Students of the Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) appear to be running out of patience amid the ongoing strike embarked upon by workers of the institution.
In its latest move, AKSU Student’s Union Government (SUG) has extended an earlier 72-hour ultimatum – which expires at 11:59 pm today 8 June 2021 – by another 24 hours while awaiting the strike to be called off.
It is unclear what would happen at the end of the ultimatum. But the Union had warned it would embark on a “media campaign” to press further its demands and tell “the whole world our plight”.
“We intend to go very far and wide with our reach and should not be underestimated,” it said. “We, The Union, further resolved and affirmed that we shall not hesitate to go all out in our campaigns and will leave no stone unturned until we are returned back to school”.
Students have been at home owing to the lingering issue between the Akwa Ibom State Government, AKSU management and the Joint Action Committee (JAC) – made up of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologist (NAAT).
What’s the issue?
FIRST REPORTS understands the staff of the institution are striking over the following issues:
- Payment of outstanding 25% salaries of 10 months
- Payment of 2019/2020 leave grants and promotion arrears
- payment of 16 months salaries arrears to 279 AKSU workers employed in 2014
Vice-Chancellor Prof Nse Essien had directed workers to resume duty, stressing on no work no pay policy, even as he urged students to get back to classes.
“The Vice-Chancellor has directed all staff members of Akwa Ibom State University to return to their duty posts by Monday, June 07, 2021 and that payment of salaries from the month of June 2021 will be based on ‘no work no pay’ Government policy,” said Registrar Mr John Udo, in a press release. “The Vice-Chancellor has appealed to all members of staff to comply accordingly.”
On Monday, however, striking workers formed pickets outside the gates of the institution – at the two campuses: Obio Akpa in Oruk Anam and Ikot Akpaden in Mkpat Enin – effectively barring students from resuming academic activities.
Students to take action
AKSU SUG on Tuesday noted that the Chairman Akwa Ibom House of Assembly Committee on Education, Rt Hon Godwin Ekpo in a phone discussion has disclosed to the SUG President Benjamin Ibok that talks for an agreement between AKSU management and the JAC – where a resolution will be reached and signed in favour of resumption for the students – was ongoing.
But the Student Union has expressed that it would take action if the resolution fails to resolve the situation, noting that “the Union shall therefore call for an emergency congress and the way forward will be deliberated”.
On Saturday June 5, the Joint Action Committee said it was shocked and worried by the “level of insensitivity” the University management had displayed towards the plight of workers in the Akwa Ibom state university.
JAC claimed that the AKSU management was intentionally refusing to pay its workers’ salary as contained in the Terms of Contract of the workers.
While instructing all members to continue with the sit-at-home directive as resolved in the JAC congress of 19 May 2021, JAC further stated that “the leadership of JAC is presently meeting with the government with a view to amicably resolving the present impasse”.
An AKSU member of staff who didn’t want his name on print, told FIRST REPORTS today that workers were determined to drive home their demands, noting that the main sticking point of the strike was the reduction of salaries which State Governor Udom Emmanuel explained was necessary in order for AKSU to be on the same page with the salary scale of the National Universities Commission (NUC).
In a recent media chat, the Governor had revealed that “I have given Akwa Ibom State University N327million as grant every month,” adding that “going by the figures available to me, lecturers in AKSU receive one of the highest salaries in the country”.
But the source told this news outlet that AKSU management reportedly told the JAC that N250 million was given by Governor Emmanuel, N77 million less than the governor’s figure.
In any case, he appealed to all parties involved to ensure that the closure of Akwa Ibom State University is brought to an end and that the institution is opened up for academic activities.
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