Friday, 15 April 2016

We will call of the strike if… -NSUK ASUU

Nas govt built just 5 projects in NSUK, 41 by TETFund, others

By Ofim, Kelechi Ofim

The strike action embarked upon by the Nasarawa State University chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, no doubt has grounded not just academic activity but has affected the once booming economic and social life of the university town of Keffi, and everyone is wishing that the lingering strike will be suspended soon so that normal activities will return.

Now, the protagonist in the entire drama, ASUU, has given grounds within which it will soft pedal and call off the strike, just as it has alleged that government has executed only 5 projects out of 46 that dot the university landscape since it was established in 2001, warning that if the trend is allowed to persist the fledgling university will suffer hugely in the nearest future.

This news is coming on the heels of an offer made by the Governing Council which ASUU rejected, saying it lacked in substance and entirely “vague”.

Before embarking on the strike, ASUU through its branch chairman, Dr. Theophilous Lagi, had warned that “going on strike is one thing, suspending it is another thing” reminding management and stakeholders of the rigors that are involved in the process of resolving the strike once started.

He implored stakeholders to intervene as the Union had exhausted all avenues to make management and government settle their grievances peacefully but without success.

ASUU further extended the lifeline by three weeks but that went by without anyone noticing and by 7th of March, 2016 when the ultimatum expired, last minute effort and desperation to avert the “looming danger” failed to assuage the minds of the now furious and determined lecturers who gathered at the Assembly Hall of the University where they affirmed their decision to proceed on “comprehensive, total and indefinite strike”, thus bringing academic activity in the institution to a screeching halt.

On that day, their booming voices reverberated from the hall as they chorused “solidarity forever…” pumping their fist in the air as if to say a major feat has been accomplished even as they refrained: “Aluta Continua, Victoria Ascerta!”

Since then all efforts geared towards resolving the problem has not yielded any positive fruit as the striking lecturers have vowed to sustain the momentum of the strike and see it to a logical conclusion since, according to them, “the authorities displayed nonchalant attitude in meeting their demands”, having rebuffed ASUU’s several calls not to allow the issue to degenerate to its present state.

The latest offer made by the Governing council was rejected by the Union which it described as “vague and without substance”.

In order to bring clarity to what their agitations are and dispel allegation from some quarters that the Union is just after its “pocket”, ASUU on Thursday in a statement titled: Towards the Resolution of an Indefinite Strike Action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nasarawa State University, Keffi and made available to newsmen in Keffi, the Union carefully outlined their six demands, stating the offer made by the Governing Council so far and why the offer fell short of the agreements had it entered with the University administration.

ASUU also listed 46 projects (completed and ongoing) within the University and sources of funding for each of them and revealed that only 5 projects were all the Nasarawa State government has been able to fund since the inception of the University 15 years ago. 

“I can tell you that this University is like an Amajiri child”, a visibly disappointed member of the Union told NSUK ‘Campus Watch’. The member lamented, 

“After giving birth to this University, the state government simply abandoned it for strangers and passers-by to hand it alms. What if these ‘philanthropists’ decide they no longer want to give?” he queried rhetorically.

The ASUU document did not just lampoon the offer made by Council but proffered solutions out of the problem but did not fail to point out the gap between what the Council offered and what it ‘s demanding. 

The six demands made by ASUU and what it thinks should be done to resolve the problems are listed below:

Funding of the University

The Union is asking state government to take full control of the payment of staff salary and a clear budgetary provision for capital project. This, the Union said will allow the university to utilize its Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, for other projects, especially in daily running of the institution. The Union frowns that the University Council instead of providing clear cut funding framework and timeline, and evidence of an understanding between the Executive and Legislature of Nasarawa state government to commit themselves to the implementation of the framework, chose to be very simplistic by saying that the “2016 budget has adequately provided for the funding of the university as envisaged by ASUU” without facts and figures to back up the claim. ASUU is saying that it is ready to suspend the strike if Council can provide evidence that the funding procedure has been captured in the budget, with facts and figures that reflect the 2009 agreement which says that “the major source of funding education for national development is through budgetary allocation from State and Federal Governments”. The agreement also specified that “a minimum of 26% of the annual budget of the State and Federal Governments be allocated to education, while at least 50% of the budgeted 26% shall be allocated to the universities”.

Review of University Law

ASUU is demanding that the University law be reviewed to be in tandem with the University Miscellaneous Act of 2003/2007. This according to the Union is to provide term limit to tenure of some principal officers of the University who sources say, some of them have stayed in their current positions for about ten years as against the five-year non-renewable term provided in the Act. ASUU wants the Council to make public the draft copy of the law as the only solution to this particular grievance. The Union is not satisfied that the Council is merely saying that “the review stage was in final stages; that government was in agreement and willing to fast track the legislative process to review the law”. ASUU argues that “the notion of ‘final stages’ and ‘fast track’ of legislative process is vague and does not explain the technicalities involved in the process of the review”, insisting that the draft copy of the review be made public for scrutiny.

Review of Promotion Guideline and 2015 Promotion Exercise

ASUU says “Council must come up with framework and time of implementation of the draft promotion guideline”. They say Council must also provide framework and time for the review of the 2015 promotion exercise before acceding to any call to suspend the ongoing strike. The Union says it is not comforted by the position of Council which said that “the University administration set up a committee to review the promotion guidelines for academic staff” without providing the framework for implementation of the draft guideline.

Implementation of Recommendations of the Visitation Panel White Paper

Anything less than the full implementation of the recommendation made in the White Paper released in 2013 is not welcomed by ASUU. ASUU is demanding “that a number of the issues raised in the White Paper have been implemented”, as argued by Council must be identified and explained in writing rather than the vague statement that has no substance. It says that the “issues” that “have been implemented”, the Council wants it to believe must be made public for all to see. This it said is the only way to resolving this problem.

Earned Academic Allowance

ASUU is not happy that the Council violated the agreement between the Union and the University Administration by its “unilateral offer” of 15 percent of the EAA. ASUU may not also be happy that “government agreed to provide additional 15 percent of the EAA to the Union on the condition that the strike was called off. It also offered to settle the balance of 25 percent in November, 2016 and March 2017 at the rate of 15 and 10 percent respectively”. It therefore “demands immediate payment of the outstanding 40 percent”.

Tax

The Professor who spoke to NSUK CampusWatch complained that he is being taxed more than Seventy Thousand Naira monthly from his salary while his colleagues in other universities pay less than Ten Thousand Naira. This “obnoxious” and lopsided tax regime, ASUU said the “government must relieve its members from the payment of high tax”. The Union is not satisfied that government “agreed to set up a committee to look into the tax regime with a view to determining what line of action to take and called on government to come up with “clear commitment, framework and time for the review of the tax regime”.

If all of these things are done, ASUU is saying it has no other choice but to call of the strike.

ASUU also is insisting that government and Council must show a convincing commitment in addressing all of these demands before acceding to the call to return to class rooms.

Meanwhile, the damning revelation that only 5 out of 46 identified projects by ASUU in Nasarawa State University, Keffi were financed by the state government is a sign of sheer neglect.

ASUU in the document said most of the projects were/are funded by TETFund/ Federal government intervention, Corporate bodies and some others were inherited from the either the defunct School of Preliminary Studies(SPS) and the erstwhile College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST)— the original owners of the present NSUK.

Facilities such as the Library, Staff Housing in the Main Campus, CRDP and Pyanku, Hostels, Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences were inherited from the parent colleges listed above.

It decried the state of infrastructure in the institution and warned that if TETFund is scrapped today or corporate bodies fail to give helping hands anymore, the university runs the risk of closing down completely. The Union said this was one of the reasons why it has embarked on the ongoing strike to draw the attention of government to the infrastructural needs of the university before it is too late.

ASUU identified the Administrative block, Faculties of Arts, Social Sciences and Administration, Convocation Square, road asphalting and the ongoing students’ hostels as the ONLY projects undertaken by the state government since the inception of the in 2001.

The ASUU same document revealed that 22 projects were funded by Tertiary Education Trust Fund/Federal government presidential intervention on NEEDS Assessment, while seven others were undertaken by corporate bodies like the Central Bank of Nigeria, SAPETCO(owned by General T.Y.Danjuma), defunct Oceanic Bank, etc.

The state of infrastructures outlined by ASUU are listed below:

Inherited Infrastructure (from SPS and CAST)
1. Staff Housing, Main Campus, CRDP and Pyanku
2. Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences
3. Library 
4. Hostels 
5. Block Adjoining former PG School now Faculty of Education Building

State Financed Infrastructure 
1. The Administrative Block 
2. Faculty of Social Sciences and Administration 
3. Convocation Square
4. Road Asphalting 
5. Students Hostels (ongoing)

Internal Generated Revenue Funded Projects
1. The Work Department 
2. Assembly Hall
3. 1000 Seat Auditorium 
4. Former PG School now Faculty of Education
5. Shopping Block Behind Faculty of Law 
6. Central Stores
7. University Guest House

ETF/ TETFUND, NEEDS Assessment/Presidential Funding
1. Office Complex now Center for Cyber Space
2. Entrepreneur Development Center
3. Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies Auditorium 
4. Office Complex now Faculty Of Education
5. Faculty of Administration 500 Seat Lecture Theatre 
6. Faculty of Arts 500 Seat Lecture Theater
7. Faculty of Social Sciences 500 Seat Lecture Theatre
8. Faculty of Art 200 Seat Mini Lecture Theater
9. Office Complex 1 Opposite Diamond Bank
10. Office Complex 2 Opposite Faculty of Administration
11. Office Complex 3 Behind Office Complex 2 (ongoing)
12. Remodeled Faculty Of Natural And Applied Sciences (ongoing)
13. Renovated Male Hostels (ongoing)
14. Renovated Female Hostel (ongoing)
15. Faculty Of Law Office, Library, Lecture Halls And 500 Seat Lecture Theater
16. Main Complex Faculty Of Education (Ongoing)
17. Central Library Phase 1 (Ongoing)
18. Laboratory Facility 
19. Central Research Laboratory (Ongoing)
20. 500 Seat Faculty Of Education Lecture Theater (Ongoing)
21. ICT Center 
22. Ultra-Modern Sport Complex (Ongoing)

Cooperate Bodies
1. Post-Graduate School Build and Donated by the Central Bank of Nigeria
2. Keffi Development Foundation Office Complex
3. Mass Comm Complex by Defunct Oceanic Bank
4. SAPETCO Water System
5. SAPETCO Clinic
6. FGN Boreholes
7. ANAN Financial Center, Faculty of Administration

Source: ASUU, NSUK Chapter.


1 comment:

Powered by Blogger.