OAU shut indefinitely over workers’ protests

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The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State was on Wednesday closed down indefinitely by the management, following pockets of protests by workers over the recent appointment of a new vice chancellor for the institution.
With this development, the newly admitted students of the university currently undergoing orientation on campus, have been ordered to vacate the school premises immediately, while the resumption of the returning students had equally been postponed indefinitely.

The Registrar of the university, Dotun Awoyemo, confirmed this to our correspondent on phone.

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According to Awoyemo, the management decided to shut down the university for the safety of both the students and staff.

He said, “We have shut down the university indefinitely, pending the time that we will resolve issues with our workers – the Non-Academic Staff of University (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (SSANU).

“We have asked our newly admitted students to go home and also postponed the resumption of the old students, indefinitely.”

Our correspondent gathered that the returning students of OAU were expected to resume next week, after a two-month break.

In a radio broadcast monitored in Osogbo, Awoyemi also announced the indefinite closure of the school.

The institution’s registrar added that the closure was to forestall a break-down of law and order on the campus due to the intensified protests by the workers.

Awoyemi therefore directed the fresh and final year students currently writing their projects, to vacate the school premises till further notice.

Our correspondent, however, gathered that as at 4pm on Wednesday, no circular has been released to the university community on the closure of the school.

Workers of the university under the aegis of SSANU and NASU had embarked on protests and strike action since June 6, after taking the institution’s authorities to court over the appointment of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ayobami Salami as the new VC.

The protesting workers had also on Tuesday appeared in red and black dresses, accusing the university’s Governing Council of imposing the new VC and vowing to prevent him from resuming office on Friday.

The university management had threatened not to pay the salaries of the protesting workers if they continued with their action.

The workers however shunned the order and resumed their protests on Wednesday, heightening tension on the campus as they barricaded all the access roads to the Senate Building of the institution and prevented free flow of traffic.

The workers vowed not to call off their action until the appointment of the new VC was reversed.

The Chairman of the OAU NASU, Wole Odewunmi had accused the university’s Governing Council of illegality in the appointment of the new VC.

Similarly, the institution’s SSANU Chairman, Ademola Oketunde said the unions were set for a showdown with the out-going VC, Prof. Bamitale Omole whose tenure would come to an end on Thursday.

But the authorities of OAU had argued that the appointment of the new VC followed due process, saying the protests by the workers were uncalled for.