NASU/NAAT/SSANU: Strike Grounds Nigeria’s Public Universities

Administrative activities in public universities across the country were paralysed, yesterday, as non-teaching staff began the nationwide five-day warning strike.

The workers, operating under the aegis of Joint Action committee (JAC), are asking the Federal Government to release N30 billion for the payment of earned allowances for members in public universities.

The striking workers are also demanding the re-negotiating of 2009 agreement with Federal Government and integrating of University primary school teachers into government payroll.

National President of SSANU, Mr. Samson Ugwoke, had said members of the unions had been fully mobilised to ensure total compliance to the five-day warning strike.

“We are fully ready for the strike, and there is no going back on that. The strike is going to be total from Monday, August 19 to Friday, August 23.

“We had given the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum to meet our demands, but it elapsed with nothing coming forth from the side of government,’’ the unionist warned.

At the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, the local chapter of SSANU and NASU participated in the action.

The OAU SSANU chairman, Ademola Oketunde, said the union bodies had no option than to comply with the directive of the Joint Action Congress (JAC) Chairman, Mr. Samson Ugwoke, to participate in the industrial action.

One of the state staff who spoke to Daily Sun on condition of anonymity said they were directed by the leadership of the union to go back home in compliance with the directives of the National Body.

In Ibadan, Mr. Wale Akinremi, SSANU chairman said there was 95 per cent compliance on the strike while Mr. Malachy Etim, NASU chairman UI, said members of the union were eager to comply.

“If there is any lecture going on, it is the work of the lecturers as teaching is not our responsibility. We have locked some classrooms but some lecturers have the key, so they can open them.

“But offices are under lock. We are telling the Federal Government that failure to call us to a roundtable, we will declare an indefinite strike and close down all the universities,” he said.

The action also paralysed business activities at the two campuses of the University of Benin. By 8am yesterday, the monitoring team set up by NASU was on ground to ensure offices were not opened and those already opened shut.

At the entrance gate of the Ugbowo main campus of the university, only one of the gates was open for vehicles entering and coming out, resulting in a gridlock that stretched into the Benin- Lagos road.

At the Ekenwan Campus ,only security men at the gate were at their duty posts as many of the other staff were seen relaxing at the school’s staff club.

Chairman of NASU, Anthony Igbinosa expressed satisfaction with the way his members were united, describing the strike as ‘fight for a common course’.

Though the strike did not prevent students from attending classes, they, however, complained of lack of water in their hostels as NASU members were not on duty to pump water for them nor put on the school generator when public light went off.

The situation was not different at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).

The branch chairman of SSANU and JAC, Franklin Matthews, said the strike is expected to be total and comprehensive involving the school bursary, drivers, cleaners as well as security operatives of the school who are members of the union.

Also, the NASU branch chairman, Samuel Iwuala disclosed that a task force has been set up to adequately ensure a strict compliance.

However, there was little sign of the strike in the Main Campus of Ahmadu Bello University, Samaru, Zaria, Kaduna State, as most of the non-teaching staff were seen moving around their offices while movement at Senate building building was unrestricted. At the Institute of Administration, Congo Campus, staff reported in their offices and carried-out official duty.

But the branch chairman of SSANU, Mr. Iliyasu. A. Bello, said: “We’ll start tomorrow (today), we are using today (yesterday) to mobilise our members who were returning from Sallah break.”