The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Dr. Monday Igbafen has maintained that the strike earlier scheduled to begin midnight of Thursday, March 25, 2021, subsists.
Igbafen, in a statement made available to Our Source in Benin City, urged the general public to disregard the Congress of University Academics, (CONUA) Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma chapter which earlier distanced itself from the strike.
He said the strike became necessary due to the failure of the state government to fulfil its obligations to members of the union in the institution.
“Our great union, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma Chapter began a strike action midnight of Thursday, March 25, 2021.
“As we are aware, the current strike is occasioned by the failure of the University Administration and by extension, the Edo State Government, to meaningfully address matters of habitual non-payment of salaries, check-off dues and other sundry deductions in the University.
“These financial entitlements when put together is running into billions of naira at the time of the commencement of this strike.
“For the avoidance of doubt, members have not been paid salaries for four (4) months, while check-off dues and other sundry deductions have not been paid to staff unions, welfare associations and cooperative societies in the University for close to a year.
“Members are not unaware that we were forced to embark on this strike, considering our painstaking efforts, including several letters to and meetings with the University Administration and Governing Council to avoid the ongoing strike without success.
“In particular, the union recalls with sadness the hitherto non-response to memos seeking audience with the Governor of Edo State and Visitor to the University, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, over the salary palaver and other critical issues of governance in the University.
“The Union commends all our members and their families in their daily struggles for survival, despite the unpaid salaries conundrum”, he said.
The ASUU chairman urged the members to stick to the directive from the union and should not give in to intimidation and misinformation from any quarter especially the one being peddled by CONUA.
“Members are further reminded that the only directives valid for ASUU members during this current strike are those issued by the union’s appropriate organs (EXCO/Strike Coordinating Committee).
“The directives of the University Administration and that of Government are not our union’s directives, therefore any member acting on such directives is engaged in an anti-union activity.
“The Union hereby advises all members against giving in to misinformation about the state of the strike such as the one being peddled under the cover of so-called Congress of University Academics (CONUA) in the media.
“The Union is aware of the attempts by two colleagues, Dr. Hanson Iyawe and Dr. Ernest Nwoke, who are using their offices as Heads of Departments to intimidate their colleagues.
“For instance, Dr. Hanson Iyawe has fixed a Board meeting for March 26, 2021, when the strike would have taken off. Members are advised to ignore him and his antics.
“The Union will protect all members against any threat and intimidation from some of these desperate colleagues who are abusing their official positions.
“Members are not unaware that the two persons identified as promoters of the so-called ‘ASUU sister group’ called CONUA, namely, Dr. Hanson Iyawe and Dr. Ernest Nwoke are suspended members of ASUU AAU Ekpoma for transgressions against the Union’s rules and ethics”, he said.
Igbafen said while the strike is total, a waiver has been given to the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences to conclude the Part 1 MBBS examination that started on March 24, 2021, and for the accreditation exercise to hold as scheduled.
“The union states categorically that aside from these two persons, there is no other academic staff in A.A.U, Ekpoma who is known to belong to the so-called CONUA. Their actions can best be described as trying to blackmail the Union before the government.
“As you know comrades, blackmail is a weapon of the weak and a temporary cover of truth. The truth remains truth and it shall always prevail.
“Members need to be informed that the Union has granted a waiver for the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences to conclude Part 1 MBBS examination that started on March 24, 2021, and for the accreditation exercise to hold as scheduled.
“The current strike is a just cause, given the fact that the worker deserves his or her wages. No amount of threat by agents of the University Administration or State Government should be allowed to derail our struggle.
“Members are reminded that the strike is total, comprehensive and indefinite”, he said.
Reacting, chairman, CONUA, AAU chapter, Dr. Hanson Iyawe, said Igbafen, should wait patiently for the outcome of the white paper and also consider the pains of the Nigerian students who have been at home for a very long time because of the COVID19 lockdown to renege on the strike.