Nigeria: Strike Looms in Ebonyi Varsity As ASUU Meeting With Umahi Ends in Deadlock

19 January 2021

The Ebonyi varsity lecturers have not been paid their salaries for five months.

The national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday failed to resolve the disagreement between the Ebonyi State Government and the Ebonyi State University (EBSU) chapter of the union.

The ASUU delegation, led by its National Vice Chairman, Academics, Emmanuel Osodeke, was in the state to intervene in the dispute.

The delegation visited Governor Dave Umahi at Government House, Abakaliki.

After hours of a meeting, Mr Osodeke told reporters the meeting failed to resolve the dispute.

According to him, the delegation decided to meet with Mr Umahi, who is the visitor to the Institution, because the Governing board dissolved by the governor recently has not been reconstituted.

He said the governor, instead of focusing on the issues, decided to tackle the Chairman of Ebonyi State University (EBSU) chapter of ASUU, Ikechukwu Igwenyi.

"Minor issues of personality and persons became the major issue rather than the issues affecting EBSU and that was why the meeting ended on a deadlock.

"Instead of talking about EBSU, we are talking about the EBSU-ASUU chairman and calling him a boy and saying that he is abusing him (the visitor) and therefore he, the visitor, will not relate with the chairman anymore," he said.

Mr Osodeke said the delegation will meet with the lecturers on Wednesday before the union, at the national level, decides on what to do next.

"The threat against ASUU-EBSU Chairman was repeated again today by the governor that if anything happens here, he will be held responsible," he stated.

'Wrong information'

The Commissioner for Education in the state, Onyebuchi Chima, however, said the delegation came with "wrong information" on the situation.

He also debunked the delegation's allegation that the governor threatened Mr Igwenyi during the meeting.

"I am also a member of ASUU in my own university. I will only say that what happened today is a show of unpreparedness on the part of ASUU and on the part of those that came.

"The information the people that came were fed with were erroneous. Before they came, not even the Ministry of Education was aware of their coming, the SSA on higher education was not aware, not even the university.

"You don't go to the visitor first without first of all finding out what is the issue. They do not have information, their prior information is malicious.

"As far as I am concerned, the people that came were not prepared. Before you go to court, you must get your facts right and get your evidence correct. So, I am sure they will visit the university and get their facts right before coming to the visitor.

"There is no threat to anybody, I didn't see anybody that came out of the meeting without smiling. Anybody saying somebody is threatened lacks the capacity to negotiate," Mr Chima said.

Demands

The lecturers are demanding an improved welfare package for the staff of the institution, especially the payment of five months backlog of salaries.

With the deadlock, the lecturers, who just commenced lectures after the school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ASUU strike, may yet embark on strike.

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