From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma Chapter, Dr. Monday Igbafen, yesterday, maintained that the strike earlier scheduled to begin midnight of Thursday March 25, 2021 still subsists.
Igbafen, in a statement made available to newsmen in Benin City urged the general public to disregard Congress of University Academics, (CONUA) Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma chapter that earlier distance itself from the strike.
He said the strike become necessary due to the failure of the state government to fulfill its obligations to the members of the union of the institution.
“Our great Union, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma Chapter began a strike action midnight of Thursday March 25, 2021.
” As we are verily aware, the current strike is occasioned by the failure of the University Administration and, by extension, the Edo State Government, to meaningfully address matters of habitual non-payment of salaries, check-off dues and other sundry deductions in the University.
“These financial entitlements when put together is running into billions of naira at the time of the commencement of this strike.
“For the avoidance of doubt, members have not been paid salaries for four (4) months, while check-off dues and other sundry deductions have not been paid to staff Unions, Welfare Associations and cooperative societies in the University for close to a year.
“Members are not unaware that we were forced to embark on this strike, considering our painstaking efforts, including several letters to and meetings with the University Administration and Governing Council to avoid the ongoing strike without success.
“In particular, the Union recalls with sadness the hitherto non-response to the Union’s memos seeking audience with the Governor of Edo State and Visitor to the University, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, over the salary palaver and other critical issues of governance in the University.
” Our Union imagines what members are passing through and notes with sadness the continuing debilitating human and living conditions of members as a result of the intolerable problems of non-payment of salaries and the general crisis in the University.
“The Union commends all our members and their families in their daily struggles for survival, despite the unpaid salaries conundrum”, he said.
The ASUU chairman urged the members to stick to the directive from the union and should not give in to intimidation and misinformation from any quarter especially the one being peddled by CONUA.
“Members are further reminded that the only directives valid for ASUU members during this current strike are those issued by the Union’s appropriate organs (EXCO/Strike Coordinating Committee).
“The directives of the University Administration and that of Government are not our Union’s directives, therefore any member acting on such directives is engaged in anti-union activity.
“The Union hereby advises all members against giving in to mis-information about the state of the strike such as the one being peddled under the cover of so-called Congress of University Academics (CONUA) in the media.
” The Union is aware of the attempts by two colleagues, Dr. Hanson Iyawe and Dr. Ernest Nwoke, who are using their offices as Heads of Departments to intimidate their colleagues.
” For instance, Dr. Hanson Iyawe has fixed a Board meeting for March 26, 2021, when the strike would have taken off. Members are advised to ignore him and his antics.
“The Union will protect all members against any threat and intimidation from some of these desperate colleagues who are abusing their official positions.
” Members are not unaware that the two persons identified as promoters of the so-called ‘ASUU sister group’ called CONUA, namely Dr. Hanson Iyawe and Dr. Ernest Nwoke are suspended members of ASUU AAU Ekpoma for transgressions against the Union’s rules and ethics”, he said.
Igbafen said while the strike is total, waiver has been given to the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences to conclude Part 1 MBBS examination that started on March 24, 2021 and for the Accreditation exercise to hold as scheduled.
“The Union states categorically that aside from these two persons, there is no other academic staff in A.A.U, Ekpoma who is known to belong to the so-called CONUA. Their actions can best be described as trying to blackmail the Union before government.
” As you know comrades, blackmail is a weapon of the weak and a temporary cover of truth. Truth remains truth and it shall always prevail.
“Members need to be informed that the Union has granted waiver for the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences to conclude Part 1 MBBS examination that started on March 24, 2021 and for the Accreditation exercise to hold as scheduled.
“The current strike is a just cause, given the fact that the worker deserves his or her wages. No amount of threat by agents of University Administration or State Government should be allowed to derail our struggle.
“Members are reminded that the strike is total, comprehensive and indefinite”, he said.
Reacting, chairman, CONUA, AAU chapter, Dr. Hanson Iyawe, said that Dr. Monday Igbafe, should wait patiently for the outcome of the white paper and also consider the pains of the Nigerian students who have been at home for a very long time because of the COVID19 lock down to renege on the strike.