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The Public Service; Lesson And Struggle; An Account Of My Short Spell As Pioneer Special Assistant On Student’s Matters To The Government Of Ekiti State

By Adeolu Oyebode
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PREAMBLE:
It is indeed an ample opportunity to be called upon to serve one's state at a tender age among the political appointees in the history of our dear Ekiti State and with a vision-driven team of patriotic Ekiti sons (with all modesty, the best that has ever been paraded by any Government of Ekiti State) led by a thinking Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. I think my appointment raised dusts and media attention because it came at a time that the youth needed representation and who is fielded may either convince subsequent leaderships to involve young agile men to occupy policy formulation seats for their generation or not; not the very old people deciding their (youth) fate.

ACCOUNT OF STEWARDSHIP:
As expected on assumption into office, a blueprint of action plan was submitted to Mr Governor for the remaining few months to the expiration of the first four (4) years of Mr. Governor's mandate and hopeful of a renewal by the people, considering the unprecedented achievements recorded by the Government of Ekiti State, led by Dr. John Kayode FAYEMI. In the blueprint, the following were opined:

• Democratization of ALL Students' Unions in Ekiti State.

• Review of Bursary and Scholarship Processes
• Enlarged Students' Stakeholders Holders Meeting across the 16 local government areas and Students unions Governments of Ekiti State institutions (both public and private).

• Review of non-tuition fees payable in Ekiti State University.

• 3-day Regular International Leadership Training for Students' Leaders of Ekiti State.

• Christmas and New Year Package for all Students' Unions across the 16 local governments and the tertiary institutions.

• Uninterrupted government support of Students and Student's Organisations

• Organization of JKF Free-Summer School
• Civic Orientation for SS2 and SS3 students in preparation for the 2014 elections.

• Distribution of Buses for Students' Unions, NANS Joint Campus Committee Ekiti State and FESSU

But resuming work fully, there were already crisis-related issues among the students that needed urgent attention of the government which I waded into immediately and appropriately resolved, while these blueprints were also keenly pursued within the capacity of my desk. Some of which were:

a. The fractionalization of the indigenous student's association (FESSU) into National Association of Ekiti State Students' (NAESS) which was resolved.

b. After the 2013/14 session FESSU election, a post election crisis between Abayomi ABEGUNDE (2young) of Ekiti State University Ado-Ekiti and Tosin OGUNKUADE (Jasper) of University of Ilorin, on the legitimacy of the election and who genuinely won the election and rerun election, which took place on 28th September and 8th October 2013 respectively in Ado-Ekiti. It took the intervention of the office to resolve the crisis alongside some principal aides of the Governor, after which the legislative arm of the student body in its 16th November 2013 Olubunmo Adegoke School of Health Orin-Ekiti resolution, officially affirmed the leadership of Moses ABEGUNDE (2young) as the authentic president.

c. A serious leadership vacuum erupted in FESSU due to the Failure of Mr. Victor Olalere ABAJINGIN (the outgoing president) to properly hand over FESSU properties (Buses inclusive), which led to his arrest, detention and prosecution at the State High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti by the incoming executives. The office waded into the matter and brought the matter under control, and the outgoing President, properly handed over the union properties with a trust note submitted to the office of the Special Assistant Student's Matters.

d. The Proscription of Student Union Governments in the two major tertiary institutions in Ekiti State, ditto Ekiti State University Ado-Ekiti and College of Education Ikere-Ekiti. The office approached the Vice Chancellor of EKSU and the Provost of the College to the effect of the SUGs re-instatement and as at the time of this report, the SUG of EKSU has been reinstated after intense lobbying, pressure while the provost of the college also conducted same in the last few months.

After addressing all these issues, some other pro-student policies and actions were embarked upon, which were in consonance with the education and human capital development of the 8-point agenda of Mr. Governor's four (4) year mandate. They were:

e. Review of 2012/2013 Bursary and Scholarship Processes: The delay in the academic calendar of the tertiary institutions in Nigeria as a result of the protracted ASUU industrial action and the unending protests and mass actions of the students of Ekiti State University led to the inability of the State Government, via the State Bursary and Scholarship Board to pay up the 2012/2013 scholarship and bursary because the session continued in 2014 by most schools. The office had to facilitate series of meetings with the Executive Secretary of the Ekiti State Scholarship Board on the instance of the series of complaints from the students, represented by the FESSU Leadership; issues range from the inability of the student body to collect the forms from the students in bulk due to the ASUU Strike, extension of the submission date of the forms till March 2014 in a bid to avoid any unrest as a result of the bursary submission challenge, payment schedule of the bursary, diligence in the process and guarantee of accountability in all. To the best of the office influence, the date was extended till March 2014, the students' body (FESSU) was involved in all the processes of bursary (except the screening of the forms), the payment was resolved to the e-payment because some schools (like EKSU) were alleged to hoard the 2011/2012 bursary funds and the payment of the bursary commenced on Thursday 19th June 2014, with over 5,000 students benefitting from the bursary scheme, out of about 7,000

f. Based on the need to make information available for the student and also know their plight without necessarily facing the bureaucratic huddles of government, the office was made more accessible by setting up interactive platforms on the two prominent social media, ditto Facebook: www.facebook.com/EkitiSAstudents and Twitter: www.twitter.com/EkitiSAstudents.

The pages have over 1000 likes and above 400 followers respectively.

g. It should be recalled that an approval was given by the Governor for the sponsorship of 100 students of Ekiti State campuses and origin to attend the 8th Ake Arts and Book Festival, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto Abeokuta in Ogun State on Friday 22nd November 2013 with each of the students entitled to N20, 000-book voucher to purchase any literature and textbook of their choice in a bid to re-ignite the reading culture of our students.

h. The office supported and represented Mr. Governor in the 'Save Education Rally' organised by the NANS Joint Campus Committee Ekiti State and the Federation of Ekiti State Students' Union (FESSU) on the 17th Novemeber 2013, round the major streets of Ado-Ekiti, the State Capital, and a dinner with Mr. Governor was facilitated for the student leaders. (Find as reported in news blog as www.dareadaramoye.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/save-education-the-future-ekiti-students-begs-federal-government/ ).

i. The office has been involved in the facilitation of series of courtesy visits and Ekiti State Student expedition tour, most especially the students schooling outside Ekiti State. Examples which were the courtesy visit and Ikogosi tourist expedition of Federation of Ekiti State Students' Union of University of Ilorin, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomoso, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ekiti State University among other chapters of FESSU. The non-indigenous student bodies aren't also left behind. Some of which included the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) [Axis, Zonal, National and Senate], the National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) and the Architecture Students' Association of Nigeria.

j. As part of the mentorship and support measures for building the successor generation, the Government of Ekiti State via this office supported the candidacy of the Ekiti State ticket of NANS at the 2013/2014 NANS' South West (Zone D) Convention and Comrade Sunday Asefon of Ekiti State University was returned as the South West Coordinator of NANS at the Zonal Convention held at Osun State College of Education Ilesha, Osun State. The victory of Sunday Asefon added a feather to Ekiti cap, as he became the first Ekiti son, schooling in Ekiti campus to be coordinator of NANS in the South West. The outgoing and incoming executives among other stakeholders were hosted by the Government of Ekiti State between 22nd-24th December 2013 to officially present the new leadership and submission of the organisation's action plan for supports and sponsorship.

k. The office with the support of the Deputy Governor organised a special prayer session, having the students of Ekiti state, drawn from various quarters to intercede to God, for a divine intervention on the protracted ASUU, ASUP and COEASU strike that lasted for months. Her Excellency Prof. Modupe ADELABU led the prayer session at the Lady Jibowu Hall.

l. The office facilitated a meeting with HERITEK SUPPORT SERVICES (km 4, iworoko road, opposite Olawuwo petrol station Adebayo area, Ado-Ekiti, contact number 08033306083) in cooperation with Educational Advancement Centre, in a bid to organise and promote the “School on Air”, where every secondary student who couldn't afford to go to school or miss classes can always get trained via the Cable school at no cost. A copy of the letter and proposal was forwarded to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, for review and advice and also to inculcate into the E-school policy of the Government of Ekiti State that is expected to be flagged off in 2014.

m. The office also had a Youth Investment and Development meeting with the Ekiti Parapo Lagos group on Wednesday 11th December 2013, in a bid to encourage successful Ekiti indigenes in the Diaspora to heavily invest in the Ekiti youth and students as a means to develop the succession generation.

n. The office has also served as a veritable institution to reach Mr. Governor and also draw Mr. Governor to events, on representation as invitations from various student bodies and youth associations across the state has sent invitations which were well attended. The invitations included among others, Dinner, Public Lecture, Debate, Seminar and Workshop, ranging on topical issues on Public Service, Leadership, Students Empowerment, Governance etc.

o. I also want to recall that Mr. Governor and the Government of Ekiti State has met with some of the demands within the reach of her purse, some of which included the donation of student union bus to EKSU student's union, NANS Joint Campus Committee, Federation of Ekiti State Student's Union (were once given during the 1year anniversary of Mr. Governor), the SUG of EKSU and College of Education has been reinstated, the 75% of the 2012/2013 bursary has been paid, Comrade Seyi IBILOYE was appointed as Technical Assistant Administration to the Governor [office of the Deputy Chief of Staff] among others.

p. The office in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology organised Free UTME coaching and distribution of dummy disks for answering UTME-Computer based tests (CBT).

q. The office also published the Government Policy Interpretation leaflet on the issue of 50,000 tuition fees and the Giant Strides of JKF in EKSU.

r. The office successfully facilitated different meetings of student bodies (Local Government Structures, State, Regional and National) as proposed in the blueprint submitted. The meetings were held severally at Jibowu Hall of the Government House, Adesua Lodge of the CoS and Governor's office, chaired by the likes of Bimbo DARAMOLA of the House of Representatives, Chief Yemi ADARAMODU (the CoS), Egghead ODEWALE (Deputy CoS), Hakeem ABIOLA (Mr. Governor's Chief Security Officer), and His Excellency Mr. Governor himself.

s. The proposed civic orientation for SS2 and SS3 students in preparation for the 2014 elections was achieved in partnership with the Ekiti State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and this is visible as to the effect that there was no casualty in our primary and secondary schools before, during and after the 21st June 2014 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State.

t. It may be very little, but it is not ignorable that the students of Ekiti State (all Students' Unions across the 16 local governments and the tertiary institutions) ably represented by the Association of Ekiti State Local Government Student Unions, NANS Joint Campus Committee and all the Students' Unions in Ekiti State were also included in the 2013 Christmas and New Year Package, like every other recognised bodies and unions.

u. The office proposed to Mr. Governor that 100 of Ekiti indigent students should be trained on vocational and skill acquisition programmes which was redirected on Mr. Governor's discretion for MTN empowerment scheme and 100 of our students benefitted from the scheme. (Find appendix XIII and XIV)

2.0 UNFINISHED ASSIGNMENT:
i. International Leadership Training for Students' Leaders of Ekiti State.

ii. JKF Free Summer School for Secondary Schools during the holidays

iii. Review of non-tuition fees payable in EKSU
iv. Distribution of buses for College of Education Ikere, School of Nursing Ado, College of Health Technology Ijero, FESSU, Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti and South West Leadership of NANS, as promised.

3.0 COMMENDATIONS:
The creation and the activities of the office of Special Assistant to the Governor on Student's Matters got some commendations, to the credit of the Governor and the Government of Ekiti State Nigeria, which has supported the activities of the office to a fault. Some of the commendations among others are:

a. The Federation of Ekiti State Students' Union of the Obafemi Awolowo University commended the office by presenting the “Youth Leadership Award 2013/2014” on the SA students.

b. The Federation of Ekiti State Students' Union presented a letter of appreciation dated 17/3/2014 in respect of the roles played on bursary collection and processing, duly signed by Adaramoye Zaccheus (President) and Omoleye Tosin (General Secretary).

c. Congratulatory letters by the Vice Chancellor, Ekiti State University and ORBITSOFT International Services.

d. Award of Honor by Bells University Students' Association for the delivery of the lecture titled “Students' Emancipation; Job Creation and the Challenge of Building a Knowledge-based Nigeria” at the commemoration of the International Students' day on 27th November 2013.

e. Plague of honor by the National Association of Ikere Students (NAIS) on 14th December 2013

f. Award of Merit by the National Union Government of the Federation of Ado-Ekiti Students' Union on 21st December 2013

g. 2013/2014 Merit Award by the Federation of Ekiti State Students' Union of Federal Polytechnic Offa

PUBLIC SERVICE EXPERIENCE:
Although I had a very short time in the public service, precisely 7months before the election, I see the opportunity as a very rare one and one which gives an insight into how the system operates for my own generation to share. For a serious public servant, the public service isn't a tea-party: tasky, challenging, demanding and demeaning as you are exposed to criticisms (constructive and destructive) and most importantly your ability to live up to your guiding principles, philosophy and ideology in the comity of different individuals, with different motives, passion, drive and interests, even on the same assignment.

To the Glory of the Almighty God, I have tried my entire best possible, not to disappoint myself, my religious faith as a Christian, my family, socialist organization/comrades and admirers. Even though I know that some individuals could have demanded that I shut my lips during the campaigns, I want to humbly say that the best sacrifice for leadership is loyalty (Loyalty to the led and the followed). I belief that JKF has done the best he could do within the 4-year stated in the law, he has also put down some legacy projects on his name, though very imperfect like every other person; the fact remains that if these critics were in my shoes, they would have done more than I did.

I want to sincerely appreciate those who stood by me during this assignment of my life (first test of public service), my parents and first family, Mr and Mrs Oyebode-Sanusi, my supervisory officers: Yemi Adaramodu Chief of Staff and his deputy Egghead Odewale, my father-in the lord Pastor Sunday Onipede, my friend and comrades: Yetunde, Deji Adesogan, the Aribasoyes, The Okunugas, Deji Akerele, Adegbenro, All SUGs (EKSU, COEI, FEDPOLY, School of Nursing, Health Technology Ijero, Crown Poly Odo, Fabotas, FUOYE/IKOLE, ABUAD etc) Asefon-led Zone D, Bewaji-led JCC, Abegunde-led FESSU, the OK-ladies and Nitori Erelu Movement, Tosin Ogunkuade, Erinfolami-led AESLGSUP, Adesoji-Angelgabby, Abajingin, Ologundudu, Aseere, Tosin Alabi, Kehinde, Tope Idowu, all Social Media bloggers and Journalists, my critics and allies, staffs in office, the APC political family members and all others I can't mention because of space. I must say that I can't but thank you all!

To those that I offended by action and inactions in the course of my official activities in person or officially, please kindly pardon me, to those that felt I fell short of expectation at some point, let us not forget that only God is Omnipotent and to others that critiqued me constructively, I am most grateful for drawing me to the track always.

In conclusion, let me not but say this: I wish the new Governor of Ekiti State, His Excellency Governor Peter Ayodele FAYOSE, the wisdom and knowledge to paddle the canoe of Ekiti State. There are indeed lessons in victory and defeat!

Most importantly, many thanks to my Governor, Dr. Fayemi for giving me this opportunity to serve my dear State and to be part of good history, while with the grace of the benevolent God I explore better opportunities in this life-teaching world. Life itself is Lesson and Struggles!

Thank You!
Adeolu OYEBODE
Pioneer and Former Special Assistant (Student's Matters) to the Governor, Ekiti State.

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