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As the indefinite nationwide strike declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, entered its fifth day, more local chapters of the union have joined the action. That is as students continue counting their losses, following the shutting down of academic activities in most public universities in the country. ASUU, had on Sunday, November 3, called its members across government- owned universities in the nation to embark on an indefinite job boycott over non-implementation of the 2009 Federal Government/ ASUU Agreement and the Memorandum of Action (MoA). Already, many universities, after their unions’ congresses on Monday, had since joined the strike, which they tagged: “total, comprehensive and indefinite.”
At the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife and Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Osogbo, academic activities had been grounded to a halt. But there is crack in OAU’s ASUU as the union has been factionalised due to a sharp disagreement in the leadership of the union, thereby polarizing the union into two factions.
As a result of the development, one of the factional leaders of the union, Dr. Adeola Egbedooku had, at the union’s congress, directed its members to join the strike to press home their demands of adequate funding for revitalization of public universities, among other issues. Egbedokun said: “Our union (ASUU) in OAU hereby directs that all members proceed on indefinite strike. We are resolute over the strike in OAU.” But the leadership of the other faction, tagged: Congress of Nigerian Universities (CONU), led by Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, ordered its members not to comply with the directive as their faction was not bound by the decision of ASUU. “Our members are at their duty posts. We are fully on ground to lecture our students. Since we are not part of the decision that ASUU is demanding for, we cannot be part of the industrial action.
It is only the university management that can declare that students should go home and not the responsibility of ASUU and we appeal to members and students to discountenance the directive of ASUU,” Sunmonu added. Similarly, students of the University of Ibadan (UI), and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, have been counting their losses following the strike.
However, report from the University of Benin (UNIBEN) indicated that the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities yesterday directed its members to comply totally with the nationwide strike, insisting that there was no going back on the action by the chapter. According to the Chairman of ASUU-UNIBEN, Prof. Julius Iyasele, members of the academic body, at the end of their Congress on Tuesday, resolved to join the strike in line with the directive of the National Executive Committee. Investigations by New Telegraph at the Ugbowo campus of the university, however, indicated that lectures and other academic activities had been stopped in all departments. Plans to allow students, who were supposed to defend their projects and other academic works, had been suspended as a result of the strike. But, further findings showed that students at the Engineering Department of the university were going through their technological trainings, when New Telegraph visited the institution yesterday.
The strike also grounded academic activities at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), where the local ASUU chapter accused the Federal Government of sabotaging education. The university’s union was unequivocally resolute on its stand of “no teaching, no examination, no attendance to statutory meetings” until its demands were met by the Federal Government. The branch Chairman, Christopher Echereobia had, at a press conference held in FUTO, said that the strike would have been avoided if not for the Federal Government that is steeped in double standards. Also, members of ASUU at the University of Jos (UNIJOS) and Plateau State University, Bokkos, had yesterday, adhered to the directive of the national body of the union to proceed on an indefinite strike.
New Telegraph reports that all academics activities at both universities had been put on hold, as all lecture halls were locked when New Telegraph visited the institutions. UNIJOS ASUU Chairman, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, told New Telegraphthat strong mechanism had been put in place to ensure strict compliance to the strike, as well as restrict lectures from teaching by the ASUU. Ekiti State University (EKSU) has also joined the strike. Its ASUU Chairman, Prof. Olu Olufayo, who is also the ASUU Zonal Coordinator of Akure Zone, comprising Ekiti, Akure, OAU, said: “ASUU in our zone has joined the strike since Sunday and it is still ongoing.” The story is the same at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), where the lecturers had since complied with the directive of the national leadership of the ASUU to embark on indefinite strike. Academic activities have been paralyzed in both federal- owned University of Uyo and the state-owned Akwa Ibom State University, where our correspondent observed that several lecturer offices were locked, while few students on campus were seen loitering around the campuses. The University of Uyo, which had only resumed new academic session on October 29, also joined the ASUU strike.
Students, who returned to campus, had been advised to go back home and there was no possibility of early resumption of academic activities in the university. Similarly, at the Akwa Ibom State University, Mkpat Enin, where academic activities had been paralysed due to ASUU strike, a Professor of Mass Communication, Okon Bassey, bemoaned the disruption to academic calendar by the strike, but urged government to be sincere in dealing with ASUU’s demands.
The Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna and the state-owned Ibrahim Babangida University (IBBU), Lapai have joined in the strike as directed by the national body of ASUU. According to the Chairman of ASUU-IBBU, Dr. Sallau Lawal: “We joined the strike today (Wednesday) because after receiving the directives, we had to notify our members and acquaint them with the dos and don’ts of the strike, especially what is expected on them.” Again, the Chairman of ASUU-FUT, Minna, Dr. Ndanitsa Attahiru, told the New Telegraph: “We have joined the strike since Tuesday by directing all our members to withdraw their services since the strike is total and indefinite,” he said. When New Telegraph visited University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) yesterday, academic activities at the university, bogged down by Boko Haram insurgence, were at a standstill, with few students on campus in anticipation of the outcome of the ASUU’s meeting with Federal Government. As at the time of visiting the institution, all the classrooms and lecture theatres were empty, while lecturers’ offices were locked, with the ASUU holding its congress at the ASUU Hall. Speaking shortly after the congress, the university’s ASUU Chairman, Dr. Dani Namman, said: “As you can see, we are just coming out of the meeting and our members have fully complied with strike and are in support of the action.”
The University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter of ASUU, led by Dr. Dele Ashiru, said though the university was on semester break, the congress had declared for the strike. Also, academic activities at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), had been put on hold following the union’s declaration of its compliance to the strike. The Chairman of the university’s ASUU, Dr. Fayose, said the strike was total, comprehensive and indefinite.
He stressed: “It is a national strike and it will be total because we have agreed at our congress to abide with the declaration. As a union, we met on Monday afternoon to declare our support and to join the strike. What this means is that there is no academic activities on campus. It is going to be total and any of our members that violate the action would be sanctioned appropriately.
”However, investigations by New Telegraph indicated that the story was different at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye and Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun in Ogun State, where members of ASUU were yet to join the strike. As at press time yesterday, the unions were still holding emergency congresses on the strike in which the unions were being expected to formally state their position at the end of the congresses. But, students condemned their lecturers’ action to disrupt academic activities in the university system, and appealed to the two parties in the matter to consider the plight of the students and the nation to resolve the lingering dispute.
ASUU members at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) and the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, have shunned the strike, as academic activities were going on unhindered whenNew Telegraph visited the institutions yesterday. Most of the students, who were just returning to university after their vacation and convocation, expressed readiness to learn and kicked against any form of strike that could hamper their education progress. At KWASU, officials of the institution said there was no reason for the teachers to join the strike since they have always not done so in the past. “We are fully in session, we are not on strike,” they said.
ASUU’s demands include collapse of 2017/2018 renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ ASUU agreement; failure to release operational licence to NUPEMCO; needless proliferation of state universities, non-release of about N2 trillion being arrears of revitalization fund for 2014 to 2018; Non disbursement of the forensic report on the disbursement of EAA covering the period of 2009 to 2017 to members, failure to pay arrears of shortfall in accrued salaries in universities that have been verified under PICA, increment in schoolsschools