Strike: OAU management says lectures continue, as ‘lecturers approve fresh EAA payment template’

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife

The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, has allayed the fears of its students and parents over the ongoing strike by the institution’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), saying academic activities are going on uninterrupted on the campus.

A statement by the university’s public relations officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, said “the majority of academic staff are not on strike and are ready to work”.

He also said lecturers, “have agreed on a new acceptable template that will be developed for the sharing of the controversial earned academic allowance.”

The statement, which was titled; “Strike Action: Lectures Still Ongoing in OAU, No Cause for Alarm,” reads in part; “The attention of the management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, has been drawn to a circular issued by a section of the academic staff, ASUU, calling on its members to go on strike, beginning from Monday, 31st January, 2022.

“The University Management is using this medium to inform the general public, particularly our students, their parents or guardians, that the overwhelming majority of the academic staff in OAU are not on strike, neither do they have the intention of going on any strike action. In actual fact, lectures are ongoing and students are being attended to by lecturers in their respective departments.”

The university’s vice-chancellor, Eyitope Ogunbodede, had on Monday told PREMIUM TIMES that the membership strength of ASUU and that of its rival faction- Congress of Nigerian Universities’ Academics (CONUA) is almost equal, adding “We now have something like (a) 50:50 kind of membership in OAU.”

Meanwhile, rising from its meeting with the academic staff on Tuesday, the university said the consensus of those in attendance was that a new acceptable template will be developed for the sharing of the controversial earned academic allowance.

Mr Olarewaju told this newspaper that not less than 400 academic staffers of the university attended the meeting called by the vice-chancellor on Monday.

He said those in attendance “unanimously agreed that the university administration should set up a committee that will review the submitted forms and come up with a new model that will be acceptable to every other academic staff.”

“They agreed that the forms should be ready and filled and the money paid latest by Friday or next week,” Mr Olarewaju said in a voice note shared with PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter on Tuesday afternoon.

But when asked if ASUU will subscribe to the new arrangement by the university and possibly suspend its ongoing strike, the chairman of the union on the campus, Adeola Egbedokun, said he has not heard from the university of such an arrangement.

Also asked for clarifications on the discrepancies allegedly identified by the university’s audit department in the forms collated and submitted by his union, Mr Egbedokun said it never received an official communication to that effect from the university.

“What we submitted to the vice chancellor was an official document and we are also expecting that he should communicate to us officially. I am hearing what you are saying for the first time,” Mr Egbedokun said in an interview on Tuesday.

In its bulletin dedicated to give updates on the ongoing strike and which was issued on Tuesday, ASUU said it submitted all required documents for the verification, yet “the VC refused to disburse our EAA.”

ASUU said it is left with no other option than “the present action and our members should be rest assured that we shall not succumb to blackmail.”

The University vice-chancellor had, hours after the declaration of strike by ASUU, called for a meeting with all academic staff, irrespective of union affiliation. But ASUU directed its members to boycott the meeting, describing the vice-chancellor’s move as treacherous.

The agenda of the meeting, according to a statement from the vice-chancellor’s office, was the earned academic allowance, which the government had deposited to the school’s coffers since December 13.

The delayed disbursement has been due to the failure of ASUU and CONUA to arrive at a consensus on the sharing modalities.

While ASUU had declared a strike over the non-payment of the funds on Monday, CONUA said its members are not on strike. (PREMIUM TIMES)