State varsities divide ASUU, set for resumption

Sam N. Egwu
Sam N. Egwu

In the midst of the prolonged industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), some state universities have started reopening their institutions for academic activities.

The management of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, announced that academic activities shall resume in all the campuses of the university today.

Consequently, the management has ordered the lecturers and students to return to classes.

In a statement the university’s Registrar, Sam N. Egwu, stated that following the inability of Federal Government and ASUU to reach an agreement over the lingering strike, the management of Ebonyi State University has resolved to begin its academic activities.

“Having waited patiently for Federal Government and ASUU to resolve the impasse behind the over four months strike embarked upon by the union to no avail, the management of EBSU has resolved to re-open classes for learning to commence on Monday, the 25th day of November 2013.

“We therefore inform all concerned that teaching and learning will begin fully on Tuesday 26th November 2013. This is to enable us cover what we have lost to the strike,” the statement said.

A source close to the institution told our correspondent that the resolution was the outcome of a meeting last week by the management, including lecturers where 80 per cent of them in attendance agreed that they should ignore the ASUU’s nationwide strike and return to class.

“None of the lecturers is still happy about the strike any longer; they gave 80 per cent support to the plan by the management to resume academic activities in the last meeting of the school management,” said the source.

Asked whether the EBSU-ASUU Chairman, Prof. Idenyi, was in the meeting, the source said,” he was among the ASUU leaders who did not attend the meeting and no reason was given regarding their absence but I learnt they got the wind of the agenda of the meeting and decided to boycott it.”

When contacted, Idenyi dissociated the EBSU chapter of ASUU from the purported reopening by the management and maintained that the  strike was still in progress until they get a directive from the national leadership.

Asked what would be their reaction if the school management decides to punish their members for refusing to resume work, Idenyi said the teachers were ready for showdown with the school management if they dare them.

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Also, academic activity was at it lowest ebb on Monday as few students and non-academic staff of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), resumed for 2nd semester of 2012/2013 academic session, following a directive by the Vice-Chancellor, Femi Mimiko.

Mimiko, who had threatened severally to pull out of the on-going ASUU’s five-month-old strike, announced the resumption date last week and directed both the academic and non-academic staff to resume duties.

Students were also enjoined to return to campus immediately.

However, when Daily Independent visited the university campus on Monday, only few students were seen walking around the large campus, while some non-academic staff were at their various duty posts doing skeletal jobs.

The few lecturers on campus were out of lecture theatres, but holding meetings at different departments.

Some of the academic staff confirmed that they had resumed for work and that they attended the faculty board meetings slated for the day.

Some of the students, who also spoke, expressed their happiness at the resumption.

Oluwasegun Ogunleke, an undergraduate, said: “I am very happy.  It has not been easy going on about the five months strike. One of my expectations was to complete my schooling here in October this year. But so many plans have been disrupted. This is unusual. Now that we have resumed, I am very happy. Thanks to our VC. He has been like a daddy and everything to us.”

Another student, Opeyemi Owoola, said: “When I received the information on my phone that we were to resume today, I thought it was a joke. Now that I can see that the faculty meeting is holding, I am sure that the lectures will begin next Monday.

“I am very happy because I should write my final exams by March next year. ASUU has wasted four months of our time.

Oladimeji Ogunwale said: “It is good thing that we have resumed. As a final year student I am very happy despite that ASUU has really wasted our time.”

However, chairman of AAUA ASUU, Busuyi Mekusi, was not available for reaction, as he was said to be holding congress of the local ASUU to determine next line of action on the resumption directive of the vice-chancellor.

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Mekusi had earlier reportedly informed members of ASUU to shun the directive of the VC to resume academic work, stressing that the local chapter of the academic union would not pull out of the strike called by the national body.

Meanwhile, the much anticipated meeting between the executive members of ASUU and President Goodluck Jonathan over the lingering industrial action was delayed on Monday due to some protocol issues.

Although the President is back in the country from his trip to London, ASUU officials that were supposed to meet with him are already in Abuja and awaiting further directive from the State House inviting them for the meeting.

A source at the State House, however, attributed the delay to protocol issues, stating that the proposed meeting was not included in the Presidents official itinerary for Monday.

ASUU which concluded its NEC meeting in Kano at the weekend was expected to present some of their resolutions to the President before the strike which has lasted for almost five months would be suspended.

At press time last night, it was gathered that the union may have presented some conditions unofficially to the Federal Government as prerequisite for calling off the strike.

This, a source said, may not have gone down well with the Presidency.

The union was alleged to have demanded the payment of their four months salary arrears, including the implementation of the N1.1 trillion pledged by the Federal Government for infrastructural development in public universities.

The South West zone of the union also on Monday had a meeting at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on the outcome of the NEC meeting held at the weekend.

Though the outcome of on Monday meeting held behind closed doors was not made known to the public, a source close to the institution said the zone reviewed the last NEC meeting and resolved to wait for the outcome of the meeting with the President.

The meeting was attended by ASUU leaders from the zone, including UNILAG, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAB), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Lagos State University (LASU) and Tai Solarin University of Education (TASCE).

 

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