The Kogi State University (KSU) has sacked 150 striking lecturers for their refusal to return to work. The action drew the ire of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which described it as callous. Mohammed Yabagi reports.
The battle line has been drawn between the Kogi State government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), following the sack of 150 lecturers in one fell swoop.
Their dismissal followed the proscription of the KSU chapter of ASUU by the Governor Yahaya Bello after the institution resumed from a seven-month strike. The lecturers were fired for refusing to return to work. The lecturers are sympathetic to the ASUU leadership, which insisted that the government must pay all arrears owed workers before the school is re-opened.
CampusLife gathered that the lecturers, who received their letters of dismissal on August 14, refused to sign the attendance registers opened in all faculties. It was gathered that 48 lecturers were affected at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, where the ASUU Chairman, Dr Daniel Aina, teaches.
A source, who asked not to be named, said affected lecturers would not get last month’s salary. The source said: “Their names have been removed from the July salary schedule that will soon be sent to Lokoja for payment.”
Two weeks after the re-opening of the university, the national leadership of ASUU declared an indefinite action. But KSU lecturers said they would not join the strike, because of the proscription of their chapter.
The local ASUU said the proscription was illegal, describing it as an infringement on members’ right to associate. The union also dismissed as a joke, the management’s decision to sack its members. The union, Dr Aina said, would fight the replacement of Heads of Departments.
But, students are backing the school in its face-off with their teachers. They criticised the local ASUU chapter for “attempting to bring the school to another round of strike” while it is yet to recover from the effects of the previous action.
The students hailed the government for proscribing ASUU on the campus.
A final year Economics student, Nathaniel Ekele, said: “It may not have gone down well with many people, but I support the government’s decision. It is the best decision to save the school from collapse. With what is happening within the national leadership of ASUU, it shows the government took a wise decision. After about seven months of internal strike, we cannot afford to join the ongoing strike.”
Solomon Ajayi, a 200-Level Chemistry student, said the mass sack of lecturers might backfire on the institution and cause another crisis. While he did not support the KSU for joining the strike, he urged the local ASUU to consider the plight of students.
“Since I gained admission into the institution, we have not had a stable academic calendar. We have been bearing the brunt of the disagreement between the institution and its workers. KSU needs to do away with any strike. This is why I support the ban on ASUU. But, I am afraid about the mass sack of lecturers by the management. This may create another problem for the institution. We expect all parties to meet and solve the matter amicably because students will resist any attempt to close the school again,” he said.
Describing ASUU’s demands as “selfish”, the students warned the lecturers not to mortgage their future
An employee, Andrew Ojonugwa, said the proscription of ASUU was unpopular on campus. But, the action, he said, was in the interest of the students and academic stability.
He said most KSU workers did not support the ASUU leadership.
Ojonugwa said: “Those of us who saw reasons with the government and supported its decision on the proscription of ASUU have been labelled with all sorts of unprintable names. How would the students feel today if the current industrial action by the national ASUU again disrupts academic activities in KSU?”
A top management officer told CAMPUSLIFE that members of the local ASUU forced the school to implement the proscription order. He described ASUU as “highly confrontational and insensitive”.
The source said the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Muhammed Sani Abdulkadir, reached out to ASUU for amicable resolution of the matter. He claimed that the ASUU leadership rebuffed the peace move.
He said: “The VC, at a point, found it pointless to continue making efforts to engage the local ASUU leadership. Despite all entreaties to them, they could not see why they should suspend their strike. It was natural to have believed, therefore, that there was more to it than met the eyes. The ASUU was highly insensitive and confrontational in its approach. We had to proscribe the union and dismiss some of them that did not resume for work.”
But, ASUU said it would not be intimidated by the action. The union said the condition for peace is for the school to reverse the “callous decisions” taken against its members.