It was 12:27 pm on a sunny Thursday in October when our reporter arrived at Oye-Ekiti, to visit the community hosting the main campus of Federal University of Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE). The institution is one of the nine universities established by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 to address the increasing demand for university education and ensure federal balancing in the states.
FUOYE is the only institution out of the nine established universities with two campuses at the point of establishment. The main campus in Oye-Ekiti, according to Google Map, is about 27 kilometres away from the other campus in Ikole Ekiti, which is located along Lokoja-Abuja federal highway in Ekiti North senatorial district.
Ajayi Idowu, a 40-year-old young man and youth community leader sitting on a long wooden chair, said controversy started with the establishment of FUOYE when the state and federal governments were enmeshed in opposing views over the location of the institution as a result of political differences between defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
“Fayemi wanted to hijack the school from us (Oye-Ekiti); that was when the conflict started, and they took engineering and agriculture faculties to Ikole, he told THE CAMPUS REPORTER.
Sidikat Ogunshakin, an indigene and a high chief in ‘Omodowa quarters’, Ikole-Ekiti narrated the story of the establishment of the federal institution.
She said the community people were jubilating when the then Governor, Kayode Fayemi, in 2011, announced on the radio that the university should be established in Ikole. But they became sad when they heard on radio again that a sitting Senator Ayo Arise had hijacked the university to Oye. This decision, she said, was the foundation of the conflict that led to the death of two people in the community.
However, peace returned when the federal government eventually shared two faculties between Ikole and Oye. The buildings in Ikole then were better than those in Oye.
“Since then, there has not been any fight again,” she said.
On February 10, 2011, a peaceful protest degenerated into a conflict in Ikole-Ekiti following the decision of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, to relocate the newly established Federal University from Ikole Ekiti to Oye Ekiti. It led to the death of no fewer than six people with numerous wounded, as reported by Vanguard Newspaper.
Currently, the central campus of the institution is located at Oye-Ekiti, with eight faculties, while Ikole, the satellite campus, has three faculties.
Initially, Ikole community refused that a signpost carrying “Federal University of Oye-Ekiti” should be on their campus because they felt cheated, according to multiple sources who spoke to our reporter.
However, when our reporter visited the Ikole campus of the school, he discovered that a signboard indicating “Federal University of Oye-Ekiti, Ikole Campus” in Ikole-Ekiti had been erected.
Former Oye youth leader says political differences were the cause of controversies surrounding the location of the university
In an interview with our reporter, the former Vice-President of Oye Youths, Sunday Awotunya, also confirmed that political differences were the cause of controversies surrounding the university’s location between the state and federal government.
Mr Awotunya said, “There is no fight between anybody again. Even early this year, the new VC wants to start a new faculty of Environmental Science, and they have put in Ikole making three faculties and eight in Oye.
“There is no crisis anymore, they have settled everything, and everything is now going on smoothly,” he said.
Ikole people were shocked, felt cheated when Oye was announced as location of the university.
Adeyemo Adeyemi, popularly known as ‘Baba Egbe Omo-Ilu’ a traditional chief in Asin-Ekiti (Ikole) and civil servant for 10-years faulted the location of the university in Oye-Ekiti based on the connection of some bigwigs encapsulated in lobbying politically.
When Oye was announced as the location of the newly established university, it came as a surprise to the community people who felt cheated by the federal government’s action. But there was nothing they could do to change it since it was publicly announced by the Federal Government, which made them resort to demonstrations that later degenerated into crisis.
Reacting to the feud between the two communities, he said, “There is normalcy now as you can see. There is no conflict again; it’s an intellectual war.
“It has passed the stage of saying conflict between the two communities because students and elites are meeting…. It takes a lot of processes to change a university… So they are bound to be conflict and conflict resolution,” he said.
Students being treated well by the indigenes of Ikole community
Multiple students who spoke with our reporter said they had been treated well by the indigenes of Ikole-Ekiti so far, despite the controversies surrounding the university’s establishment in the community.
One of the students, 23-years old Emmanuel Oladokun, a student of Faculty of Agriculture, 400 level in Ikole campus with excitement, said he had never regretted living off-campus despite the tension around the community when he initially got admitted. He has been living peacefully and interacting with the indigenes of the community without any conflict.
Another student, Victoria Eegunranti, a 400 level student in the Mechatronics Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering who formerly stayed in the school hostel, has never regretted moving off-campus to live with the indigenes of the indigenes Ikole.
She told our reporter with excitement, “When I started living off-campus, I don’t have any trouble with the indigenes.”
There is no fight between Oye and Ikole because of university again – Ikole Traditional Leader
When our reporter visited Elekole of Ikole palace, officials told him of the absence of the traditional ruler who was in Lagos at the time of visiting but was referred to talk to one of the palace chiefs.
In an interview with Chief Aribisala Gabriel, ‘Omodowa’ and fourth in command chief in the entire Ikole-Ekiti, he explained the political controversies surrounding the establishment of the university as the cause of the conflict.
Mr Gabriel said the community people told him out of the four districts – Ikole, Ado, Ijero and Ikere created then; it was only their community that was without a higher institution. In 2010 when Governor Fayemi was campaigning for election, he had promised when there was an opportunity, he will bring a higher institution to Ikole-Ekiti.
He said the fight then in the community was severe as police vehicles were burnt, two people were killed, and others were injured severely during the demonstration against the university’s relocation. The Ikole campus of the institution is currently situated at the former Ekiti State Agriculture Development Project (ADP) building, and he told our reporter.
In a reaction to whether there had been any conflict between Oye and Ikole before establishing FUOYE, he said, “They left from here because they were under us before. Oye, Gbonyin and Ekiti East Local Government were formerly under Ekiti North Senatorial District before they were created. There is no fight between them and us at all.”
We don’t have anything against the state government or Ikole people, says Oloye of Oye
In an exclusive interview with Oba Michael Oluwole Ademolaju, Adugbole III, Oloye of Oye-Ekiti, who doubles as Chairman Oye Local Government Traditional Council and former Chairman, Ekiti State Council, he reiterated that politics was surrounding the establishment of the university.
The traditional king said the reason for the controversy, which he termed a ‘political fight’, was initially because the state government wanted the university to be located in Ikole-Ekiti while the federal government wanted Oye-Ekiti. But when the federal government announced his community as the location, the Ikole people felt cheated because the state government had promised them and resorted to demonstrations which degenerated into a crisis.
When the king was asked if there was still tension between him and the traditional ruler of Ikole-Ekiti, he said, “There is nothing like fighting. Ikole only fought one another. Nothing. We don’t have anything against the state government or the Ikole people.
“We and Ikole people are neighbours, and we do things together. That was why we agreed that the two faculties should be in Ikole. If not so we could have gone to court. Nothing in the university statutes book says there should be a satellite campus in Ikole-Ekiti”.
Support for this report was provided by Free Press Unlimited through the Campus Reporter Project of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism
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