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ASUU strike: Varsity chapters comply with directive

• Academic activities grounded at UI, UNICAL, others
• Other ASUU chapters to join today in solidarity
• UNN workers, management in show down over allowances

Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in most universities across the country late Monday afternoon complied with the directive of the national leadership of the union to embark on nationwide strike over welfare demands and Federal Government’s indifference to negotiated agreements.

The leadership of the union had earlier on Monday ordered its members to proceed on an indefinite strike.

ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, had told newsmen in a crowded press conference that the failure of the union to get the Federal Government to fulfill its promises through series of letters and consultative meetings necessitated the decision to embark on indefinite and compressive strike effective August 13, 2017.

He said: ’’Consequently, based on nationwide consultation with our members, an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council of ASUU rose on Saturday 12 August with a resolution to embark on indefinite strike action starting from Sunday, August 13, 2017.

The nationwide action is total and comprehensive. During the strike, there shall be no teaching, no examination, and no attendance of statutory meetings of any kind in any of our branches’’.

Findings by The Daily Times showed that many chapters of the union downed tools on Monday almost immediately they received news of the directive while others are likely to follow suit today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday).

The University of Ibadan chapter of the union on Monday downed tools in compliance with the directive of ASUU national leadership.
A visit to the campus by our correspondent on Monday confirmed it.

Students were seen in groups discussing the situation of things, lamenting the unpredictable academic calendar they and their colleagues in other higher institutions are being subjected to.

The Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr. Oladejo was not on seat and did not pick calls made to him as our correspondent tried to get his reaction on the ASUU strike.

Also, the ASUU PRO was said to have gone to a strategic meeting on the matter at hand by an informed source in his office who did not want his name in print.

Source, however, told our correspondent that the union will hold a congress at the UI campus today (Tuesday) after which the newsmen would be briefed on the way forward.

“I can’t say much right now. But what I can tell you is that the strike is on. ASUU is going to hold a congress on Tuesday (today) after which journalists would be briefed on the way forward.

“ASUU is serious with its demands. There would be no compromise. Lecturers have been cooperative so far and we are assured that our demands would be met,” he said.

At the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, the strike has partially commenced on Monday as some lecturers did not turn up for class.

According to a student of the university, the second examination was to start in two weeks’ time, on August 28 to be precise, saying information reaching students had it that whether the examination will take place or not depends on the teachers as students are still waiting for their decision before August 28.

The student, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said “it is very clear that some of the lecturers have joined the strike because as at Monday, some lecturers refused to teach while others taught the students ahead of our forthcoming examination. But we were reliably informed that the lecturers would soon meet to take a definite position on the matter.”

At the University of Calabar (Unical), Cross River State, the members of ASUU also on Monday joined their counterparts in other universities in the nationwide strike action.

Our correspondent who visited the university on Monday observed that ASUU members abandoned classes while students were seen roaming the streets in the university.

Sources hinted our correspondent that at the meeting of the union’s congress held last Thursday, about 500 people who attended the congress voted in support of a total strike and 22 voted for two weeks’ warning strike while nine voted against the strike.

When The Daily Times visited the office of ASUU Chairman, University of Calabar branch, the Chairman, Comrade Tony Eyang, was not in the office and refused to pick his calls and when a text message was sent to him, he replied, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, pls thanks”.

There was total compliance with the directive by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka branch of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday.

No lecturer in the university attended lecture or administered examination on Monday at the university, hence students were seen loitering around the lecture hall.

The Chairman of the institution’s ASUU branch, Dennis Aribodor, when called to speak on the strike did not pick his call.
But some of the students who spoke to The Daily Times appealed to both the Federal Government and the union to resolve the matter to avoid the long closure of universities in the country.

Grace Onyekwelu, a 300 level student of the institution, said “when ASUU and Federal Government quarrel, it is the students that will suffer”.

At the Lagos State University (LASU), members of ASUU were yet to fully comply with the indefinite strike declared by the ASUU national leadership on Monday.

Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi, ASUU-LASU Chairman told The Daily Times on Monday that the chapter received the information on the strike late.
Oyewunmi said the executive members of the union in the institution would meet later today (Tuesday) while a Congress had been summoned for Wednesday to officially declare the strike in the university.

“The strike has begun as directed by the ASUU national because it not optional, but we just want to tidy up one or two things before complying fully.

“Be assured that by Wednesday after our Congress, the chapter will comply 100 per cent as directed and it will be total, comprehensive and indefinite,” he said.

Oyewunmi said the chapter was also using Monday and Tuesday (today) to do the needful and notify the university management on the strike as expected.

Earlier at the students’ week organised by the Lagos State University Students Union (LASUSU), the Vice Chancellor expressed displeasure at the population of students that attended the first day of the five-day activities, saying many of them thought the ASUU strike had commenced.

He confirmed that some students were writing examination on Monday while he called for order on campus as he encouraged students to turn up en masse for their event, adding that everything is in order.

Also, the University of Jos chapter of the union, on Monday, said it will join its counterpart across the federation to embark on the strike as directed by it national body today (Tuesday).

It said the reason for non-compliance on Monday is because the members of the chapter who went for the briefing in Abuja were yet to return to brief them on the outcome of the decision from the national body.

A lecturer from the Department of Engineering who did not want his name on print told our correspondent that academics and exams are currently in progress in the institution.

“Our students are currently writing their exams and other academics are in progress, but as soon as we receive directive from our state council, which may likely be today (Monday), we will commence the strike action tomorrow (Tuesday)”, he said.

However, all efforts to reach the Chairman of the Plateau State Chapter of ASUU was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the Anambra State University (ANSU) branch of the union, on Monday, said if by Wednesday the Federal Government and union’s national leadership fails to resolve the issue, it will join the national body to embark on the indefinite strike.

Speaking to our correspondents on telephone, a lecturer in the department of Mass Communication, Mr. Chinenye Nwabueze, said that the ASSU-ANSU chapter is set to put all academic activities in the school on hold following the directive of its national leadership.

He said that the lecturers are striking because of poor funding of universities, part-payment of salaries of lecturers among others.

At the University of Nigeria Nsukka, academic activities was skeletal on Monday following the indefinite nationwide strike embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Efforts made by The Daily Times to speak with ASUU-UNN Chairman, Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Abada, proved abortive as calls put across to his mobile phone was not answered.

At the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, it could not be ascertained if the strike had commenced fully because the university is on break having concluded its second semester examination two weeks ago.

Speaking with The Daily Times, Public Relation Officer of the institution, Mrs. Emi Alaode, said since the school is on second semester break, it could be ascertained that lecturers have commenced the nationwide strike until the school resumes in two weeks’ time.

However, when The Daily Times visited the campuses of University of Abuja on Monday, lectures were going on at both the permanent site and the mini- campuses. Sandwich students were seen taking their lectures while the Remedial science students were seen writing their terminal examinations.

In another development, administrative activities have been paralyzed following the indefinite strike declared on Monday by the Joint Action Committee of Non-Teaching Staff Trade Unions (JAC) of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

Members of signed the resolution to embark on the indefinite strike include SSANU Chairman, Comrade Paul Erua; NAAT Chairman, Comrade Emma Mbaoji and NASU Chairman, Comrade Clifford Amoke respectively.

Addressing members of non- teaching staff, the chairman of JAC, Comrade Paul Erua, said they were embarking on the strike owing to the failure of the university to pay them their deserved allowances which includes hazard allowance, over time, shift allowance, union check-off dues as well as payment of 15% percent deducted June salary among others.

‘’We are embarking on this indefinite strike as a last resort after every attempt by JAC to make the University meet our demands failed.

‘’We gave the University five days and after that another 21 days to enable them do the needful but the University management ignored us.

‘’It is unfortunate that what our colleagues in other Universities are enjoying is denied us in UNN’’, he said.
Erua directed members to immediately proceed on indefinite strike pending on when they received bank alerts of their allowances.

The Daily Times reports that members of the union overwhelmingly supported the indefinite strike called by JAC and to ensure full compliance with the strike action, JAC set up a 10-man monitoring committee for enforcement on erring members.

‘’This indefinite strike is total; all offices must be closed as well as the University medical centre. Plant house, water and electricity supplies to hostels and staff quarters are to be cut off as workers from works departments are expected to remain in their homes.

About 500 members of the union were present during the congress where the decision to embark on the strike was reached.

In a swift reation, the Vice- Chancellor of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, described the action of leaders of
JAC to call Non-academic staff of the university to strike as misleading as well as the inability of their leaders to tell members the truth.

Ozumba explained that it was not the responsibility of management to pay allowance but that of the Federal Government.

To substantiate his claim, Ozumba tendered a circular from the office of the accountant-general dated 4th July 2017 directing ministries, departments and agencies to submit detailed schedules of the shortfalls and allowances owed civil servants for the payment of eligible officers and beneficiaries.

‘’Leaders of JAC know that allowances are paid by Federal Government and no the University but are feeding their members with lies to attract cheap popularities.

‘’I am not surprised by what is happening as the politics for who will succeed me as VC in 2019 has begun.
He alleged that the leader of JAC, Mr. Erua has served for two terms and is angling for third tenure.

“Erua is desperate of becoming SSANU chairman for the third term by whatever means.

However, the VC urged workers to go about their normal duties as failure to come to work would attract the no work no pay rule.

‘’Workers should ignore the strike and continue in their duty post as the University would not hesitate to implement the no work no pay civil service rule which the circular has already been issued’’, he said.

Augustine Okezie, Emenike Sandra, Eric Ejimbe, Abuja; Esther Taiwo, Joy Ekeke, Lagos; Bolaji Omosanya, Ibadan; Edem Edem, Calabar; Alphonsus Nweze, Awka; Kingsley Chukwuka, Jos, and Moses Oyediran, Enugu

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