REOPEN THE UNIVERSITY NOW AND MEET THE DEMANDS OF NASU MEMBERS
The decision of the administration of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife to close down the University over its inability to meet the demands of striking members of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) is highly condemnable.
The closure also constitutes a serious breach of the University's mandate to ensure a hitch-free and enabling environment conducive for learning for the benefit of all students admitted into its various academic programmes. By closing down the University under the guise of a "mid-semester break", the University administration has disrupted the academic calendar and has caused immeasurable setback and harm to students.
Closing down a University under the guise of a "mid-semester break" is nothing but administrative rascality on the part of the Prof. Bamitale Omole-led administration of OAU. Mid-semester break is unknown in the academic traditions of Universities in Nigeria. Aside from the occasional public holidays declared by the Federal government and the University's statutory breaks in between semesters and sessions, mid-semester break is an anomaly introduced into the University system by despotic Vice Chancellors who have thrown their Universities into avoidable turmoil over their gross irresponsibility, executive recklessness and failure to meet legitimate demands of their unions.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) demands the immediate reopening of the University. We also call on the Prof. Bamitale-led University administration to immediately meet the demands of members of the Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) who are on strike to demand the payment of 64 month arrears of hazard allowance as well as improved condition of service. This is the only way to settle the ongoing industrial dispute and avoid needless prolongation of the crisis to the detriment of students, members of staff and the entire university community.
We make this call conscious of steps being taken by the University administration to intimidate the striking members to resume unfailingly on Tuesday 21st July 2015 or face disciplinary actions. We warn the University that the era of military despotism has passed and that Universities cannot be administered with the aid of garrison tactics or with a crude mindset that Vice Chancellors are gods whose words must be obeyed by all.
Workers have legitimate rights to defend their rights to their pay and decent working condition using the instrumentality of peaceful protests and withdrawal of their service (strike action). These rights are not only guaranteed by the constitution of the country, they are inalienable rights that must be recognized by all, not least administrators of Universities.
We call on other staff unions and students to support the struggle of the striking NASU members and help mount sustained pressure on the management to meet their demands.
For any avoidance of doubt, if any step is taken to sack or victimize in any way members of NASU and their leaders for undertaking the ongoing strike, Nigerians within the University and outside will respond with solidarity protests and demonstrations until the injustice is reversed.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael Ogundele
National Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary