By Muftau Gbadegesin
Oyo State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) seems to be at an impasse. Twelve solid months of promising fair, transparent and open recruitment into the post primary schools in the state have created an environment of mutual mistrust, disappointment and resentment. And as it stands, an end to that artificial standstill is not near. What led to this gridlock despite resources channeled to that exercise — and assurances from all quarters continue to be a mystery. But the effects of this administrative malfeasance, and systemic infraction on the psyche of teachers and students and the system itself will take years to counteract. Add to this is the subtle, and fundamental question on the lips of stakeholders asking silently and boldly: what’s exactly wrong with Oyo TESCOM?
In November, 2020. TESCOM boss, pastor Akinade Alamu updated the public about the ongoing Teacher recruitment exercise on Fresh Fm Ibadan. In that interview, Pastor Alamu was reported to have said “appointment letters of five thousand successful applicants with approval from the Governor are ready and that distribution will start in a week time”. That bold declaration rekindled the fleeting spirit in the system and the administration of Engineer Seyi Makinde which surprisingly and shockingly turned the electoral tide in the state from the ruling APC. With that declaration in mind, most of the successful candidates resigned to prepare for the rigors of their next assignment from previous jobs.
“I resigned from my previous job at a private school the moment that announcement was made by TESCOM boss ” Tola Oguntola told me “I did that to prepare myself, mentally, physically, psychologically and intellectually for the task ahead”. He paused, heaved a sigh, then further “I trust the system to deliver as promised and trust the Government to walk its talk — at least relatively, optics were right in that direction”. The result of that absolute trust as many I interviewed for this story echoed was a metastasis from appointment to disappointment and to resentment against the system which appeared sluggish at best — and clunky, and unpredictable at worst.
As part of his campaign manifesto, Governor Seyi Makinde promised the dawn of a new era that will create jobs and revitalize Education in the state. While delivering his inaugural speech on the 29th of May, 2019, the Governor ordered the cancellation of the levies imposed on public school students by former Governor Abiola Ajimobi. That cancellation being his first ‘omituntun’ agenda was soon to be followed by flurry of policy actions notable among which was the recruitment of teachers.
That recruitment, findings revealed was aim at boosting work force in schools — while reducing work load on stale teachers across the state. And by February 2020, application forms to that effect were made public for free while a consulting firm was employed to sort and sift mould of data of applicants across zones in the state. The result of that week long sifting was a reduction in the number of invited applicants for the screening exercise at Ibadan. Sun Newspaper quoted the state commissioner for Education as saying a mind blowing ninety one thousand (91,000) people applied for the seven thousand teaching (7,000) jobs with TESCOM boss, Pastor Alamu declaring that only sixty five thousand (65,000) candidates eventually sat for the test.
In all, eight percent, representing about six thousand (6000) sailed through after scoring above the cut off mark of fifty percent. This whittling down of applicants to a considerable and manageable chunk was expected to make subsequent exercise simple, seamless and swift. But a year since that form was released, the exercise has been caught and fraught in crossfire between different forces.
“There was an attempt to sabotage the whole TESCOM process by people who felt the Governor is becoming increasingly apolitical in his dealings” a political analyst informed me “because recruitment exercise has always been an avenue for Politicians to reward their cronies, and hangers-on, the Governor’s disposition was considered off-kilter”. Names of candidates who scored less than fifty were smuggled into TESCOM data base. That flagrant contravention prompted the Governor to swung into action. The outcome of that brave step has manifested in various political spats within the party’s rank and files.
On the 1st of February, 2021. TESCOM began the rolling out of appointment letter almost four months after its initial announcement. Of the five thousand successful applicants, only 4,423 collected their letters. The remaining merit based 577 have theirs still pending. But on Tuesday, 6th of April, another batch of applicants got their letters leaving behind three hundred and twenty three (323) behind again?! “I think something insidiously clandestine is going on at TESCOM” Ahmed Abdullahi, a successful applicant whose name is on merit list but yet to have his letter noted in one of our interview “or how else will you describe a situation where you applied for a job with same name, same email address. Sat for CBT under same identities. Then showed up for interview under same consistent credentials. Then, while others have their letters, even those whose names were not on the merit list and also not on the commission portal have theirs, yours, with the public exhibition of your identity was delayed because there is an error on your name. Where does that error emanated from despite traveling to TESCOM office for verification and clarification?”.
This, no doubt, is a tough and difficult time for those who have worked for three months but yet to have a penny; and more tough for those who just got their letters without direction as to what next — and excruciatingly tougher for those, on the merit list, who wait helplessly and endlessly to have their legitimate letters of appointment from TESCOM. In other words, there is more for the Governor to lose on all fronts if this ethical misconduct is allow to go scot-free than he will gain. “He who must come with equity”, we can as well remind the Governor, “must come with clean, open and transparent hands”.