OAU lecturers begin indefinite strike over unpaid allowances

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)

Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, on Monday, commenced an indefinite strike over what they described as the refusal of the institution’s management to pay their earned academic allowance.

They accused the Eyitope Ogunbodede-led management of unnecessarily delaying the payment of the allowance which they claimed had since been remitted into the university’s account by the Nigerian government since December 13, 2021.

The union took the decision at an emergency congress, which was held at the First Bank Lecture Hall on Monday morning.

But the university management, which had earlier described the strike threat issued by the union as a “family affair,” said it is still watching the events as they unfold before taking the next step.

Findings

The controversies trailing the sharing formula to be adopted by the management for the allowance as ASUU leadership on the campus and that of a splinter faction under the umbrella of the Congress of Nigerian Universities’ Academics (CONUA) had disagreed vehemently.

The two groups had designed two different templates to share the fund but the university management had requested harmonisation, and held several meetings with the two factions without a resolution.

At the weekend, in preparation for the congress on Monday, the leadership of ASUU on the campus accused the university management of insincerity.

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In a memorandum shared among its members on Saturday and signed by its chairperson, Adeola Egbedokun, the union reported that the national leadership of the union had approved its request to commence the indefinite strike action.

The memorandum, titled; “Update on Disbursement of EAA,” and dated January 29, 2021, read in part: “We have waited PATIENTLY till Friday 28/01/2022 for the university administration to do the needful with respect to our EAA. Up till this moment, the union is not in receipt of any communication whether on readiness to pay EAA or report of verification exercise.

“The Comrade National President and Zonal Coordinator had been communicated. The comrade President has given the permission to the branch to hold a congress to conclude and begin the action we asked for. The President will be awaiting the resolution of the congress as soon as we rise from the meeting. Comrades, notice of congress shall be out very soon. Let us remain resolute and strong. Solidarity forever.”

The memorandum was subsequently followed by a notice of congress slated for Monday which was signed by the union’s secretary, Kayode Atilade.

Confirming the development on the phone to our reporter on Monday afternoon, the chairperson of ASUU on the campus, Mr Egbedokun, said the strike is total and comprehensive.

He, however, pledged to forward the resolutions of the congress to this newspaper as soon as possible.

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Congress resolution

A resolution of the congress shared with this newspaper by the ASUU chairperson on the campus stated that the strike was declared at exactly 11:53a.m.

It read in part: “Congress was called to order at about 10.16a.m…Chairman briefed congress on the series of engagements the executive has had with some senior members of the University community. He also reported his phone conversation with the Vice Chancellor.

“Congress noted that there was no serious commitment on the part of the University to effect payment of EAA to deserving members. Congress also noted that all political and diplomatic means to resolve the imbroglio have failed. Consequently, congress resolved that: i. Total, Comprehensive and Indefinite Strike should commence immediately (ii.) The strike must not be called off without a congress resolution to the effect. (iii.) Payment of EAA must be based on ASUU computation. Anything short of this would be unacceptable.”

The union also resolved to set up a committee to be known as “strike coordinating committee’ and that “based on the above and on the strength of the permission granted by ASUU National President, the Chairman, on behalf of the congress declared the commencement of ASUU OAU’s strike at exactly 11:53 am.”

Meanwhile, efforts to get the reactions of the leadership of CONUA to the development yielded no results as the mobile telephone line of its chairperson, Niyi Sunmonu, was switched off.

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We’re watching – University

The university’s public relations officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, said the management would react later on the matter.

“Yes, like we said earlier it is a family matter. We are still watching the developments as they unfold to know the next step. Thanks so much,” Mr Olarewaju said.

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