Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Ekpoma chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has described the series of recent developments in the state-owned University, the unprecedented amendment of the University Laws–Special Intervention Powers Provisions Law 2021 and the appointment of an Acting Vice-Chancellor for the University by the State Government as an unlawful invasion.
The union said that this is unacceptable in the face of unresolved debilitating industrial crisis occasioned by the strike action of all staff unions (ASUU, SSANU, NAAT and NASU) in the University over unpaid wages/earnings, check-off dues and other sundry deductions.
The University’s Chapter of ASUU in a statement signed by Dr Monday Igbafen and Dr Anthony Coker-Aizebioje, Chairperson and Secretary of the union said it was unconvinced by the reason given by the State Government for the unconventional and hasty amendment of the University Law, an amendment which, the Union alleged conferred on the Governor extra-ordinary powers to “invade” the University with total disregard for the devastating consequences on University autonomy, long-tested traditions, ethos and organs of the University.
The Union viewed the reason given by the Governor and Visitor to the University in the controversial amendment saga as a smokescreen to take over the University for the purpose of eroding the autonomy of the University and installing Sole Administratorship with the Acting Vice-Chancellor as camouflage.
The Union also faulted the fashion in which the University Governing Council was dissolved.
“The Council as a tenured organ of the University cannot be dissolved by fiat without legal consequences for the University and the State.” the Union said.
The University Chapter of ASUU expressed concern that the Visitor exploited the newly amended section of the University Law, to appoint an Acting Vice-Chancellor (from outside the University against the tradition of the University) for the University.
The Union enumerated the negative implications of the recent actions of the Governor for the viability of the University to include (i) Erosion of University autonomy (as enshrined in the University Miscellaneous Act 2003 as amended) and violation of the structures laid down by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in the administration of Universities in Nigeria; (ii) Gravitation towards the commercialization of university education; (iii) Tendency towards Sole Administrationship of the University which has long been outlawed in Nigerian Universities; and (iv) Escalation of the crisis in the University.
The Union called on the Governor and Visitor to the University to, in the interest of the future of the University, reconsider the obnoxious amendment.
While identifying the major problems facing the university, both in its past and present existence, to include the direct state politicization, neglect and gross underfunding by the successive governments of the State, ASUU claimed that “the University has been denied all forms of concrete recurrent and capital budgetary provisions.”
Recalling its long time efforts, including letters, memos and meetings to draw the attention of the State Government to this recurring problem, the Union insisted that the abysmal failure of the State Government to resolve the knotty problem of inadequate funding was the core cause of the ongoing strike action by all the staff unions (ASUU, SSANU, NAAT and NASU) in the University.
“For the avoidance of doubt, workers/retirees in the University are suffering due to non-payment of salaries for five (5) months and unpaid check-off dues, pensions, gratuities and other sundry deductions from staff salaries for over one year.”, ASUU said.
The Union reaffirmed that the immediate cause of the current crisis in the university was a product of severe underfunding and neglect by the Edo State Government as well as State Government’s persistent inaction on the problems of mismanagement and maladministration in the University in recent past, citing the inaction of the Visitor to the University on the Due-Diligence Report which revealed a lot of financial and administrative mismanagement and mind-boggling financial improprieties and the Report of the Special Visitation Panel.
Consequent on the above, ASUU AAU, Ekpoma insisted that the Governor and Visitor to the University must as a matter of urgency address the problems of workers/pensioners in the University with particular reference to payment of outstanding salaries (5 months), check-off dues and sundry deductions for over one year.
“The Governor should reconstitute the Governing Council for the University without delay for a proper management of the University, in line with global best practices of University governance.
“The Government should release and make public the Report of the Special Visitation Panel for clear repositioning of the University with the recent amendments in the University Law be abrogated because they are unnecessary.
“The Governor as the Visitor to the University should use the extant laws of the University for the good governance and repositioning of the University and refrain from invasion of the University, under any guise.
“And for the purposes of transparency and accountability, the Governor should also promptly release the White Paper on the Visitation Panel Report to the public”
Culled from Anaedo online