Minister furious over wranglings at French Language Village

2010-07-15
VANGUARD Newspaper- Emmanuel Edukugbo

The lingering feud at the Nigeria French Language Village (NFLV) where academic and non-academic staff are demanding for the removal of the Director-General, a situation which has grounded the system, is causing serious concern to the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai.

At the presentation of the report of the Ministerial Investigation Committee on the 25th June, 2010 in Abuja which investigated issues and allegations of corruption and maladministration in petitions by staff against the Director-General, Prof. Sam Aje, the education minister was said to have frowned at his continued stay in office in spite of the charged atmosphere at the institution.

According to reliable source during the presentation, she wondered what Prof Aje was still doing in the village after the damning report against him.

It should be recalled that in June 2009, both the Academic and Non-Academic staff of the Nigeria French language village, wrote petitions to the Governing Council.

The Academic staff equally sent a copy of their petition to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on the 5th of August, 2009.

In the petition, issues raised covered the whole tenure of the Director-General of the village. Such issues related to award of contracts and style of administration.
Based on the petition, the Governing council set up a committee almost immediately to investigate issues raised in the petition. The investigation panel was chaired by Elder Kwagga, then Director in the Federal Ministry of Education.

The report, after exhaustive fact finding which unearthed sordid misdeeds of corruption and administrative ineptitude, recommended that the DG be severely sanctioned, was submitted on March 11, 2010 to the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja.

At this point, the Ministry decided to set up a ministerial investigation committee headed by Prof. Segun Oke, a former vice chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, to conduct another independent investigation.

After completion of the job, the report was submitted to the current Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufai on 25th June, 2010 in Abuja.

According to reliable checks, the chairman of the ministerial panel, Prof Oke, at the presentation of his report to the education minister with the permanent secretary present, had remarked that from what he found, the current DG cannot work with human beings.

In her immediate reaction, the minister was astonished and wondered then what the embattled DG was still doing in the French village.

It was believed that the DG is enjoying some protection and cover-up by some powerful and highly placed bureaucrats at the Ministry of Education.
Instead of Implementing the recommendations of the committees that cost government over N20m for doing the jobs, the Ministry of Education seemed to have dumped the reports and advised that the current chairman of council, Hon Peter Ezenwa Orji be given two weeks to go and broker peace in the French village.

Consequently, Orji came to the village on Tuesday, 6th July, 2010 with the agenda of brokering peace holding a meeting with all teaching and non-teaching staff of the institution.

The meeting was stormy and the workers stood their grounds, insisting that the recommendations of the reports should be fully implemented.

Before meeting the staff, the Governing council chairman had met with the students who bitterly complained about the maladministration, neglect, lack of facilities and unconducive learning environment existing in the village.

Following the meeting between the council chairman and all teaching and non-teaching staff on Tuesday 6th July, 2010, a congress of NASU and Academic Staff Association was held on Wednesday 7th July, 2010.

After the congress, a communique was issued and signed by Olayiwola Simeon, Chairman, Academic Staff Association, Hammed O.W. Branch Chairman, NASU, Gadzama Grace, Branch Secretary, NASU and Afolabi Segun, Asst Secretary, Academic Staff Association.

They demanded that the report of the Ministerial Visitation Panel should be published and implemented to the letter.

That the staff are strongly resolute that Prof Aje should be removed because he has grounded the system by destroying the morale of both staff and students of this noble institution.

The present council did what they could to bring about the needed change in the institution by setting up its investigation committee. The report of that committee should be implemented.

In times like this, especially at a time God has blessed this country, with a Minister of Education that is known to have zero tolerance for corruption, there should be no sacred cow in the efforts of the ministry to right some wrongs that have tarnished the image of the ministry.

They implored the Minister of Education to implement to the letter, the various recommendations of reports submitted by the council’s investigation committee and the ministerial investigation committee.

Speaking after the congress, Olayiwola Simeon, Chairman Academic Staff Association, said that the problem of the village is the Director, who has caged the village and things can not continue like this.

“Since he came to the village seven years ago, he has refused to provide money for research. Any research done here is private. This place is no longer the centre of excellence.

At the presentation of the report, the Education Minister was said to have asked that if the Director has not been doing well, why is he still there?”

Although Prof Aje was not available to get his reaction, a management source told Vanguard Education Weekly that the DG has been doing his best for the village and that the staff should be mindful of the institution’s image, first and foremost.

“The staff should apply wisdom and patience. Nobody can fight a constituted authority. We need peace to achieve excellence and hence the chairman of council is trying to broker peace in the village.”

 

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