The Punch

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

OOU crisis deepens as students kidnap lecturer

Francis Falola, Abeokuta

The crisis in the Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago Iwoye deepened on Tuesday as students of the institution embarked on protest against the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and kidnapped a lecturer, Prof. Gbenga Owa.


Owa, who was reputed to be the first lecturer to be engaged by the OOU authority at the inception of the university, our correspondent gathered, had been sacked by the university and was one of the affected lecturers challenging the decision in a law court.

One of the protesting students of the state-owned university, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, blamed ASUU for the over five months closure of the university, a situation, he said, necessitated the protest.

He accused the members of the union of placing personal interest above that of the students and that of the institution.

But the chairman of ASUU, Dr. Nasiru Olusola, who spoke in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Abeokuta on Tuesday, while confirming the protest of the students, accused the state government of sponsoring a section of the students to embark on the protest.

He alleged that the students were sponsored following the government awareness that ASUU's executive of the institution planned a congress for the day, where it intended to brief members of the union on the failed negotiation with the university governing council.

He said, "The staff unions of OOU had earlier met with the university governing council where some agreements were suggested by the council. We earlier had the intention of intimating other members of the union on the draft agreement suggested by the council today but we had to call off the congress following an agreement reached with Ibadan Zone of ASUU."

He said the agreement between ASUU and the government was stalled because of the unwillingness of the university council to arrive at an agreeable time table frame for paying its accrued arrears.

He also said the council failed to address the issue of about 170 sacked lecturers, adding that the university, which should have over 800 teaching staff was now left with less than 400.

Owa, while speaking in an interview with our correspondent, confirmed his abduction, saying that he was abducted by the students who dragged him to the students congress where he was interrogated by the students.

He said, "The students chanting anti-union songs abducted me and dragged me to their congress where some of them said I and my "cohorts" were the ones holding the school to ransom."

He said he faced interrogations from the students for about an hour before one of the students prevailed on his colleagues telling them that, "it is an act of injustice for them to hold me as I am one of the lecturers that they respect as being students friendly."