From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
All is currently not well between the management of Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado-Ekiti and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). This sour followed the school’s directive that new students should report academic activities on Monday, August 29, 2022. This is even as the strike embarked upon by the national ASUU is on going.
The institution’s Registrar, Ife Oluwole, said the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eddy Olanipekun, met other stakeholders over the socio- economic effects of ASUU strike on parents, students, alumni and staff. They noted: “The strike is having negative effects not only on the students but also on the university.
“These include undue prolongation of the academic calendar and the stay of the students on campus; low patronage by candidates seeking admission to the university; inability of staff to meet up with their financial obligations; and inability to pay staff salaries.”
Participants then resolved: “It has become imperative for all members of staff currently on strike in the university to resume normal official activities. All newly-admitted students for 2O21/2022 academic session should also resume (sic) on Monday, August 29, 2022, for screening, registration and orientation programme.”
But ASUU EKSU insisted that the strike continues. Its chairman, Dr. Kayode Arogundade, said: “ Let me tell you what happened. We withdrew the services of our members. They (the university) were the ones who asked students to go home. It is the students they are asking to come back. They are not asking our members to come back.
“It is the person that declares strike that can always call off the strike not the other party. They have the capacity to ask their students to return but they don’t have capacity to ask our members to return.
“Is it possible for us to go to war for six months and come back empty handed? It is not done anywhere. What would have been the basis of the strike? Government is not sincere that is the problem. The moment we discover they are sincere we will know what to do.
“The school will naturally want to ask their students to resume most especially since the non-academic staff are around. May be, they want their students to start registering and doing orientation preparing for resumption. And they specified in the last paragraph of their release what they want students to come and start doing.”
EKSU’s Head, Directorate of Information and Corporate Affairs, Mr Bode Olofinmuagun, said: “Let’s wait till Monday because the other one is management’s decision. The management is desirous of opening the school for academic activities. But since ASUU said they are not ready let us wait till Monday and see what will happen. The management will assess the situation and take appropriate decision on the matter.”
A lecturer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “My position is with ASUU. I am a member of ASUU. It is the right of the management to say school should resume. It is also a fact that national ASUU is on strike and local ASUU is a member of national ASUU and nothing is being offered even at the local level.
“Of course, we have peculiar problems. Previously they were paying us half salary. And over four months now we have not received salary.
“If you are asking workers to come back, you must also be making something available for them to come back with. After all, they won’t trek from their homes to campuses. They will also need something to keep their bodies and souls together. They need to take care of their families.
“Even if you do all that, it has not solved the problem of why ASUU has gone on strike. ASUU went on strike with some demands, which affect all public universities; from the issue of revitalisation fund, salary, agreement of 2009 being left to linger up till now. All these have not been resolved.
“Any university management either EKSU or anywhere, asking or wanting to force lecturers to come back to campus is not talking in the interest of ASUU and even the university itself. Many of the things
achieved by even state universities are consequent upon the struggles
“Any university management especially at the state level, calling lecturers back to work is undermining ASUU. It is making it impossible for ASUU to actualise its demands from the Federal Government and each demand is legitimate.
“The revitalisation of the university is not going to benefit ASUU members per se. It will improve our universities and make them to compete with other universities across the world. That is the position of ASUU.
“If you look at many state universities, they have been able to reach the standards they reached because of the struggles of ASUU. Go to many universities, you are going to find Education Trust Fund (ETF) buildings. The buildings are not the projects of state governments.
“They are consequent upon the struggles of ASUU over the years. By asking that companies that operate in Nigeria and make use of Nigerian graduates to pay infinitesimal parentage of their profits and pooled together as ETF.
“If not for this trust fund, many of these universities would have become less than primary schools but for the struggle of ASUU. That is why ETF was able to build structures, infrastructure in the universities, in spite of that, the infrastructure are still not enough.
“You will not find any of Nigerian universities making the first 1,000 position all over the world. It is because of the decadence of infrastructure.
“The university is supposed to be a universal heritage, there is universality in university. Nigerian universities are no longer universal. Because of poor salary we cannot attract foreigners to come to Nigerian universities.
“One of the criteria of rating universities is the internationality of workers in the universities, especially the academic staff. How international is the academic staff in our universities? You can’t even attract international students.
“Many universities in Nigeria have problems of electricity and water.
They have no chemicals to do experiments. Perhaps, Nigeria has the poorest paid lecturers in Africa, all over the world. How can you then attract international scholars? We go there to do sabbatical, but how many can come to Nigeria?
“Many state governments are paying lip services to their universities.
They don’t want to fund their universities. Parents don’t want to pay school fees. Who will then pay? “Universities need subventions from governments. When they publish a particular percentage of the budget as subvention and they don’t fulfil it, how can our universities function? It is either we have a university or we don’t have. There is no point in grandstanding.
“This national strike is to rescue our universities from sinking, from imminent collapse. Anybody whether within or without, who is trying to undermine this struggle for the purpose of any end, that person does not have the interest of the people of Nigeria at heart, does not have the interest of education at heart because it can’t continue this way.”
Another EKSU lecturer who also didn’t want his name in print, said:
“The Vice Chancellor is also a core ASUU person. His position is that of a political one and he has to dance to the tune of government.
“He had been the zonal chairman, he had served at the national executive level of ASUU. If he were to be part of ASUU for now, if he were to be in the executive he will still take the same stand that we should not resume. If we resume, two things will happen.
First, the national ASUU will abandon us, it wouldn’t matter to them whatever happens to us. And on the part of government, it will give government the opportunity to continue to oppress us. They will dictate just anything to us and we will not be able to complain. I think it is not going to be wise after this length of time not to achieve anything and to call off the strike.
“We want to achieve something. We want to see improvement in the funding. Let the government tell us how much it has spent on the university in the last couple of years. “Government is not bothered in spite of being the proprietor. For the past four months now we have not earned any salary. The last time we earned was in April, in spite of the fact that they are owe us some two months outstanding.
“So, if we call off the strike now it will give government the opportunity to oppress us. I think it is in the best interest of ASUU not to call off the strike until government grants our requests.”
Olofinmuagun, however, told Daily Sun: “The newly-admitted students were on campus today (Monday 29, 2022) to do their registration and screening.”
At EKSU, some new students started registration and screening, moving
from one office to another.
Olayanju Oluwadunni, Department of Sociology, said: “I am very happy because I have wasted a lot of time at home. I felt so excited when I heard that we should come back to school. But, I am not happy that ASUU has not called off the strike. After we are through with the registration and screening there won’t be lecturers to teach us.
“I appeal to the Federal Government to consider the demands of ASUU.
We are really suffering at home. Some students have been killed, some girls have gone into prostitution and some are pregnant.”
A fresh student, Department of Computer Engineering, Tunji Ojo Victor, said: “I feel happy that school has reopened. I never expected it because we have been awaiting it for some months and calling us back for registration, I was very happy.
“As for the extension of the strike, I am not happy because I don’t want to go back home after doing my registration. I am using this medium to beg ASUU and the Federal Government to come together and consider we the students because we are the ones being affected.”
Ayomide Ajayi, Department of Anatomy: “I am happy being in school, but I am also sad that the strike is still on. I felt sad when I heard that the strike has been extended indefinitely.
“I am begging the federal government to please respond to the demands of ASUU so that the strike can end and we can go back to school. What students are doing on the streets is very bad.”
Damilare Omotoso, Business Administration student: “ I feel good being on campus. Actually, I just came to check out the mode of payment and how to go about it. I will come back with my files and other things to proceed.
“The sad thing is that as the strike lingers. We don’t know whether we are going to resume lectures or not after our registration and screening.”