The lives and careers of almost 200 graduates of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) in Ondo State have been stunted for one year and three months, as the institution is yet to mobilize them for their compulsory youth service.
The delay in mobilising them for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is ultimately affecting all graduates of the school across the six departments of the Faculty of Agriculture, the course division of Early Childhood Education in the Guidance and Counselling department for class 2018 and 2019. Graduates of Criminology and Security Studies for the same years are affected too.
The university finalized the accreditation for these courses in March 2020 but the students had been enrolled into the several departments long before then. Now, regularization of their certified disciplines is taking forever.
So on the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) portal, the courses they eventually did are non-existent.
First in set, last on the roll
In 2014, Jude Michael (not real name) got an offer of admission into Plant Science and Biotechnology within the Faculty of Science in AAUA. His joy was, however, short-lived by the time he completed entry registration in the university.
After paying the acceptance fee, the shocker came for him and over a hundred of his colleagues. The letter from the institution stated: “You will be changed to any of the six departments in the Faculty of Agriculture in lieu of your present course”.
Jude and others could not reverse their admission after all the efforts. “For someone like me who got in from the pre-degree programme, we were all naive,” he said.
Five years after, Jude became a part of the first set of graduates from the faculty. He is now waiting to be mobilized for service. And it is well over a year already.
His colleagues who were successfully enrolled into different faculties oin the sciences and other disciplines are already winding down their service year.
“We started raising our voices in 300 level but we were assured that the accreditation and regularization would be done before we graduated. With Plant Science on the JAMB website, different from what we eventually studied, we can’t be mobilized for service,” he lamented.
In the space of one year and a few months after dropping his pen as an undergraduate, Jude has regrettably missed two job opportunities.
“In Nigeria where jobs are scarce, I have missed two golden opportunities because nobody wants to offer me a full-time job without the NYSC certificate,” he lamented.
Dogi Ikiyouleimo Goodluck is also another person whose story relates to Jude’s. Among the first graduates of Criminology and Security Studies, he set out to study Sociology and was indeed offered that by the JAMB.
The school, he said, convinced them to study Criminology and Security Studies. Some were also converted from Political Science or Mass communication.
“It is a systemic issue the management shouldn’t have had. They put us in a department that wasn’t yet accredited. Now, a four-year course is metamorphosing into seven years. It has been frustrating for most of us’” he complained.
Goodluck has since then stayed back in the school vicinity to make a living out of data analysis and project management for final year students. Thirty-seven of them from the first set and a little above that in the 2019 class are all waiting to be dispatched.
‘We were threatened to take our course’
A 2018 graduate of Early Childhood Education from the Guidance and Counselling (G & C) department who prefers to remain anonymous accused the school of forcing them to study the course.
“We were all forced to take the course. In fact, it got so bad that it was only about five weeks before exams that we joined the classes.”
The student further established that Dr. Lawrence Gbore, who was the Head of Department at the time, “specifically threatened that if we refused to transfer to Early Childhood Education, he would make sure we didn’t graduate”.
To buttress that, Dorcas Dairo pointed out that half of them in the same 2018 set of that course division were told to change but some didn’t.
“Some of our friends who didn’t change graduated and did youth service without facing any repercussion,” she said.
Her regret is that obedience to school instruction kept delaying progress. The Second Class Upper Division graduate expressed regrets that she cannot pursue her aspiration to obtain a Master’s Degree without an NYSC discharge certificate.
Ready to Sue, Willing To Protest
With their frustration now nearing peak levels, some of these stale graduates are now ready to embark on a protest.
One of them, Ayiloge Samuel, is pained that “the school management has been saying the same thing over the years”.
“I have personally called the Vice Chancellor but he stopped answering my calls after a while,” he said. “If we don’t hear anything by February 8, which is the deadline they gave us, I will lead a protest from the school gate. Nobody will be able to stop me, not even the Ondo State government.”
Samuel said he may also sue the school unless things are rectified soon.
No sharp practices in admission — AAUA
Professor Francis Gbore, the former Dean of Student Affairs who was also the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University until last month, told FIJ that the school management was “on top of the situation”.
“The university is on top of the situation. The current Vice Chancellor is doing all he can to ensure the issues are rectified as soon as possible. The students should only worry if there were no assurances for them,” he said.
On regularization and NYSC mobilization, he said: “There were no sharp practices in their admission. If the university had done some of them a favour by giving them admission when they had issues with their O’level combination, the latter shouldn’t turn around because of the little challenges.”
Gbore revealed that he led a team appointed by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Olugbenga Ige, to the National University Commission office in Abuja in November 2020 to sort out everything.
When the university’s Vice Chancellor was contacted for comment on the matter, he referred this reporter to the Dean of Students Affairs.
The DSA, Professor Segun Owolewa told FIJ that the university was still engaging the NUC on the issue. He added that his team would soon return to Abuja for further talks.
Ibrahim Usman Yakasai, spokesman of the National University Commission spokesman, distanced the regulatory body from the irregularities at AAUA.
“If the students were irregular for any reason, the university knows what to do to make them regular. NUC doesn’t admit nor graduate,” he said.
“If the university started a programme without approval, that is their problem — not ours. When a school applies to start a programme, NUC will send in a team to verify if there are human and material resources in place to commence it in deed and thereafter issue approval date which will be transmitted to JAMB and NYSC. The approval date will read from that period onward. If that procedure is breached, we have no hand in that. It’s the university’s problem.”
He advised the students to write a petition to their university and resolve the matter internally or take other legal actions within their reach.
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