To foster harmonious working relationship in the University, the Governing Council has held an informal interaction with all the staff unions’ executive members in the University, namely: Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU). The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Dr. Barr. Aboki Zhawa, said that whether one liked it or not, there would always be a meeting point, asking that when an ASUU member is put beside a member of another union, what would happen?

According to him, “We should understand the fact that whether you like it or not, there’s a meeting point”. The Pro-Chancellor further stated that the world is a stage, where everyone must play a part, noting that one should not be negative. He said: “If you can’t contribute to the system, don’t ground the system. God didn’t put you in that position to destroy, but to lead. If we must serve together, we must start leading together”. Generally speaking, Dr. Zhawa stressed that every ethnic nationality claimed that they had been marginalised in the country, deflating the feeling that only one section has been marginalised. He, however, said he expected an enhanced relationship among all the staff unions, within the next six months.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, had lauded the Pro-Chancellor for mooting the idea of informal interactive session, adding that the University had never had such an opportunity. He noted that the parley was a manifestation of the fact that the University was fast evolving, praying that the expected bonding should continually be strengthened. He stated further that no system could move forward except there was agreement, understanding, mutual respect and a level of trust that grows over time, noting that, “We should create a basis for interaction among ourselves”. According to him, the event was not merely a time for talking but an opportunity for everyone to relax and foster collaboration. Professor Enikuomehin, therefore, said that the Governing Council was desirous of providing a meeting point for the system to move forward.The Chairman, ASUU-UNAAB, Dr. Adebayo Oni, assured the Governing Council and the University administration of his Union’s commitment at working congenially with them in moving FUNAAB to greater heights.

Dr. Oni added that his Union would continue to ensure that its activities and events uplift the University academically, while making sure that the best was accorded its members. According to him, “We would also use this medium to implore the Council to ensure transparency, fairness and compliance with our extant laws”. The Chairman, NAAT, Comrade Oluremi Olurinde, said that the Governing Council had started well, praying that it would end well. According to him, “For us, this Council members are starting well and I pray you will end well. By the time this Council would be handing over, we shall all gather like this, to celebrate the achievements recorded”. Speaking further, Comrade Olurinde said that since the newly-appointed Pro-Chancellor stepped his foot on the University, the campus had been enjoying peace. According to him, “Since we got the wind of your appointment and since you stepped your foot into this campus, we’ve been enjoying relative peace.

We cannot have anybody better than your kind of personality at this moment that we have in FUNAAB and we pray that God will give you the wisdom and the courage to paddle the canoe of FUNAAB, to a safe destination”.

He pleaded with Council to put a stop to the practice of locking up laboratories by 4pm, as opposed to the normal system of running laboratories for 24 hours, to support research, while assuring Council of its backing at ensuring that the tripodal mandate of the University was achieved. The Chairman, NASU, Comrade Ishaq Odunjo, buttressed the importance of peace, saying that the essence of a university was to serve as centre of academic excellence, while bringing up useful ideas on how to produce good leaders for the country. “There is no doubt in it that we need peace, not only between unions, Management and Council, but also among the respective unions”, he added. Comrade Odunjo further stated that to maintain peace, the welfare and career structure of staff must be adequately protected and enhanced by the Council, noting that in the usual habit of NASU, the peace of the University was very dear and that his union would continue to promote and stand for peace. He expressed NASU’s willingness to work with Management to achieve progress, development and University’s objectives.

Similarly, the Chairman, SSANU, Comrade Rotimi Fasunwon, stated that it was a rare opportunity for all to come together, adding that “In my 14 to 15 years of working in this University, I have never partaken in this kind of programme”. Comparing the University of Ibadan with FUNAAB, Comrade Fasunwon said that in UI, unionists play like brothers and sisters and they access loans together, without recourse to which union one belonged to. “We use to hear; FUNAAB is a family school and that is the story I used to hear. I grew up to know that FUNAAB is a family school. Well, we know that even within the family, brothers and sisters do fight, husbands and wives do fight, but they know how to settle it”. Agreeing to the fact that there should be peace in the University, the Chairman stressed that “I think we’ve come to that point in FUNAAB that we can just close our eyes to what has happened before and forge ahead, for the development and progress of this University”.

After the four union leaders had spoken, the Council members present at the parley also offered various words of wisdom. According to Dr. Yakubu Tor-Agbidye, the University had been lucky to have a Pro-Chancellor, who was very experienced alongside a young and dynamic Acting Vice-Chancellor. Reiterating the need for congenial working relationship, Dr. Tor-Agbidye said that, “Look at the human body; it is made up of many different parts. The eyes look different from the nose. The ears are different from the mouth and the rest parts, but each part that is found on the body, has a function and because all the functions come together, they make you and I, human beings that could function. When we find ourselves in an environment that has a lot of categories of people; it is not a mistake. Each one of us has found ourselves here because God has designed it, before anybody here was born. He noted that, God brought all of us here, irrespective of our work, God purposefully made it that way. Each of us that came here, has a divine role. We play our roles and each person plays his/her roles that come together distinctively and form the University’s workforce”.

He said that people come together from different parts of the world, to work in the University. So, one should learn how to live with each other peacefully, noting that the University had gone through the stages of forming, storming, normalising and now, it was time to perform. In his reaction, another Council member and the Director, Information and Communications Technology Resource Centre (ICTREC), Professor Adesina Agboola, said that in the spirit of reconciliation, people should work together in the interest of the system. Similarly, Dr. Femi Olufunmilade alluded to a verse in the Holy Bible, which says; “There is time for everything under the sun”, noting that the time for peace in the University was now and that no single person could promote peace alone. According to him, “It is a collective enterprise. So, let us all – individually and collectively – go back, think and act in the direction of peace. When there is peace, there’ll be progress and everybody will be happy”.

Corroborating his fellow Council members, the University Chaplain, Professor Christian Ikeobi, stated that the essential thing was to find a meeting point and move ahead. “We can only do that by corroborating what has been said, by working out peace. We don’t have permanent friends but we should have permanent interest, which I think is the most important thing. And the interest is the progress and development of the University. So, I enjoin all groups that at times, we’ll lose and at times, we gain. But we’ll all reach our Promised Land”. Also, the Dean, College of Environmental Resources Management (COLERM), Professor Clement Adeofun, said that the University “is our pot of soup”. While making a strong case for the establishment of FUNAAB Staff Club within the main campus, Professor Adeofun said there was no problem with the University, adding that staff unions should gauge, weigh, analyse and assess all extraneous factors and make use of the good ones while the destructive ones would be done away with.