From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The new Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan (UI), Prof Kayode Adebowale, officially resumed office Monday, promising to run an ‘administration that is God-fearing.’
He was welcomed into office with a protest by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) over 75:25 per cent sharing formula of the just-approved N22.127 billion for payment of earned allowances for university staff by the Federal Government.
According to the Federal Government, the ASUU is to take a lion share of 75 per cent of the total sum, while the other three unions, SSANU, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) will share the remaining 25 per cent among themselves.
The resumption of the new Vice Chancellor was earlier kicked off with a church service held at the Chapel of Resurrection, UI, which was presided over by Very Rev’d Kayode Oyelade, the chaplain of the chapel.
The protesters staged the protest after a congress held at the Theatre Arts Department of the institution and passed through the base of the Vice Chancellor’s office to the front of Trenchard Hall, Mellanby Hall, Tedder Hall, and Students’ Union Building (SUB) before they converged in front of SSANU secretariat and dispersed.
The protesters said the protest was not targeted at the new Vice Chancellor, but Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Labour and Productivity Dr Chris Ngige, the Executive Secretary, National University Commission (NUC), Prof Abubakar Rasheed, on their purported stance on the 75:25 per cent sharing formula of the N22.127 billion for payment of earned allowances in favour of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The JAC of SSANU and NASU, however, told the new Vice Chancellor that the share of the University of Ibadan from the N22.127 billion should not be shared, until the Federal Government reviewed the sharing your formula, threatening that any attempt to share the money would throw the institution to another round of industrial actions by the non-teaching staff.
In his address at the chapel, Adebowale stated: ‘By the special grace of God, we will run an administration that is God-fearing, and administration that seeks and pursues the welfare of everyone, not minding their ethnicity, faith and creed. Only an administration that is fair, even and just in leading people, can bring glory to God’s name.’
The peaceful protest, which took off from the Department of Theatre Arts and ended at the main gate of the premier university, was preceded by a joint congress of the unions, following a two-week ultimatum that the JAC of national bodies of the SSANU, NASU AND NAAT gave the Federal Government to reverse the sharing formula.
Speakers during the congress and the protest include Chairman of SSANU, Abiodun Omisore; Chairman of NASU, Malachy Etim; former SSANU chairman, Wale Akinremi; and former National Vice Chairman of SSANU, Alfred Jimoh.
The NASU Chairman, Etim, said: ‘We want to educate our members on the strike that is coming up because we are going to take our destiny into our hands. At the same time, we want the public to warn the Minister of Education. We know he is an academician. The Executive Secretary of NUC is an academician. If they think they can use the non-teaching staff money to pay academicians, which they will benefit from, we will not accept that. We are sending a signal to them that very soon, we will close down all the universities, except they retrace their steps. The government is pushing us to go on strike.”
The SSANU Chairman, Omisore, also stated: ‘We are staging a protest against the insensitivity of the Federal Government on the sharing formula for the N22.127 billion earned allowances. In 2011 when we had the first tranche of these allowances, ASUU was not supposed to be part of the payment. But in our magnanimity as non-teaching staff, across universities, we accommodated them. Now, they went behind to pressurise officials of the Federal Government to pay them earned allowances.’
Former SSANU chairman in the university, Akinremi, appealed to the public to ‘help us talk to the government that they should desist from all efforts to frustrate the academic calendars of the federal and state universities in this country. The public should prevail on the government to ensure justice. The non-teaching staff are sending warning signals now. In the next few days, we are going to descend on the system.’