The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Ambrose Alli University, AAU, Ekpoma chapter, which has been at loggerheads with the state government over the administration of the school, has demanded the payment of all outstanding emoluments in form of salaries, check-off dues, and other deductions of staff without further delay to avoid the continuation of the local strike when the national ASUU strike is suspended. The union put the amount owed the workers at over ₦4 trillion.
The lecturers also demanded from the state government, the approval of a bail-out fund for the university, a satisfactory increase in its monthly subvention, as well as an investigation of an alleged ongoing academic fraud in the university, which they said should be dealt with decisively.
Consequently, the union called on the National Universities Commission, NUC, to immediately do the needful.
The ASUU, Benin Zone, made these demands on Monday in Benin at a press conference, which the union’s Coordinator, Prof. Fred Esumeh, said became expedient due to the marketing of lies, propaganda, mischief, and blackmail against the branch of the union in the institution.
Esumeh, who was joined by the chairmen of branches under the zone, said the union frowned at the poor funding and mismanagement of the university’s resources with the management’s inability to meet its obligation of payment of staff emoluments, hence a resort to irregular and selective payment of salaries.
Bemoaning the recent reduction in the monthly subvention of the university from ₦270 million to an abysmally low ₦41.3 million, Esumeh said this has led to the workers being owed 20 month salary arrears from 2020 to date, and 15 months of unremitted sundry deductions to staff unions.
According to Esumeh, “The state government must of necessity, intervene at this point to clear the arrears of emoluments of workers of the university. For what it is, the problem is a catalyst for industrial crisis and therefore a threat to the smooth running of the academic calendar and the general administration of the university”. While also expressing discomfiture over the current management model in the institution, which it described as “bizarre”, and far from the ideal administrative style of university administration in the country, the union noted that the institution was being run on “ad-hoc basis” with an amendment to its law, which set up Special Intervention Team (SIP) as against Governing Council required by the NUC.
Esumeh was worried that the university’s management might be de-marketing the quality and value of certificates of its degree programmes by forcing the resumption of academic activities and illegal conduct of examinations without the input of relevant course lecturers.
Esumeh drew attention to other issues which needed the immediate attention of stakeholders. These, he noted, included the suppression of staff right and freedom of association, controversial and inconclusive biometrics, among others, adding that “The Edo Government should make haste to release a white paper on the report of the Special Visitation Panel to the university in October 2020 to deter further embezzlement of the finances of the university and mismanagement of its affairs”.
Esumeh in the same vein, called for the restoration of the governing council to pave way for immediate appointment of substantive principal officers.
ASUU AAU suggested that to achieve industrial peace at the university, the management and the state government must return to “the path of truth, dialogue, and sincere commitment” to the resolution of the crisis.