Academic activities in the nation’s universities were yesterday paralysed as lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) began one-week nationwide warning strike.
ASUU’s National President, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, had at a news conference in Abuja on Monday ordered lecturers to boycott classes to protest the failure of the Federal Government to meet the union’s various demands.
At the University of Lagos, lecturers complied with the directive. Students were found milling around and idling away, as lecturers stayed away from classes. UNILAG ASUU Chairman, Dr. Adelaja Odutola, told New Telegraph that the union had suspended all academic activities at the university. “All academic activities have been suspended in compliance with the directive of ASUU and, currently, the union is on strike.
This is just a warning strike, but if there is no response from the federal government to meet our needs, then we will work on how the next plan of action will be,” he said.
The one-week warning strike has crippled academic activities at the University of Uyo (Uni- Uyo), Akwa Ibom. Lecturers have deserted lecture rooms at the Uyo campus, its annex and the main campus of the university yesterday.
Only students were seen in clusters discussing about the disruption of the academic activities due to the strike. Speaking to newsmen, the Branch Chairman of ASUU, UniUyo, Dr. Aniekan Brown, said members of the branch had expressed their disappointment at the federal government’s attitude of paying them fractional salaries.
“The strike is total and comprehensive, no teaching, no examination and no attendance at statutory meetings of any kind (Senate, Council, College/ Faculty/Departmental Boards). “Members are advised to obtain information in connection with the strike only from the chairman,” Brown said.
He explained that the warning strike was to cause the federal government to address shortfall in salaries leading to payment of fractions of staff salaries.
Besides, he said that the union, during the warning strike, would expect government to re-negoti-ate the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement in line with the November 2013 FGNASUU’s Memorandum of Understanding. In Anambra State, the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu University was, yesterday, deserted by students and members of staff.
As at yesterday, the ongoing postgraduate screening examination of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka billed to last for one week was abruptly stopped.
Briefing journalists at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam campus, ASUU Chairman in the institution, Comrade Emeka Nwabunnia, said that all academic and administrative activities would be shut down until further notice. Nwabunnia said: “Since the inception of the Treasury Single Account, salaries of staff are remitted straight from Abuja.
Check-off is removed from there. So what the federal universities do is to work out these things and move it to Abuja and the Ministry of Finance would remit it from there.
“From December last year, they have been paid what we call amputated salaries. You’re paid your salary and it’s not complete. ASUU is demanding that the universities be exempted from the TSA.
Let the universities work out their staff salaries.” In Benue State, lecturers at the Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi and the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM) shut down the two institutions in compliance with the directive.
New Telegraph’s correspondent who visited the institutions saw leaders of the union at the entrance gate of their campuses enforcing compliance. Chairman of ASUU FUAM chapter, Dr. Bemgba Anjembe told New Telegraph that:
“The dangerous trend is that funding of public universities is gradually becoming a problem as salaries now come in percentages. We are now taking fractional salaries. In FUAM, for instance, what we are paid is 85 per cent of our salary.
The union is tired of what it described as ‘government’s empty promises’ in setting up its negotiation team for the review of the 2009 agreement as consistently requested by ASUU since 2012.
“If nothing is done by the end of the warning strike, we will go back to NEC and review and I assure you that there would be another phase which would be more than one week.
That is why we are appealing to public spirited individuals who have access to this government to advise them so as to avert a prolonged crisis in the public universities.”
Lecturers of the Lagos State University (LASU) also complied with the oneweek nationwide warning strike declared by ASUU. Dr. Isaac Oyewunmi, Chairman, ASUU, LASU Chapter, said that academic activities in the university had been paralysed. Oyewunmi said that LASU lecturers’ compliance to the strike directive was total.
He said that the chapter held a congress on Tuesday to discuss the strike, and that a notice was sent to its members and the university management on the commencement of the strike.
“There is no report of any infraction within the chapter; all members have complied as directed by the national body,” the chairman said. Miss Stella Nwachukwu, a student of the university’s Department of Microbiology, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the strike was unfortunate, saying that it would affect students.
In Bauchi, lecturers at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) joined other universities’ unions to embark on the strike to press for their demands.
Mr. Adamu Babayo, ASUU’s Chairman, ATBU’s chapter, told newsmen in Bauchi that part of the union’s grievances include: the non-revitalization of nation’s universities’ autonomy and shortfall in staff salaries.
Also, the issues of staff primary schools and the non-implementation of the agreement it reached with the government in 2009 among their grievances.
Others according to him are: lack of registration of Universities Pension Company (NUPECO) and the non-payment of Earned Academic Allowances. He said the Federal Budget Office had, in January, slashed the salaries of its members by six per cent.
The chairman said the union paid N1 billion for registration of its new pension scheme as demanded by the government but was refused registration.
The University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU has suspended ongoing examinations at the Faculty of Education till after the strike. Omole said that letters of the strike have been sent to the Vice-Chancellor, Deans, Head of Departments and Director of Institutes to stop all academic meetings, lectures, examinations and all board meetings.
In Kebbi State, academic activities were paralysed at the Kebbi State University of Science and Technology.