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Varsity unions’ strike: Exams stalled in BUK, lectures disrupted in others

From Salim U. Ibrahim (Kano), Hamisu K. Matazu (Maiduguri), Yvonne Ugwuezuoha (Lagos), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Dickson S. Adama (Jos), Tijani Labaran (Lokoja), Umar Muhammed (Lafia) & Magaji l. Hunkuyi (Jalingo)

 

The ongoing warning strike embarked on by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) has continued to cause significant disruptions to academic activities in many universities across the country.

The unions on Monday commenced a seven-day strike to press home their demands, which include payment of withheld salaries and re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement. The two unions berated the federal government for paying withheld salaries to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) while neglecting the non-academic unions.

All the university unions had embarked on an eight-month strike in 2022 to press home some of their demands including a better welfare package.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari then invoked a ‘No Work, No Pay policy’ against the unions but President Bola Tinubu last October approved the release of four of the eight months withheld salaries.

However, SSANU President, Mohammed Ibrahim, accused the federal government of unfair treatment and discrimination against non-academic unions by failing to pay them like their academic counterparts.

Members of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) also joined the strike yesterday, leading to further disruptions in academic activities, such as the closure of laboratories and ICT centres.

Our reporters observed that university entrances were barricaded, and electricity supply was disconnected in many institutions nationwide.

BUK students missed exams

The striking unions yesterday shut down the main gate of Bayero University, Kano (BUK), a development that prevented students writing exams and other staff from gaining entrance into the school premises.

It was gathered that many students missed their exams as the protesting staff opened the university gates hours later.

NAAT shuts Unimaid labs, ICT centre

NAAT’s chairman at the University of Maiduguri, Comrade Yusuf Dalhatu Bulus, told newsmen yesterday that the school’s laboratories and ICT centre were shut in compliance with the resolutions of the association’s virtual conference held on March 13.

“All laboratories were shut down, there will be no teaching of practicals, no project and research works,” he said.

He said the strike would continue for three days unless the government addressed the grievances raised by the association.

Apart from payment of withheld salaries, Bulus said other demands were the upgrade of obsolete equipment and improving the dilapidated structural state of laboratories.

UNILAG gates blocked, students denied access to labs in FUT Minna

Members of the unions also staged a peaceful protest at the University of Lagos and blocked the school’s main entrance.

The development left many students and lecturers stranded and vehicular movement around the school area obstructed.

At the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, members of NAAT shut down all laboratories, workshops and studios, denying students access to practicals.

The branch chairman of NAAT, Sulayman Shuayb said that equipment in the studios, laboratories and workshops were obsolete, making it difficult for them to take students through practicals effectively.

“We, in the laboratories, studios and workshops, suffer more from the deplorable equipment in our universities. Most of the equipment are obsolete, and some of them are not working.

“We have made our demands, asking the government to equip our laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment so that students can learn properly.

“You don’t expect students to learn anything with obsolete equipment that doesn’t work again or chemicals that will not give you a better result,” he said.

The President of the Students’ Union Government (SUG), FUT Minna, Eze Christian Nnabuike, said the strike was affecting the performance of students.

The vice chancellor of the university, Professor Faruk Adamu Kuta, said the university management would do everything possible to ensure that the strike did not have much impact on academic activities.

Library locked in Unilorin, UniJos stinks

Findings by our correspondent at the University of Ilorin showed that the school’s library was closed while water and electricity were interrupted.

“The library was locked when some of us visited. The most affected are those who don’t have the means to get expensive textbooks and rely on materials from the school library,” a student said.

It was also gathered that many ongoing projects in the school had been stalled due to the strike.

Contractors handling ongoing jobs said they have not been able to proceed because those who would facilitate the payment are on strike.

Students of the University of Jos (UniJos) have lamented that since the strike commenced, the university environment has been looking unkempt and stinking as cleaners withdrew services.

A student of Economics, who simply identified herself as Abigail, said their faculty is now without water, causing toilets to stink.

A final-year student of Microbiology said their practical work has been disrupted since the strike commenced, as there were no personnel in the lab to attend to them.

A student of Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State, Kemi Adebola, said the unions’ strike has significantly affected every activity in the school, appealing to the federal government to intervene quickly.

Exams ongoing in Taraba varsities

Students and staff at the Taraba State University, Jalingo and Federal University, Wukari, said academic activities were going on smoothly despite the ongoing strike by SSANU, NASU and NAAT.

“Today our students have started their examinations and the strike action did not affect the conduct of the examinations,” a staff of Federal University, Wukari, Mr Yakubu Silas told Daily Trust.

However, a member of the NASU at the Taraba State University, Jalingo, said should the government failed to meet their demands by next week, they will shut down the school.

The North Central Zonal Coordinator and Chairman of NAAT in Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Comrade Kenneth Onuh, appealed to the general public, well-meaning Nigerians, civil society organisations and all stakeholders to prevail on the federal government to pay members of the association their withheld salaries, or hold the government responsible for any disruption of academic activities in institutions.

Strike causes student’s death in Ekiti

A  student of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), who was asthmatic, lost his life due to the ongoing industrial action by SSANU) and NASU, officials have said. The university’s Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Tajudeen Opoola, disclosed this on Tuesday while addressing journalists alongside other top principal officers.

Opoola said that the asthmatic student died because he could not immediately access medical care, as the university had been put under lock and key.

The management accused SSANU of complicity in the total shutdown of activities in the institution.

“We lost a student who had asthma this morning because he could not be taken to our clinic. The facility is under lock and key. It is true that students are on holiday, but not all of them live on campus. It would have been easier for the student to be rushed to our clinic for urgent treatment, but even our university gate was locked.

“Just this morning, I was at the Ekiti State University (EKSU), and the administrative block was open. People are going about their normal duties; you may go there to confirm. I am using EKSU as an example because it is the closest as far as this environment is concerned. In EKSU today, the clinic is functioning. Total or comprehensive strike is not going on there.

“But the same leadership of EKSU SSANU went on air yesterday to incite the public, and even led some hoodlums to invade and occupy our institution based on a false narrative that he was fed with by the chairman, SSANU, FUOYE chapter,” Mr Opoola said.

 

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