Lecturers disagree on school resumption

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University of Ibadan gate
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The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has disagreed with the leadership of Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU) over the resumption of schools.

CONUA which is a parallel body of the ASUU that consists of lecturers from five universities following cracks within ASUU.

Members of the new union were Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife; Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma; Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE); Federal University, Lokoja (FUL) and Kwara State University (KWASU), Molete said they were ready to resume work.

This was revealed by the National Coordinator of CONUA on Saturday in a statement he issued after its National Executive Council meeting.

The new Union was first announced at the end of its stakeholders’ forum at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in October 2019.

”CONUA members are ready to resume work.

”Everything necessary in terms of COVID-19 protocols must be put in place before reopening the universities in order to prevent students and staff from contracting the disease.

”The education sector cannot continue to stagnate. As it appears, COVID-19 would continue to be a threat and we must, in the circumstance, learn to strive to lead our normal life

”The Union urges the government to make available everything that can help our universities to resume work as it is being done elsewhere in the world,” he said.

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Sunmonu said CONUA condemned the intimidation and harassment of some of its members by some university administrations and other unions within the university system.

He said that freedom of association as entrenched in the Nigerian constitution, a provision which allowed every academic the freedom to join any union of his or her choice.

”No amount of molestation or vilification can take the union away from the path of progressive unionism.

”Adequate measures, as far as the law and constitution of Nigeria permits, will be taken against anyone who is using intimidation or employing any other odious means to threaten our members,” he said.

Sunmonu lauded university administrations which held meetings to promote academic staff members during the COVID-19 lockdown.

‘The union received information that some universities held Senate meetings and Congregation elections, but refused to convene any meeting to carry out promotion of its members, simply because some people threatened that such promotions, if ever announced, will be reversed.

”CONUA leadership feels outraged by such pronouncements and expresses its resolve to support any effort by university administrations to facilitate the due promotion of academic staff members.’’

Meanwhile, it had earlier been reported that ASUU has maintained it will not suspend the ongoing strike action.

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ASUU had been on strike since March over issues of staff welfarism and upgrade of university facilities.

National President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi said this during a stakeholder’s meeting at the Union’s Secretariat at the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Professor Ogunyemi said the federal government has continually failed to fulfill its Memorandum of Action agreed in 2019, insisting that the federal government may trigger another round of crisis should it force ASUU members into the IPPIS Scheme.

He noted that unlike other sectors, nothing has been put in place by the federal government in accordance with the COVID-19 health protocols for reopening of schools adding that, “Students’ hostels, lecture rooms and laboratories do not meet standards of schools in other countries”, which he said is part of the reasons for the strike.

“The narratives coming from government quarters does not edify what the University stands for. What they have said about us does not represent what we are doing but because they have polluted us with those undeserving of the job.

“As we speak, IPPIS is recruiting people without subjecting them to due process of employment. They are polluting and diluting the configuration of Academia.

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“We will revisit the whole thing after this strike. Any department or Faculty where you think due process was not followed in recruiting staff, reject them. We will stand by you.

“The Nigerian Project cannot be made possible unless our Universities rise to the occasion. Our stakeholders have a duty to listen to all parties.

“The ASUU strike of 2013 that lasted 6months, we wrote about 59 letters and had 20 meetings but in this ongoing strike we’ve written about four letters and we’ve had few meetings. We’ve met with the Senate President and the Speaker and several Ministers but the only language they understand is strike action,” he said.

The ASUU Chairman also accused Vice-Chancellors of diverting funds meant for the revitalization of universities.

He further advised the academic staff to avoid making themselves vulnerable to people he called economic vampires, threatening that plans are on the way to deal with all Vice-Chancellors involved in fraud.

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