Text of Press Conference by Sokoto Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which comprises of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina (UMYUK), Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero (KSUSTA), Sokoto State University, Sokoto (SSU), and Federal University, Dutsinma (FUDMA), in respect of the strike action embarked upon by Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero Branch held on the 29th March, 2018 at City Campus, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
WHY ASUU KSUSTA IS ON STRIKE
Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero is no doubt one of the worst hit in terms of rot and decay as a State University in Nigeria. The level of decay is deepening over time due to apparent lack of political will by the University authority and the State Government to address the rot. KSUSTA is a clear case of a collapsing system as an educational institution. This has generated wide range of agitations by the academic community of the University.
Efforts made by the Union to avoid the strike action
You may recall that at the inception of the current Kebbi State administration in 2015, the then University Governing Council was dissolved on the 16th June, 2015 and from that time, the University was without a Governing Council until March, 2017. This development coupled with other decay indices in the University necessitates the struggle of ASUU KSUSTA which started in order to press home its demand as to stem the rot in the University. These prompted the Union’s series of visit to prominent personalities and distinguished members of the academia across the entire State, for them to intervene and prevail on the State
Government to do the needful. The personalities visited include; the Emir of Gwandu, the Emir of Argungu, Wazirin Gwandu, the Deputy Governor, Senator Muhammadu Adamu Aliero, Professors Muhammad K. Abubakar, Tijjani M. Bande and Attahiru M. Jega. The Union also reached Emirs of Yauri and Zuru, Senator Bala Ibn Na-Allah, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, and the Speaker of the State House of Assembly with various written documents. Several meetings were held with the Visitor to the University, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.
In January, 2016 the State Government through the instrumentality of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) inaugurated a negotiating Committee headed by the then Permanent Secretary Establishment, Yakubu B. Tafida with the mandate to negotiate with the Union over its demands on the state of the University. Other members of the Committee from the side of the government include; Abdulkadir Ahmed, Director, Schools Management, Ministry of Science and Technical Education; Aminu Muhammed Birnin Kebbi, Director, Higher Education, Ministry of Education; Aishatu M. Shehu, Director Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry of Science and Technical Education; Idris A. Sawwa, Director Labour and Productivity, Establishment Department and Jummai Aiki, Director Policy, Establishment Department who served as the Secretary of the Committee. The report of the Committee was presented to the State Government since 28th January, 2016 without any implementation for over a year.
It further took the Union serious struggle up to the level of the National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU-NEC) to press for the constitution of the Governing Council. At this stage, the ASUU-NEC gave the branch the leverage to embark on strike action on account of the Government’s refusal to constitute the Governing Council and also to address other lingering issues. It was at this point of the struggle that the Governing Council was constituted and inaugurated in March, 2017. In fact, it took about 2 years for the Council to be inaugurated since its dissolution in 2015.
Gentlemen of the press, when the composition of the personalities that constituted the current Governing Council was reported to ASUU-NEC, it was received with strong jubilation due to the proven integrity and caliber of the persons appointed. However, when the council arrived at its decision on election of the new Vice Chancellor (VC) on 8thJune, 2017, it lasted for more than 2 months as the Visitor sat on the appointment. This gave the impression that the independence and support from the State Government needed by the Governing Council to put the University on the path of growth and development is regrettably uncertain.
It was at this point that ASUU-NEC wrote a letter to the Visitor concerning the appointment of a substantive VC and other contentious issues affecting the University. However, it was a response to the letter that resulted to the pronouncement of the current Vice Chancellor of the University. In this connection ASUU-NEC also set up a Committee to interact with the Visitor in order to ensure amicable resolution of other pending issues. So many reminders were written as a follow up to the request for the Visitor to give audience to the ASSU NEC committee to discuss these issues to no avail.
It may also interest you to note that during the current Governing Council’s emergency meeting on 8th June 2017, the Union intimated the leadership of the Council with the 13 point demands. The meeting coincided with the Council’s visit to the students’ hostel; the Chairman of the Council expressed his dissatisfaction with the state of the students’ hostel by making a logical comparison of the state of the dilapidated structure with prison. He lamented that “it is better to stay in the prison than to stay in the students’ hostel”. This statement was made nine (9) months ago. The question now is what happened to the state of the students’ hostel since then?
Gentlemen of the press, as all efforts made by ASUU to achieve amicable resolution of the disagreement failed, the Union was left with no other option than to embark on total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action as the last resort. In spite of the 21 days ultimatum as a grace period for dialogue, the University authority was still aloof and unconcerned until six days to the expiration of the ultimatum. At that point, the management convoked a negotiation Committee on the 15th March, 2018. At the meeting which involved the Union representatives, the management’s offer was critically deliberated with a resolve to present it before the congress for final decision on the matter.
On the 19th March, 2018, which was the last day of the ultimatum, Congress meeting was held in order to study the offer made by the negotiation Committee. Based on the deliberations, the Congress unanimously resolved not to accept the offer made by the Committee. This position taken by the Congress was based on the resolution that the offer did not adequately address the 15-point demands as enumerated.
Gentlemen of the press, it may also interest you to note that while the strike action was embarked upon, the Congress still felt that there was the need for the Union to delay going to the press to allow room for the negotiations to continue despite the strike action. In a related development, the Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University, Senator, Major General Mohammed Magoro (rtd), OFR, in a press release issued by the Registrar and Secretary to the Council, Musa Labbo Jega, directed the enforcement of the NO WORK NO PAY POLICY.
It is based on this backdrop that an invitation letter dated 23rd March, 2018 was issued to the Union for a meeting scheduled to hold on 27th March, 2018 with selected members of the Governing Council. While preparations were ongoing for the meeting to hold by 11:00 am, another letter was served informing the Union that the proposed meeting with the Union is hereby suspended indefinitely. This decision strengthened the earlier impression that the Government is interfering with the independence of the Governing Council and as well not interested in the development of the only State University. It is also important to inform the public that the University authority has illegally refused to pay the salary of the striking workers for the month of March 2018 which they have worked for. This further confirms their lack of interest in peace and the development of the University. In this regard, we find it right, expedient and convenient to address the press because it is very obvious that the University authority is not interested in the early resolution of these avoidable crises.
Gentlemen of the press, the issues of agitation are as follows;
1. Substantive University Bursar and Librarian should be appointed to replace the Acting Bursar and Librarian who have been on acting capacity for more than 4 and 10 years respectively.
Although the Union is aware of the effort of the University authority for advertising these positions and could not get qualified candidates. Since the Acting Bursar and the Acting Librarian, have overstayed their acting period within the stipulated University law, the Union resolved that, they should be replaced with another set of Acting Bursar and Acting Librarian for not more than six (6) months while the Governing Council should fast track the effort in ensuring the appointment of substantive Bursar and Librarian.
2. Recruitment of Academic Staff across all the departments in the University in line with the Benchmark for Minimum Academic Standard.
It was observed with dismay that the University has only few numbers of Senior Academic Staff, thus suffering deficiency in many more other categories which is inimical to the status of a University and might suffer set- back in terms of accreditation of some programmes in due course.
3. Convocation Ceremony for the seven (7) sets of Graduands should be conducted as a matter of urgency.
It was observed that from 2011 to date, no convocation was held for the graduands, this denied them the right of collecting their certificates as well as reducing the strength of their credibility in the labour market. In order to add credence to the graduands of the institution, it is resolved that a combined convocation of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 graduands be conducted as soon as possible.
4. Implementation of 2016 and 2017 promotions and payment of arrears.
Gentlemen of the press, we want to bring to the public notice that, since inception of the University, there has not been full implementation of promotions and payment of arrears as and when due. For 2016 promotions, only 4 months arrears were paid out of the 17 months owed, while, 2017 promotion is still pending. This could result to brain drain and dampening the morale of the University staff.
5. Payment of arrears of annual increment
Out of the 26 months owed the members of the University staff as yearly increment, only 14 months were paid recently, while 12 months are yet to be paid.
6.Substantial upward review of the sum of Five million naira (N5,000,000.00) monthly overhead cost for the running of the University.
It was also observed that since the inception of the University to date, the sum of five million naira (N 5,000,000.00) has been the monthly allocation to the University. This is considered not only inadequate, but not in tandem with prevailing inflationary trends, the increasing demands of the University arising from its expansion and the prevailing market situation. The State Government should increase the monthly allocation to an appreciable level in comparison with other State Universities in the federation.
7. Faithful implementation of the annual budget of the University.
For the past two years, the Union observes a drastic reduction in the capital budgetary allocation to the University. Sequel to that, the Union noticed that the capital budgetary allocation to the University has not been implemented. The State Government should not only increase the annual budget of the University but should also ensure faithful implementation of the defended budget before the State House of Assembly.
8. Payment of Earned Academic Allowance (2009 to date).
It is essential for you to note that the State Government was briefed by our Union that payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) for all the outlying State Universities around Kebbi State which include: Kano State University of Science and Technology Wudil, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University Katsina, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai and Kaduna State University Kaduna, among others have been implemented with the exception of Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero. Therefore, the University authority should ensure the payment of Earned Academic Allowances as soon as possible.
9. Improvement of infrastructural facilities such as Students’ Hostel, Staff Housing, Road Networks and Staff Offices.
The Union observed that for the past five (5) years, no capital project was executed by the State Government; this implies that budgetary provisions for the period under review had not been complied with. It was further noted that majority of the capital projects undertaken in the University for the periods were obtained and attained through the instrumentality of TETFund and NEEDS ASSESMENT interventions. This indicates that only academic inclined projects were addressed, thereby relegating other infrastructural facilities to the background, such as road network, students’ hostel, staff housing, staff offices etc.
10. Sponsorship for staff training and development.
It is observed with consternation that the University has only few numbers of senior academic staff and suffers deficiency in many more other categories which are inimical to the status of a University. The implication is that the University will suffer set-back in terms of accreditation of some programmes.
11. Implementation of the 70-year retirement age and payment of full salary to retired Professors.
There is need for domesticating the provisions of the law for the retirement age and payment of full salary to retired Professors by the State Government.
12. Payment of employer contribution on pension scheme as stipulated in the Pension Reform Act 2014.
Since the inception of the contributory pension scheme, the State Government has not fulfilled her obligation by failing to contribute its part of employer contribution as clearly stated in the Pension Reform Act 2014. However, KSUSTA Staff have been making their contributions since 2015. The Government should ensure timely release of her contribution as soon as possible.
13. Installation of laboratory equipments that are lying idle within the University.
Laboratory equipments worth billions of naira were procured since inception of the University and are lying fallow in the laboratories. These equipments include; X-Ray Diffractions (XRD) Machine, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionised Detector (GC-FID), Gas Chromatography – Electron Capture Detector (GC–ECD), Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR), UV-visible spectrophotometer, Differential Thermal Analyzer (DTA), Elemental Analyzer, Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) among others. The University authority should urgently install these equipments to meet with upcoming accreditation exercises as well to acquaint the students with the usage.
14. Remittance of Kebbi State indigene Students’ registration fees that the Kebbi State Government owes the University.
The Kebbi State Government has been providing debit advice to students to be registered with the aim of remitting their registration fees to the University. Currently, the University is been owed registration fees for more than two academic sessions. However, the Union demands remittance of the remaining balance.
15. Upgrading of the University Clinic to meet the required standard of National Health Insurance Scheme.
The Union demands that the University Clinic should be made fully operational with full facilities in line with the National Health Insurance standard.
Gentlemen of the press, our Union invite Labour Activists, Students, Traders, Professional Groups, Civil Society Organizations and other Progressive members of the public to join our determined efforts to save education in Kebbi State.
Finally, we call on all indigene of Kebbi State who care about our State, all men and women of good will, to prevail on the University authority and the Kebbi State Government to remove destructive politics in the running of the only State University and do what is just and noble as its present approach will only compound the deepening crises.
Lawali Alkali Argungu, Ph.D
Zonal Coordinator ASUU Sokoto Zone
For and on behalf of ASUU Sokoto Zone
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