FG using divide and rule tactics in honoring agreements – SSANU/NASU

By Samuel Luka, Bauchi

The 7-day warning strike embarked upon by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee is taking its tall on the academic activities of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi.

Speaking to newsmen on Tuesday, the Joint Action Committee chairman of the university, Sulisma Jatau accused the Federal Government of using the divide and rule tactics in honoring agreements reached previously.

The JAC Chairman who reminded the federal government that they shouldn’t be treated like slaves, pointed out that the withdrawal of their services has brought academic activities in the university to a standstill.

“We are saying that nobody is a slave here. In JAC, we are not slaves, we are very, very important in the university system, infact, we are the entry point in the university system, without us nothing can happen”, he said.

“Now you can see that nothing is happening – no computer, no electricity, no water, no medical center, no network for browsing, nothing is working. We are a very important organ of the university and that is what we want to tell the whole world”, he emphasized.

Jatau who said they didn’t want to disrupt their examinations, however stated that the exercise cannot be completed without the contribution of his members because they used to monitor the examinations and many other roles to ensure its success.

According to him, writing examination while they are on strike is going to be porous, adding that they didn’t want to interfere with the exams.

“But I want to tell you that it will not be a full examination that will be taking place because without us, it cannot function well,” he stated.

Jatau said that the warning strike became necessary because the federal government failed to act on the 14 days ultimatum the JAC gave it to meet their demands or face industrial action.

“The only language the government understands is strike and that was why we decided to embark on it”, he said.

Jatau who declared the strike as 100 percent compliant, recalled that in 2009, they entered into an agreement with the Federal Government which was freely signed but about 15 years later, the agreements are yet to be honoured.

He said there was no bases for the federal government to renege from honoring the agreements since it was freely entered, without any body forcing it on them.

The JAC chairman who acknowledged that some of the agreements were honoured, while many have not been respected, explained that some of such agreements are payment of their earned allowances, constitution of visitation panels, university governing councils and salary increase.

“So, we pressed home our demands two years ago and they ended up enforcing a no-work-no-pay on us which ended up in us staying for six months without salaries. After signing a document with the Federal Government by the then Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, but up to now, this agreement has not yet been implemented’, JAC regretted.

According to JAC, when President Bola Tinubu took over the leadership of the country, he gave an order, a waiver for them to be paid four months out of the six that their salaries were withheld.

The JAC regretted that when the FG decided to pay, it only paid ASUU, living other three university based associations stranded.

Jatau said despite engaging the then minister of education, Mal Adamu Adamu on the matter, the promise he made that they would be paid within one week wasn’t fulfilled four weeks after.

“So, we are saying that what is good for the goose is also good for that gander. We went on the same strike and they selected one union and paid them which we feel is a divide and rule tactics by the Federal Government”, he declared.

On earlier appeal on JAC by the university management to open at least one gate, Jatau insisted that “there is not going to be any compromise, no consensus, the strike is total and indefinite.”

Our Correspondent gathered that at the Yelwa Campus of the university the two gates leading to the premises were under lock and keyed and with leaves placed on the gates to prevent entry or exit.

Cars and motorcycles were seen parked outside the gate as they were not allowed to go into the school or out from the premises of the university because members of the two unions who were in ground to enforce compliance.

However, the small gate was open to staff and students to go in or out on foot, as many of them were seen trekking into and out of the school.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sarki Fagam who arrived at the gate, appealed to the members of the unions to open one of the gates to allow for free flow of vehicular movements.

He said that although their actions were legal and a national directive, it was imperative for the management to appeal to them to shift grounds a bit in view of the fact that students were currently writing examinations.

“The reason we are here is because we are members of this university and we benefited from this organization and our children are there writing examinations. They have no light, they have no water and access to the University is also blocked, we all acknowledge that.

“We discussed with the leadership of your unions yesterday, they said they’re going to meet with you (the members). We did not hear anything from them, maybe you refused to tell them to go back to us. That was why we came here to see you.

“We want to beg you to, please open just one gate and leave the other one closed, so that human and vehicular traffic can flow and do not allow any of your members to enter so that you can have a total strike,” he appealed.

Fagam commended the unions for their conduct saying that “I am happy with your attitude and conduct that none of you interrupted the examinations going on”.

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