THE Benin Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), at the weekend, took a hard look at the recent actions and decisions of the Visitor to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki in the state-owned institution and described the actions totally as unacceptable.
The Governor’s adumbration was contained in a press statement made available to Trojan.com.ng and signed by Prof. Fred I. Esumeh, Zonal Coordinator, Benin Zone of ASUU.
“The Union said that the Governor’s recent actions does not only constitute an assault on the long-cherished university autonomy but portend grave and terrifying danger in the management and administration of public universities in Nigeria.
“Rising from a meeting held at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE), the Benin Zone of ASUU condemned the specific recent actions of the Governor to include the unprecedented amendment of the University laws, the dissolution of the University’s Governing Council and the appointment of an Acting Vice-Chancellor, which according to the Union were all done “by the Visitor in a most unrefined and fascist manner and in the derailment of the civic ethos of lawmaking.”
“In a release issued in Effurun, Delta State and signed by the Union’s Zonal Coordinator, Prof. Fred Esumeh, the Union particularly noted with concern that the said amendment of the University Laws was not only unconventionally and hastily done but was also shrouded in unholy secrecy, adding that conferring extraordinary powers on the Governor and Visitor to the University with and most, unfortunately, the ‘almighty power’ to do and undo in the management of the University leaves much to be desired. The new law is nothing but an instrument of an emerging sole Administrator cum Dictator, the Union opined.
“ASUU viewed the recent actions by Governor Obaseki in the institution as an affront on the sanctity of the University system and a ploy to obliterate all relevant sensitive administrative organs of the University, including the Governing Council in order to re-launch sole administratorship in the management and administration of the institution, which had been outlawed in Nigerian public universities.
“The Benin Zone of ASUU, which comprises the University of Benin, Benin City, the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, the Delta State University, Abraka and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, tasked the Governor and Visitor to the University to immediately reconsider his actions to allow the institution to run in accordance with global best practices of University governance, the National Universities Commission (NUC) guidelines, the long-tested university traditions and autonomy of the University system.
“The Union berated the Governor for an obvious lack of political will to release to the public the report of the conducted Due-Diligence exercise into the finances and administration of the University which revealed a lot of financial and administrative mismanagement as well as the White Paper on the Report of the Special Visitation Panel to the University in October last year.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ASUU stated that workers/retirees in the University are suffering due to non-payment of salaries for five (5) months and unpaid check-off dues, pensions, gratuities, and other sundry deductions from staff salaries for over one year.”
“The Benin Zone of ASUU accused the Governor of underfunding the state-owned institution and blamed the hitherto inaction or indifference of the Governor for the mismanagement, maladministration and monumental financial recklessness which largely resulted in the current industrial and general crises in the institution.
“The Union bemoaned the hardship and sufferings which members and other workers in state-owned universities in the Benin Zone of ASUU are passing through as a result of inadequate funding leading to several months of unpaid salaries, check-off dues and other sundry deductions in the state-owned institutions which included Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, and Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa both in Ondo State.
“According to ASUU, “to be sure, it is heartless and callous on the part of the concerned authorities in AAU, Ekpoma to acknowledge owing workers/retirees unpaid salaries of five (5) months and unpaid check-off dues, pensions, gratuities and other sundry deductions from staff salaries for over one year and expect them to resume work on an empty stomach.”
“Condemning the underfunding posture of the Edo State Government towards the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, and the insensitivity of Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State Government to adequate funding of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, and Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, the Union identified the problem of inadequate funding as the bane of the problem in these universities, leading to non-payment of salaries for several months and unpaid arrears of check-off dues and other sundry deductions for over one year, with its accompanying consequences in the smooth running of the universities, including relentless agitations by workers.
“The Union urged the two-state governments to keep faith with the slogan that education is the bedrock of development and nation-building, adding that the Edo State Government and Ondo State Government as a deliberate policy should fund and make education particularly at the tertiary level assessable to the poor”, the press statement reads.
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