According to FESTUS OGUN, Students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State,have threatened to “occupy” the office of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, if he fails to meet their lecturers’ demands. This was their resolution when they gathered to discuss their lecturers’ ongoing strike.
When will the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, enjoy strike-free session? This is the question students posed last weekend when they gathered to discuss their lecturers’ ongoing strike.
For over three weeks, activities on the campus have been paralysed, following the indefinite strike embarked upon by the local chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the government’s alleged failure to fund the school.
ASUU said the government had not funded the school for 23 months, resulting in the non-payment of salaries for the past three months.
The students are wondering why their lecturers must go on strike before being paid their salaries. The students said the strike would slow down the school’s academic calendar. They also expressed dissatisfaction over what they called government’s “lackadaisical attitude” towards the institution.
The school’s ASUU Chairman, Dr Deji Agboola, said lecturers had worked for three months without being paid. He accused Governor Ibikunle Amosun of “reneging” on the promises made to the union during a warning strike a few months ago. He added that the government had neglected the institution.
Agboola said: “The issue on ground is non-payment of salary by the government. And there is no assurance that we are going to have our salaries paid in the next four or five months.”
He said ASUU has adopted “no pay, no work” indefinite action to press home its demands.
The university, he disclosed, was being run with fees paid by the students. He said: “This government has not brought a dime to fund the university. The university management has used internally-generated revenue (IGR) to pay salaries of some workers in the past 23 months.”
Agboola said the institution’s IGR should have been invested in research and infrastructure projects on the campus, adding that all projects inaugurated on the campus recently by Governor Amosun, were those donated by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
He said: “The university IGR was exhausted in June. By the end of July, it became obvious that we were not going to get salaries any longer. Again, these students, some of whom were done with their examinations, are not going to come back until October. This means workers will not earn anything till then, because the state government has not been responsible enough to even do anything in the university for the past 23 months.”
The development is drawing a strong response from students, who are disenchanted with the continued closure of the school.
Barring last minute change of mind, students, after their meeting convened at the instance of their leaders, Students’ Union Government (SUG) last weekend have vowed to march on the governor’s office at Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
The planned protest, a source told CAMPUSLIFE, would be joined by members of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the local chapter of Joint Campus Committee (JCC). At the meeting, it was unanimously agreed that if the government does not reach agreement with the striking lecturers this week, the governor will receive “strange visitors” in his office. For security reasons, a member of the SUG said the date of the protest would not be announced.
A 200-Level Biochemistry student, Femi Wilson, said the lecturers’ action was lawful. He blamed the government for abandoning the institution. “The government is not ready to fund the school. If it is not so, I don’t expect the strike to have gotten to this level, where workers have had to declare indefinite action,” he said.
While many students blamed the government, some have faulted the timing of the lecturers’ action. They said the strike came at a “delicate period” in the school.
Olumuyiwa Odubela, a 300-Level Law student, said ASUU should have allowed the ongoing semester examination to end before embarking on the strike. According to him, the lecturers were insensitive to students’ plight before announcing the action.
He said: “I don’t know why the lecturers did not wait for the right time to embark on their industrial action. Examination time is the least period to think of strike. This will affect the academic calendar negatively, because all examinations will have to be rescheduled. Results of papers already written are being delayed, while graduating students are held to ransom by the lecturers.”
Another student, Titiloye Dawodu, told CAMPUSLIFE that she was not happy about the development, urging the government to accede to the lecturers’ demands. She noted that if the strike continued, she would use the period to learn a vocation.
For three weeks, students have been left idle. Most of them have expressed deep regrets over the development. Taiwo Dada, a 300-Level Political Science student, said the strike would prolong her stay on the campus. She said: “The strike has affected me and other students in a lot of ways. How do they expect us to cope with the attendant frustration? Many have stopped reading, yet whenever they call off the strike, they would ask us to come and write examinations the next day. This is deeply frustrating.”
Speaking with CAMPUSLIFE, the SUG president, Tayo Mabunmi, also expressed his grievances over the matter. He said several appeal letters were written to the government on the non-payment of the lecturers’ salary. According to him, negotiations are on-going. He added that if the negotiation failed, students would have no option than to march on the governor’s office.
He said: “Obviously, our lecturers are fighting a just cause. They deserve to be paid on time. Subventions for the school should not also be withheld. Students are clamoring for confrontation, but we have to put our consolidation very tight and put a lot of considerations in place before we embark on the protest. And if we are to protest, we are going to do it in a way that no life or property will be lost.”
When The Nation spoke to Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Modupe Mujota, to get the government’s reaction, she said she was in a meeting and asked our reporter to call back an hour later.
When our reporter called back after an hour, Mrs Mujota said the reporter should send a text message. She did not respond to the message before press time last night.
Okegbemi Olusoji Festus is an Editor/Creative writer at campustori.com, A digital media Executive and a known Social Media Enthusiast.