The management of Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt, at the weekend gave indications of its willingness to engage the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the insbosomution in meaningful dialogue as a means of resolving their disagreements.

Speaking at the weekend in Port Harcourt, the insbosomution’s Deputy Registrar/Public Relations Officer, Mr Desmond Wosu was reported to have saidthat the management of the university was now prepared to dialogue with ASUUand other unions to restore peace and normalcy to the insbosomution.

However,The Tide investigations last week revealed that
uneasy calm and uncertainty once again enveloped the RSUST, Port Harcourt, following the strike action declared by ASUU in protest against the re-appointment of Prof Barineme Fakae as the acting Vice Chancellor of the university.

It would be recalled that the university’s ASUU had given the state Governor and visitor to the university, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi a one-week ultimatum to reverse the re-appointment of Prof Fakae or face industrial action.

It was crystal clear last week when The Tide visited the university that ASUU had made good its threat to embark on strike at the expiration of the ultimatum,penultimate Wednesday, as there was no indication that all was well with the state-owned university.

Indeed, an atmosphere of uncertainty, confusion and
apprehension hovered over the campus, as distraught students idled away.

While some gathered in groups particularly around the
Faculty of Engineering block, speaking in hush tones, others milled around hopelessly.
There was nothing to suggest that teaching and learning or other meaningful activities were going on at the university.

Several persons, suspected to be non-academic staff, were also seen gathering around the Amphitheatre block, including stern-looking security men, who were patrolling the area Opposite the block, two SOS vans were also strategically positioned, facing the road.

The entrance of the Senior Staff Club was firmly locked, as some security men were seen taking position within the premises of the club.

The club, which used to be a beehive of activities was
deserted, as senior lecturers of the university and other guests who used to cool-off there after the day’s work, were nowhere to be seen.

Three lecturers who were seen directly opposite the club, were , however, visibly agitated.
They lamented that an incident had taken place at the venue where members ofASUU were holding a meeting last Wednesday, to apparently review strategies of the strike.

They alleged that an unidentified young man in black attires had invaded the venue of the meeting, and disrupted it in full glare of securitymen who had positioned themselves inside the hall to monitor proceedings as the ASUU meeting progressed.

Suspecting foul play, some ASUU members were said to have whisked away theChairman of the union, Dr Felix Igwe for fear of his life. The Tide, however, could not confirm immediately reports and insinuations that Dr Igwe was brutalised and was being hospitalised as a result.

However, the Deputy Registrar (Public Relations) of the
university, Mr Desmond Wosu told The Tide in an exclusive interview in his office that ASUU had not notified the management of its intention to proceed on strike.

While attributing the lull currently experienced in the
university to dangerous and unfounded rumours making the rounds concerning the strike, he said the re-appointment of Prof Fakae, whom he said, had performed creditably in office, was not enough to degenerate to industrial action.
Wosu also noted that Governor Amaechi did not make a mistake by re-appointing Prof Fakae, saying, the re-appointment was the best thing that had happened to the university.

According to him, Prof Fakae’s reappointment was done in good faith, followinghis track record of achievements for the university since 2007 when he a. ssumed office.

He listed the achievements to include the eradication of cultism in the university, the introduction of e-learning system, which he said, had placed the university on high pedestal, the full accreditation of the university’s programmes by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the improved ranking of the university from 76th to 19th position.

He also indicated that the Fakae-led administration had ensured that admissioninto the university was based on the carrying capacity prescribed by NUC, to the extent that cla. ssrooms and lecture rooms were no longer over-populated while lecturers no longer complained of having too manyscripts to mark, coupled with the fact that the university’s science laboratories and workshops were now well-equipped.

The university’s image maker further noted that Prof Fakae’s re-appointment would put the university in a better stead, as his administration would ensure continuous, rapid transformation of the university.

‘Members of the university community should give peace a chance. ASUU should adopt dialogue so that we can move the university forward.

Enough is enough. Let us not drive our students to the streets again. It does notaugur well for us , it does not augur well for parents. It is not good for our children. Let us support the management to move the university forward”, he pleaded.
He also defended the VC’s administrative style, and sued for peace, tolerance and dialogue.

However, a member of the Senior Staff a. ssociation of
Nigerian Universities (SSANU) who was visibly disturbed by the current state ofaffairs at the university, while speaking to The Tide under condition of anonymity, advised the Vice Chancellor to step aside in the interest of peace, and not allow the university to be consumed by selfish interest.


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