…Before we embark on any strike, we meet with some stakeholders, including the students so as to carry them along. But unfortunately, today’s students have turned themselves to be tools of government.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU Owerri Zone has threatened to embark on another industrial action over federal government renege on the Memorandum of Action (MOA) signed with the union in December last year.
It accused federal government of breaching most of the timelines on the MOA, including payment of N30billion since January as part of one trench of the N220 billion which it alleged had been sitting in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Briefing reporters on Thursday in Awka, Zonal Coordinator, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, said it was unfortunate the union would contemplate another strike barely nine months it suspended the last one, but said it was the only option at its disposal.
He said, “It’s obvious that no matter the political party in power, the federal government is after its personal interest and relegate to the background those of the people who it claim power belong to.
“You’ll recall that we’ve hearkened to the cries of students and parents on several occasions to suspend strike and give government a chance, just as we did nine months ago. But soon after, the government will go back to sleep.
“We’ll start writing letters upon letters, approaching various individuals, including Chief of Staff to the President, to assist us talk to the government, but not without press conferences after each of our meetings.
“Yet, anytime they call us to a meeting, they only thread arguments among themselves, including the Labour Minister, separating himself from some accusations our union levelled against him, claiming he’s not our employer.
“We’ve tried to look for other alternative avenues to attract the government attention, but all appears meaningless to them. It’s obvious that it’s only when we embark on strike that they will look our way.
“Until the government realizes that this vicious circle does nobody any good and arises to its responsibility, we have no option but to drop our tools.”
Onyebinama further expressed disappointment over students disposition to assisting in championing the course, accusing them of allowing themselves to be used as tools in the hands of politicians.
He added, “Before we embark on any strike, we meet with some stakeholders, including the students so as to carry them along. But unfortunately, today’s students have turned themselves to be tools of government. They’ve become politicians themselves, including giving awards to public office holders, and collecting money in return.
“Their members dues are embezzled by some of the students union governments. Some collect money from government to write inciting reports against their lecturers. You see many of them riding cars that even their lecturers can’t afford. You see the NANS president using the office of the presidency as his plate number.
“Before now, academic staff were not fighting the course of the students, we were fighting our courses ourselves. Today, I doubt any students leadership that can call out their members to the streets for protests, unless on the favor of the authorities. That’s our challenge.
“We’ve gone ahead to set up students-labour relations committee to among other things reorient and reform the mindsets of the present generation of students. For them, the ends justify the means.”
On whether they were consider dragging the federal government to court, the ASUU boss simply said, “that’s not a good path to thread because the same government controls the apparatus of the judiciary.”
The Zone is made up of branches in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Imo State University, Federal University of Agriculture Umudike, Federal University of Technology Owerri, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam.