Academic activities resumed Wednesday at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto State, and Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Anambra State, following the suspension of the over five-month old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
But the sigh of relief that greeted the suspension of the strike was, however, short-lived at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) Wednesday, as academic and business activities were grounded at the institution, following the protest by three trade unions over the suspension of the Pro-Chancellor and chairman of the school’s governing board, Dr. Emeka Enejere, by the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike.
However, the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto State branch of ASUU, while directing its members of staff and students to resume academic activities immediately, said the over five-month strike had nothing to do with politics but a just cause to rescue the university system from collapse.
Addressing journalists in Sokoto, its Chairman, Dr. Faruk Tambuwal, said the branch suspended the strike, following resolutions reached with the federal government on contentious issues as contained in the 2009 agreement and 2012 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The chairman, who called on parents to prepare their children back to school for their various programmes, said: “Henceforth, all academic and allied activities resumed with effective from today. Parents and guardians are to take note and prepare their children back to school. I equally seize this opportunity to thank parents, guardians and students for identifying with us and understanding our cause throughout the period of the industrial action.”
He asserted that for the fact that ASUU had resumed academic activities, there was an indication that there was nothing political about the strike.
“We learnt that the federal government is already computing the backlog of salaries starting from September and hope to be paid soon. So, you can imagine lecturers staying for four months without salary and that is sacrifice because we are convinced that we are fighting a good cause,” Tambuwal averred.
In the same vein, lecturers were said to have resumed classes at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, yesterday in compliance with the directive by the national body of the union.
The Chairman of ASUU of the university, Prof. Ike Odimegwu, who announced the resumption of academic activities in the school said the strike which, he described, as a last resort was a painful experience for the union and students alike.
He explained that it was not the intention of ASUU to ground academic services in the universities in the first place, stressing that lecturers had promised the students who kept faith with them during the period of the strike that part of its achievements would be a renewed vigour in their resolve and understanding to promote quality education.
Odimegwu said the union saluted the courage of the federal government to withdraw its sack order on the striking lecturers in the realisation that it was counter-productive, adding that government has signed an MoU that no lecturer would be victimised for participating in the strike.
Meanwhile, the disruption of academic activities at UNN following the suspension of Enejere was said to have been spearheaded by ASUU, the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), which demanded the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Enejere without which they would ground activities at the institution till further notice.
The trade unions, whose leaders led their members numbering about 1,000 in the protest rally with placards reading ‘Pro-chancellor must come back,’ ‘Enejere must come back,’ ‘Bartho must go,’ among others, demanded the sack of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bartho Okolo, who they accused of non-performance.
Briefing journalists at the end of their protest march, the three leaders of the unions, Messrs Ifeanyi Abada, Godfrey Ugwu and Onwu Anthony representing ASUU, NASU and NAAT respectively, decried the leadership style of the university under Okolo, and called for his immediate removal.
“We have to reiterate that the University of Nigeria under the leadership of Prof Okolo is in ruins. The history of the university today is the history of maladministration, financial impropriety and recklessness, contract splitting and money laundering,” the leaders stated.
The unions also noted with dismay the rationale behind the suspension of Enejere by the minister, who until now has been discharging his functions as council chairman effectively and challenged the minister to explain the justification for suspending Enejere without reason
It also demanded from the minister why he was shielding and encouraging corrupt vice chancellor which according to them is against the basic principles of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda
“We challenge the supervising minister of education and his partner and adviser in chief and collaborator Prof Okojie to explain the following; “Why he hastily suspended a council chairman without any form of query”, “Justification for suspending Enejere without reason”.
“Why he is encouraging corruption in the Universities”, “Why he is shielding and encouraging corrupt vice chancellors and tainted officers in his ministry”, “Why he refused to react to the compendium of corrupt activities of the vice chancellor, UNN, which were articulated by the unions”, they further added.
The unions, however, demanded the immediate reinstatement of Enejere or every activities on campus will be paralysed.
“In view of the foregoing the union’s demands the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of Dr. Emeka Enejere as the chairman UNN Governing Council or active non compliance will continue.”
We have had enough of this impunity, we request Mr. President to intervene and call the minister to order,” they said.
Media checks showed that the protesters blocked all entry points to the university, while workers of the university shut down offices and joined the protest.