By Rotimi Ojomoyela Ado-Ekiti
Following strike action declared by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the non-implementation of the 2009 Agreement with the Federal Government, Academic activities have been grounded at Ekiti State University, EKSU and Federal University,Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) with a good number of students travelling back home
ASUU members have justified strike action which it said was long overdue, while on the other hand, students and parents are not happy with the situation which they believe would unnecessarily extend the academic calendar.
Speaking with Vanguard, the Chairman of ASUU at Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado-Ekiti, Prof. Olufayo Olu-Olu, said there was nothing wrong about the timing of the strike as the university teachers had endured a long wait to have the 2009 Agreement implemented.
Olu-Olu said the union had engaged government in consultations and communication calling for meetings to resolve the lingering issues which and it was allegedly rebuffed by powers that be saying strike was the last resort to ensure implementation of the agreement.
He said that part of the agreement was the setting up of a pension scheme varsity teachers in which ASUU as a body had contributed over N1 billion but members who are retiring have been denied access to the fund by the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA).
”We kept on reminding them and within this eight years, they have been changing governments and you are hearing how they have been embezzling money and spending huge amounts of money on elections every four years.
“Those in the Executive arm, those in the Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly members are earning huge sums of money despite the recession in our country and the same government has refused to implement our agreement.
“For our members, the future is very important and by the time you are already old and you want to disengage from the system, they will ask you to disengage. Look at what is happening to retired school teachers in town with some of them collapsing on the queue waiting for their pension.
“ASUU National directed us to register with the PFA and we sent money to them and they are holding on to our money. We asked them to give us our pension and they refuse to give it our members.”
Reacting to the development in a chat with newsmen in Ado Ekiti, a parent, Mr Kolawole Alabi, who described himself as a parent, said that the strike had started to bite since Monday as students stayed away from Campuses.
He urged the striking lecturers to return to classroom while also returning to the negotiating table with the government. Alabi pleaded with the government and other relevant stakeholders to quickly resolved the impasse in the interest of the innocent students who bear the negative consequence of the Industrial action.
“My appeal is to the striking lecturers to to call off their strike in the overall interest of the nation. They should embrace dialogue to solve the problem. “Any strike action by University workers always have undesirable consequences on the students who could resort to negative activities that sometimes lead to unwanted pregnancies and other deviant behaviours,” he said.
Another parent, Mr. Paul Adebamito, who has a daughter schooling at EKSU said he was saddened that the strike commence at a week students were supposed to start their examination urging ASUU and government to reach an agreement to prevent a lengthy face-off According to him, “What pains me most was that the lecturers went on strike a week the students were supposed to start their examination. With this situation, many of the students will be doing a lot of negative things.
“I still recollect that during the last general strike by ASUU members, many of the female students got pregnant while some male students took to robbery and cyber crimes.
For the sake of these children, let them find a quick solution to the strike.” Mrs. Ruth Oladimeji, who has a child in one of the Universities said: “It is a pity that ASUU and government are still on this 2009 Agreement. The lecturers should have mercy on the common man because many of those in government don’t have their children in Nigeria, their children are schooling abroad”
A student of Geography at EKSU, Tomiwa Ipinlaye, described the strike as a “big blow” to her dream of graduating and going for the national youth service “as soon as possible. “I am still working on my project and this lastest strike means my supervisor won’t attend to me again until they call off the strike and this may affect my mobilisation for NYSC as soon as possible.”