces Alhaji Abdulganiyu Hannafi as the substantive Registrar of the college after the expiration of his tenure last December.
According to a highly placed source within the institution who does not want his name in print, the decision of the Chairman of the Governing Council of the institution, Prof Kenneth Adeyemi to impose the Acting Registrar, Mr Samuel Kayode Ategbese on the college is breeding tribal and ethnicity feud among the employees.
“There is a working arrangement in place whereby the constitution of the management of all state-owned tertiary institutions cut across the three Senatorial Districts.
“For instance if the Provost of the College is from Kwara South, the Bursar may be chosen from Kwara North while the Registrar will automatically come from Kwara Central. This same arrangement is also in place at the College of Education Ilorin, the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin and the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete,” the source added.
Speaking further, the source said, “Before tenure of the Registrar of COED, Oro, Alhaji Hannafi, who hails from Kwara Central, lapsed last December, he tried to scheme out some people who are not in his good books and install his loyalist as the next Registrar without due process.
“The issue degenerated into a crisis and when it got to notice of the state government the position was advertised and anyone that qualified for the seat was asked to apply.
“Ategbese from Kwara South being the most senior administrative person available was appointed as Registrar in acting capacity. He was to hold the position for six months before the appointment of a substantive Registrar, who is expected to hail from Kwara Central given the arrangement on ground.”
The source added that about 11 people that applied for the position were sent text messages to appear for the interview which was reportedly cancelled by the state government, pending the time a Governing Council Board will be constituted for the college to take up the task of appointing the new Registrar.
He added that conventionally, acting capacity in the civil service should not extend beyond six months but the new Governing Council Chairman of the college, Prof Kenneth Adeyemi used all apparatus available to him to make Ategbese continue in office apparently due to the fact that they both hail from Ifelodun Local Government Area in the Kwara South Senatorial District.
“Our Governing Council Chairman, Prof Adeyemi violated the Federal Civil Service Regulation, specifically rule 020603 which stated that acting capacity duration must be limited accordingly.
“The decision not to appoint a substantive Registrar after the tenure of Ategbese had ended in May led to agitation by staff of the college of Kwara Central origin just as their compatriots from Kwara South were determined to seize the opportunity. They cited the case of the Registrar of College of Education, Ilorin, who is from Malete, Moro Local Government, which they wrongly claimed is from Kwara Central just as the Provost of the same institution.”
The agitation from both camps according to another reliable source was said to have caused division in the college along tribal and ethnic lines as every activity in the institution was hinged on discussion on the issue, thereby building needless tension in the citadel.
“In the midst of the agitations, a meeting of the Governing Council was held last Wednesday and everyone had expected them to set the ball rolling for the appointment of a substantive Registrar but the Chairman, Prof Adeyemi announced that he had discussed the issue with the Governor who acceded that Ategbese should continue in office for another six months,” he stated.
According to him, when the Chairman was queried by members of the board, he simply replied that the college is not financially buoyant to pay the salary of a substantive Registrar hence the decision to extend acting registrar’s tenure.
“When we did our findings, we discovered that Ategbese was actually collecting the salary of a substantive Registrar even in acting capacity. This actually contravenes the civil service rules which state that an acting officer can only be paid the allowance of a substantive officer.
Since last week that the meeting was held, there have been heightened tension in the college, a development the source claimed had defeated the objective of founding the institution.
“With such tension and polarisation of ethnicity and tribal affiliations among staff, the students will suffer as the environment can no longer be said to be conducive for learning.
“The situation is like turning a college that is supposed to be the citadel of learning to a war theatre overnight. How can the students learn under such atmosphere?,” he queried.
On the way forward, the highly placed source said if the state government is no longer interested in harmonious relationship that exist in the college then all positions should be declared for the best candidates irrespective of tribe or ethnicity.
“You know institutions of learning are now being evaluated based on customer satisfaction. All the management staff of tertiary institutions in the country should be proactive; so as to make the citadels achieve the purpose for which they were founded,” he submitted.
When contacted on telephone, last night, the Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Dr Aminat Ahmed, confirmed that the state government had earlier
scheduled an interview to pick a substantive Registrar for the college, adding that the idea was later shelved due to paucity of funds hence the directive that the Acting Registrar should continue in his role.
“We made preparation to conduct an interview for the candidates but because we were owing salaries, the state government asked us to exercise patience by allowing the Acting Registrar to continue since we cannot pay the salary of substantive Registrar,” she disclosed.
When our reporter informed the Commissioner that the said Acting Registrar was alleged to be earning the same salary as the substantive one, she replied thus; “That I’m not sure, I’ll reach out to the provost of the college, that is all I can say on the issue,” she stated.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Chairman of the Governing Council of the college, however proved abortive as calls put through his phone were not responded to and text message not replied as at the time this paper went to bed.