PLATEAU, Nigeria – Barely a week after the Plateau State University Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), embarked on an indefinite strike, Governor Simon Lalong constituted a 7-Man Committee to look into the welfare of staff of the University.
Recall that the Plateau State branch of ASUU had last Friday declared an indefinite strike.
The Union said it was embarking on the strike because of seven issues, despite several calls on the state government to resolve them.
Dr Bentse Pamson, who is the institution’s ASUU Branch chairperson said that the decision by their members to embark on the strike was reached during their congress last Friday.
Pamson said, “We just held our congress yesterday, where our members unanimously agreed to proceed on strike immediately.
According to him, “We have already secured the approval of NEC to embark on local strike action at Plateau State University if the state government fails to meet our demands.”
While giving reasons for the strike, the Branch chairperson said, “We have a total of seven unresolved issues which we have been calling the attention of the state government to.
“For instance, If you come to the University, you will not discover any capital project being funded by the state government except the ones being undertaken under TetFund. This is totally strange and unacceptable”, he lamented.
“Not only that, the state government has refused to reconstitute a new governing council after the tenure of the last officials expired leaving the University without direction.
“There is also the issue of unpaid earned academic allowance spreading up to eight academic sessions totalling about N215 million leaving our members to suffer.
“We also have the problem of underfunding of the institution with the monthly subvention of about N90m which is grossly inadequate as against about N200 million needed monthly by the University to run it effectively.
“Apart from that, we have a situation where there is no special fund set aside for training and development of the academic staff of the institution to augment their efforts and those who wish to partner with the intention.
“Besides, the University environment has been turned to grazing land thereby constituting a serious security threat to the staff and students mainly because the institution is not fenced.
“We have had instances where hoodlums break into the hostels and rape the students and subjected the lecturers to all forms of harassment.
Recall that on Sunday 9th June, 2019, suspected herdsmen invaded one of the female hostels and raped a female student and was left unconscious.
Also in an attempt to intervene by security operatives, a 100 level student of the Geography Department, Mr. Ugu Sheni Kimati was killed.
The ASUU chairperson maintained that the aforementioned issues are what some members of the Union have endured, adding that, it cannot continue like that without anything being done to address them.
“With the way education has been relegated to the background, a strike is the only option to draw the attention of the government to live up to its responsibilities”, he stressed.
However, according to an approval conveyed by the Secretary to the Plateau State Government Prof. Danladi Atu, “The 7-man committee is to address issues recently raised by the local chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and also look into other union issues.
Atu maintained that the committee’s report which is expected to be submitted in three weeks, “will facilitate the resolution of some of the issues raised by ASUU Chapter of the University which they gave as reasons for embarking on strike”.
Recall that during the Governor’s recent visit, the student union leaders and other staff of the University prevailed on him to intervene and ensure that academic activities resume.
Meantime, members of the Committee include the State Head of Service, Mr. Izam A. Azi, as Chairman and Mr. Isaac Maran, Permanent Secretary, Establishment, Office of the Head of Service as Secretary.
Other members of the committee are; Professor Yohana Daniel Izam, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Mr. Lawrence Kerekum Longsen, Bursar of the University, the Commissioner of Higher Education, Hon. Kak’mena Goteng Audu, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor John W. Wade and Hon. Ezekiel Pabuet, ALGON Chairman, Plateau State chapter.