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Minister Contains FCET Crisis, Orders Provost’s Return to Office

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Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman

The Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, has addressed the lingering crisis rocking the Federal College of Education, Technical (FCET), Akoka, as warring parties on Thursday evening signed resolutions that included the reopening of the office of the college’s provost, Wahab Azeez, and his return to the office.

The resolutions, signed by the representatives of the ministry, the newly inaugurated governing council of the college, and the staff unions, noted that “the key to the office of the provost will be handed over to the Chairman of the Governing Council to allow for the Provost, Dr. Ademola Azeez, to resume his official functions.”

The meeting also ordered an end to the prolonged protest by the workers, even as it urged the governing council members to visit the college on Tuesday 9 July, to address the workers.

Provost of FCET, Wahab Azeez

The minister had earlier invited the provost and the warring factions, especially the leaders of staff unions on the campus, to a reconciliation meeting scheduled to hold at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

The Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, represented Mr Mamman to chair the meeting. Other ministry officials at the meeting included the Directors of Special Duties, and his counterpart in the Department of Colleges of Education, Zubairu Abdullahi, and Uchenna Uba, respectively.

The Chairman of the newly inaugurated governing council of the college, Olatunde Adenuga; Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Paulinus Okwelle; Chairman of the Committee of Provosts of Colleges of Education, Faruk Haruna, among others, were also at the meeting.

On the part of the college, apart from the provost, others in attendance included the Chairman and Secretary of the Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education, Augustin Nwachukwu and Kazeem Qadri respectively; Caretaker Chairman of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Ishola Lawal; COEASU’s suspended Chairman, Kolawole Ijadunola; Chairman of the college’s chapter of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), Olasunkanmi Alonge; NASU National Vice-President, Samuel Ogunmokun, among others.

Resolutions

Apart from the reopening of the office of the provost and his return to his duty post, the meeting also resolved that the governing council chairman, Mr Adenuga, should immediately meet with the representatives of the staff of the college at the meeting possibly for a post-meeting review.

The meeting also mandated the new council to investigate the allegation of misappropriation of funds reportedly approved for the fencing of the college.

The resolution also noted that: “The Provost should be allowed to operate under the supervision of the Chairman of the Governing Council of the College whilst all staff seize to protest forthwith.”

“On the state of offices of chief lecturers, the college should take immediate measures to improve the condition or allow them to go back to their former offices.”

It also mandated the governing council to “address the issue regarding the appointment of the bursar of the institution.”

While Mrs Uba signed the resolution on behalf of the ministry, Mr Adenuga signed for the governing council. Others who signed the resolution were the chairmen of the college’s branches of SSUCOEN and NASU, and the chairman of Caretaker Committee of COEASU, Messrs Nwachukwu, Alonge, and Lawal respectively.

Background

Since 27 May, the workers locked up the office of the provost and also issued him a quit notice from his official residence.

Led by the leadership of the Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education (SSUCOEN), FCET chapter, the protesters insisted that with the amendment of the Educational Colleges Act 2023, which introduced a five-year single term of office for provosts and other principal officers of the colleges, the tenure of Mr Azeez had ended on 26 May.

However, the provost said he was appointed for the first term of four years in 2019, and that having been duly reappointed by the institution’s governing council in 2023, he already resumed his second term in office on 27 May 2023 before the amended act was signed into law on 12 June 2023.

Following letters by the unions seeking clarification on the tenure of office of the provost based on the amended act, the Minister wrote the unions in May, affirming the legality of Mr Azeez’s second term of four years.

But the protesters ignored the minister’s verdict and continued to stage daily protests on the campus, denying management members access to their offices.

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