…factional leaders disagree

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Abuja (UniAbuja) branch, has commenced industrial action to demand some changes in the administration of the university, particularly what it identified as some illegalities in the administration of the school as regards employment, promotion, and several others.

Chairman UniAbuja ASUU, Dr. Sylvester Ugoh, told journalists in Abuja, on Thursday, that there are several other issues that cannot be highlighted at the moment, hence the decision of the union to withdraw their services pending the resolution of the challenges with the school management.

He particularly made reference to the ongoing process of hiring a new Vice Chancellor for the school, stating that the process was wrong and should be stopped forthwith, stressing that the Act establishing the university does not give power to any other person to hire a Vice Chancellor except the Governing Council, and unfortunately, the Council is not yet in place.

He said: “the University administration did vacancy advertorial recently for the post of VC despite the earlier warning by the Union, and drawing its attention that it should not be done as it is an act of illegality. But the university management was adamant.”

“The second is the refusal of the university administration to conduct elections in to the Office of Deans of Faculties and for the post of Provost of College of Health Sciences. These are issues that have been with the administration of the University over time, because the Act of the university stipulates that position of Deans and Provost is by election, but that has not been done and some of those acting have been there for more than two years, and the University has refused to do what is lawful.”

Dr. Ugoh, also said another reason for the strike is the issue of massive employment of staff without due process, which was in violation of the act establishing the institution.

He made reference to the part of the Act that requested that advertisement be done on the National Dailies, by the Governing Council, but in the last couple of months the current administration has employed not less than 300 staff into the university system without due process, and we felt it’s an act of illegality and impunity, not giving regards to the law.

“Also, the issue of promotion exercise, it is the Council that carry out promotion, and it is not in place. Unfortunately, the university has gone ahead to constitute interim team, which is nowhere in Act to promote staff, and for us it is act of lawlessness, and we feel that should not be allowed to continue,” he added.

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A faction of the Union led by Dr. A.G. Kari and Prof. M. G. Gana, in a statement, rejected the decision of the Dr. Ugoh led ASUU, describing the reasons for the decision as unfounded.

They said in that statement that, “we vehemently demand that ASUU must work for ASUU and not a hidden cabal that are out to take the university of Abuja back to the inglorious yesteryears.

“A decision to go on an indefinite strike without at any point, seeking members of ASUU’s vote for or against is absolutely not the ASUU procedure for calling strike. So, the so-called strike remains unrepresentative of the larger members of ASUU and cannot stand.

“Obviously, the cabal dictating to the Dr. Ugoh led local ASUU desperately want a strike to satisfy their personal interest but never the larger interest of ASUU members and the university of Abuja.

“Members of ASUU, standing for several other members with like minds but unavoidably absent rise to reassure students, parents and members of the public that we will protect the sanctity of the University of Abuja’s robust academic calendar and continue to work for continuous opening of the university operations.”

Meanwhile, the University spokesperson, Dr. Habib Yakub, in his reaction, noted that some of the issues raised by the Union have been trashed, admitting that advert was placed by the University in the absent of the Council, but the Minister is the final authority that approved of it, “so if they have any grouse they should be settling that with the minister.”

He added: “The Council is not in place but the university is not going to allow its affairs to be grounded by the absent of the Council, and it has taken certain responsibilities to move the university forward.”

On the alleged irregularities in promotion, he said some ASUU members benefitted, and have not come out to reject it. “The university has not employed for a long time, but the management took its time to engage different bodies and authorities before it started and the employment started with adjuncts.

“The employment is not illegal because it has also gone through the due process as relevant bodies are involved in it including the character commission. You cannot say because the Council is not in place, every action taken by the university becomes illegal.

“On the issue of microfinance bank, members of ASUU were parts of the microfinance bank, and I don’t know at what point they felt they have been sidelined,” he explained.