For the past three months, we were being pushed, pressed, oppressed and persecuted. We have prevailed to absorb all in our stride, hoping that the voice of reason, sanity and legalism will prevail across the strata of our tormentors.
Many have wondered and even castigated us for not hitting the court long ago. We offer you some of the principles of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU): we act, not react; we always explore every amicable means of resolution.
The government of Kogi State, the governing council and the administration of Kogi State University, Anyigba, have taken steps that violates our fundamental human right and flouted the rules and regulations governing our contractual intercourse with the university.
We thought it is common knowledge that proscription of a trade Union is beyond the jurisprudence of an executive governor. We have given time for this error to be corrected.
The NLC made an attempt to wade into the matter, highlighting its illegality, but it was rebuffed. Twice we were in the office of the Minister for Labour in his bid for conciliation but the government of Kogi State never showed up.
ASUU has made a request to have audience with his Excellency the Governor of Kogi State in a bid to find a common ground for reconciliation. This was equally snubbed.
It must be noted that while ASUU was in a protracted strike of seven months, no move was ever made by the government of Kogi State or the governing council to reach a common ground. It was always either injunction or instruction to resume work without any pragmatic steps to resolve the issues at stake.
To us, this does not portray responsible leadership. The workers are the forces behind the wheel of progress the world over. A correct relationship should be developed between the employees and employers as the labour unions seek the welfare of their members.
A call for dialogue and open mindedness usually solve the problems. Progress is neither what is read in the papers, watched on the television nor the billboard advertisement.
It will no longer be expressed as disappointing how academics in administrative positions transpose into monsters and demons or the professional sycophants who know so well how to shout ‘hosanna’ today and ‘crucify’ him tomorrow or vice versa.
It becomes a challenge for the Union to tame the rank and file of them that will ascend to positions of responsibility to remain who they are and show the leadership quality that is needed in administrative positions and governance to deliver Nigeria from the ‘one step forward, two steps backward’ syndrome.
Nobody who has ascended to the position of a professor should be an ignoramus about the ethics, practices and norms within the university system. To consent to turning the Ivory Tower into political arena is a misnomer which ASUU frowns at, stands against and will continue to resist.
Gentlemen of the press, finally ASUU has gone to court to seek for address and redress of the contentious issues to wit: the proscription of ASUU KSU and the termination of the appointment of one hundred and twenty academic staff members of Kogi State University, Anyigba.
It is both pathetic and unfortunate that taking a cursory look at the list of the purportedly sacked lecturers, identifying the courses they teach, the reallocation of such courses and identifying those who are assigned to teach those courses, it is crystal clear that the one ready to kill has met the one ready to die while not knowing that there is no one to bury. Stench!!
KSU has degenerated almost beyond the pre- 2005 era. Un-ethical practices are done with imminent colossal damage in an effort to create the impression that all is well within the system. Unqualified persons (Technologists, members of the National Youth Service Corps and other non-teaching staff) are being co-opted to teach courses and supervise student projects.
In several departments, postgraduate programmes have folded up, and where there seems to exist, they are being handled by unqualified persons. In some departments, a number of Ph.D and Masters Students did their external defense without the knowledge of their major supervisors.
In some departments also, completed undergraduate projects hitherto supervised by the purportedly sacked lecturers were re-assigned and graded by lecturers who never took part in the supervision. In some instances, the names of the original supervisors were fraudulently removed and replaced with those who were not part of the supervision process. These are clear cases of plagiarism.
Allegations abound that fraudulent activities like sales of lecture materials are rife as a result of the current situation in the University. In some cases, some ‘lecturers’ reportedly instruct students to browse and download lecture materials without teaching in readiness for their end of semester examinations.
There are so many courses still left untaught, and this cuts across almost all the departments with far reaching implications on the quality of the University degrees.
Pitiable are the current states of our colleagues who decided to fall into irrelevance in our struggle to build the KSU of our dream at this point in time.
Of course, this is apart from the demons, monsters and sycophants who are manipulating them for their selfish goals.
Late Professor Francis Sulemanu Idachaba of blessed memory remain the hero and mentor of 120 men and women who stand to be counted for integrity and the building of a citadel of learning (KSU, Anyigba) for which Idachaba lived and died that is, a ‘centre of excellence, second to none ‘.
He went ahead to lay a record of getting 29 courses accredited in 29 months.
Gentlemen of the press, please do some journalism. In how many cases have you seen up to 120 people defying the threat to their daily bread in order to stand for what they believe in?
Several of those who fell back will confess to you how their parents, in-laws, imams and pastors put irresistible pressures on them. Now, several of them are loaded to the extent that some teach between eight to ten courses with obvious implications on contact hours and productivity.
Currently, there exists a situation where a lecturer supervises from forty (40) to fifty (50) undergraduate projects. Some of them are assigned courses they are not qualified to teach. They are yet being owed salaries ranging from 3 to 27 months.
For a whole year, only one month of incremental step was paid. The instalmental payment of the arrears of EAA has gone into ten months now but only two has been paid to some. The waiver for tax which has been granted by the government has not been effected.
Instead, a new, stiffer tax regime has been imposed. Security challenges remain unabated. Our members are faced with being killed without recourse to justice, harassed, maimed or kidnapped.
Three things deter progress: distraction, diversion and division and when men cannot control you, they label you as being stubborn. The quiet resolve of 120 men and women of integrity is capable of doing the job – to build the KSU of our dream.
Nothing can stop the quiet resolve of a people united. The building of KSU as a centre of excellence, second to none is a task that must be done.
It is noteworthy gentlemen of the press that the composition of the standing heroes and heroines cut across ethnic and religious boundaries.
They that seek to pervert the path of justice shall be struck with the sword that pierces without mercy.
ALUTA CONTINUA, VICTORIA ACERTA!!