By Gabriel Dike
Worried by the effect of the seven-week-old industrial action by non-teaching staff in the university system on the academic calendar, some Vice Chancellors (VCs) have perfected plans to break the ranks of the three staff unions.
After the Christmas and New Year recess, some VCs announced resumption of academic activities and directed students to return to campus, an action the striking non-teaching staff condemned.
On Monday, December 4, 2017, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) began an indefinite strike, to protest the sharing formula of the N23 billion released by the Federal Government to settle earned allowances of workers in the university system.
Aside VCs, it was gathered that some deans and provosts called their non-teaching staff working in the faculties or colleges of medicine to resume and also, attend meetings, with a threat to sanction defaulters.
Some SSANU, NAAT and NASU members who are staff in VCs, deans and provosts’ offices reportedly received text messages and telephone calls to resume, took the matter to their various branch chairmen and strike monitoring committees.
Daily Sun learnt that after meetings with branch chairmen on the need to resume, to save the academic calendar, some VCs, deans and provosts decided to adopt a subtle approach and, in some cases, reported the union leaders to police authorities.
For instance, the University of Ibadan VC, last week, forwarded a petition to the Oyo State Commissioner of Police, where he alleged threats to his life and that of another professor by the three branch chairmen of SSANU, NAAT and NASU.
SSANU Vice President (South West), Mr. Alfred Jimoh, told Daily Sun that the three union leaders were invited to police headquarters, Eleiyele, interrogated and detained. He said the VC claimed the three chairmen were planning to kill him and one Prof Ayoola.
Jimoh confirmed moves by some VCs and deans to break their ranks and warned that the plan would be resisted and alleged that at the University of Lagos, the authorities, having failed to convince the union leaders to soft-pedal on the strike, resorted to intimidation and threats.
Former SSANU UNILAG chairman, Prince Joseph Adefolalu confirmed that the VC reported him and the union leaders to Sabo Divisional Police Station and the state Police Command, over series of protests against the sharing formula of the N23 billion earned allowances.
Prince Adefolalu disclosed that he received text messages on January 9, which invited him and other leaders to a security meeting and another one asking him to report at the Commissioner of Police’s office, at Ikeja, on January 10.
“I did not bother to reply the text message because I believe if the commissioner of police would invite me for any security meeting, it shouldn’t be through a text message. I sensed foul play,” Adefolalu said.