UNIZIK students, ASUU protest over poor working conditions

UNIZIK students, ASUU protest over poor working conditions

…the protesters carried placards of various inscriptions such as “Our working conditions must improve or you kill the Nigerian University

The Students Union Government (SUG) of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka on Thursday staged a peaceful protest with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the institution over poor working conditions and welfare of the lectures.

The protest attracted hundreds of staff and students of the university who expressed disatisfaction with the state of public universities occasioned by protracted federal government’s negligence.

The protesters carried placards of various inscriptions such as “Our working conditions must improve or you kill the Nigerian University”, “No to commercialisation of Nigerian public universities”, “Shame on destroyers of Nigerian public universities”, “Stop casualisation of Nigerian academics”, “Nigerian professor’s salary is less than 500 dollars”, “Government’s deliberate destruction of Nigerian Public Universities must stop”, among others.

Speaking during the protest, ASUU-NAU Chairperson, Comrade Stephen Ufoaroh, said the protest targeted at prorated October salaries, withheld arrears of salaries of ASUU members and failure of FGN to implement agreements it willingly entered with ASUU, which, he said, led to the just suspended 8-months strike.

He said, “We are here to press further the demands of members of ASUU so that the Federal Government can implement our agreement reached in 2020 which include implementation of renegotiated agreement, deployment of UTAS, improved funding for public universities, visitation panel and presentation of the white paper, control of the proliferation of public universities, and so on”.

Lamenting non-payment of arrears of the academic staff, Ufoaro urged Federal Government to urgently release the lectures’ arrears, assuring that all academic programme lost during the strike would be duly covered. 

“It’s worrisome that as we speak, the Federal Government has not done anything positive to assuage the plight of University lecturers,” he decried.

Reacting, Vice-chancellor of the institution, Prof. Charles Esimone praised the lecturers for living up to expectations despite Federal Government’s neglect, assuring them that of management’s continued support to their cause. 

He said, “Nigeria intellectuals are the best and have distinguished themselves all over the world. Unfortunately, the intellectuals are neglected and treated unfairly. My heart is bleeding. How can a professor be earning less than 500 USD? 

“This is preposterous and embarrassing especially after diligently discharging their tripartite functions of teaching, research and community service.”

“We as a management will continue to prevail on the government to do the needful because the demands of ASUU are legitimate and just. Also, they should be paid the backlog of their salaries because a worker deserves his wages.”

Speaking on behalf of the students, SUG President, Comrade Charles Ijeomah flayed Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen. Chris Ngige for working against the university lecturers, reminding him that lecturers were once his teachers.

“The federal government should sit up and do the needful. They should give lecturers their just demands and treat their welfare as sacrosanct because treating them poorly will indirectly affect students.

“On behalf of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), especially the South East zone, we want to assure our lecturers of our solidarity with them. We will not relent in sharing your pains and agony,” he posited.

Earlier before the protest, Comrades Chioma Evangeline and Amaka Udogu of Department of Modern and European Language, Comrade Ngozi Ulogu of Linguistic department, Comrade Chioma Ikebudu of Sociology and Anthropology and Comrade Uzodinma Okafor, lamented the sorry-state of lecturers’ welfare and how it affected their careers at different stages, calling on Federal Government to make good its promises.

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