The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities on Monday picketed the Alabata campus of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, to protest alleged plan by the management to sack over 200 of its members.
Singing solidarity songs, the protesting SSANU members stormed the FUNAAB main gate as early as 7.00am and temporarily brought activities atthe institution to a halt. Their protest also caused a traffic snarl at the entrance to the university campus.
The protesting workers also accused the Academic Staff Union of Universities of the institution of allegedly writing a petition to the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquayat Rufai, to demand the sacking of over 200 non-academic members of staff.
However, the management of the institution has denied any plan to sack workers.
Also, FUNAAB ASUU chairman, Dr. Biodun Badmus, told our correspondenton the phone that it was not true that the union had demanded the sacking of any member of SSANU.
He said, “The letter we wrote has nothing to do with the demand for the sacking of any member of the university community. The letter is only talking about irregular appointments made by the former vice-chancellor.”
But the protesting workers, armed with placards with inscriptions such as ASUU wants war; ASUU wants to be Oga on Top; ASUU, stop this provocation; VC, stop pampering ASUU; We are not illegal staff; ASUU, enough is enough; VC, check ASUU’s excesses; and ASUU stop this wickedness!, blocked the institution’s main gate.
Some staff of the institution, including the Bursar, Mr. Moses Ilesanmi andRegistrar, Matthew Ayoola, who were caught unawares by the protest, were forced to alight from their vehicles by the gate and later allowed to walk into the campus.
The FUNAAB chapter of ASUU had, in a petition dated March 13, 2013, complained to Rufai about “irregular appointment” of staff by the former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olaiya Balogun. The union urged the minister to takean urgent action.
The letter, jointly signed by Badmus and Secretary, Dr. Bayo Oni, requested the minister to send, “a special visitation panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the illegal appointments of over 200 non-teaching staff into the university about three months to the end of the tenure of the former VC.
“The union is convinced that there were sharp practices involved in this case and the intervention of the minister would assist in sanitising the university system,” the letter stated.
But the SSANU branch Chairman, Abdul Salaam, in his address to the protesting members of the union warned that they would resist the “war of attrition” launched against the non-academic staff by ASUU.
Salaam accused ASUU and the management of FUNAAB of working together to deny SSANU members of their means of livelihood by pursuing an agenda that could lead to their loss of jobs.
“This letter is the third of its ilk written by ASUU in the last four months, inwhich ASUU, like hyenas, has been baying for the heads of our members. It appears to us that ASUU has embarked on a war of attrition against us, which we are duty-bound to resist.
By their letters, attempts are being made to deny our people of their livelihood and survival in the face of the existential realities in Nigeria, the unemployment challenges and difficulties of life and living in this country.
“We are going to ensure that management and ASUU respect non-teaching staff in this university. No union has the monopoly of power, no union has the monopoly of writing. This is not about PhD, throw PhD aside. It’s not because we are inferior, but as far as we are concerned, enough is enough,” the SSANU chairman said.
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