OAU workers protest, accuse management of corruption

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) was closed down by the Osun State Internal Revenue Service over tax debt
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) was closed down by the Osun State Internal Revenue Service over tax debt

Members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) at the Obafemi Awolowo University, on Monday, staged a protest against the non-payment of allowances and other ‘irregularities’.

The unions left their offices for freedom park, a spot situated in front of the university Senate building, to make their demands.

This grounded academic activities in some departments, particularly those whose courses were linked to practicals in the laboratory.

Grouse

Protesters said they wanted to draw the attention of the public to the “injustice of the management against students and staff of the institution and to request for the full implementation of a 2004 agreement with the school management.”

The OAU SSANU branch chairman, Oketunde Ademola, stated that the action is meant to show the non-teaching staff’s displeasure toward the injustice.

He noted that the civil disobedience was meant to reject the “illegal deduction of 7.5 per cent of staff salary” and to request for full implementation of the “earned allowance” agreement that was reached in 2004.

“We are in this struggle because there is fraud and we are protesting against it. We have complained to the federal government. We have written to the EFCC, nothing has been done. We have also written to the director of State Security Service (SSS), nothing has been done. We have written to many agencies,” he said.

“It is even beyond the issue of earned allowance. If they implement earned allowance today, we want (the) government to set up a very powerful panel to investigate OAU,” Mr Oketunde said.

The OAU NASU chairman, Wole Odewunmi, noted that despite the approval of the earned allowance by the school governing council, “there has not been full implementation.”

He said that only the parts of the agreement which relate to the university’s ‘big officers’ were being implemented, and that “the parts which deal with the generality of staff, such as Hazard allowance, have never been implemented.”

He noted that the issue had once been raised in 2015 “which led to chaos”. He said the non-teaching unions were sued to court then.

“The body has deemed it fit to re-raise the issue as it realised that the university employed over 140 staff in December, 2018, unknown to the federal government, without following due process and despite the fact that salaries of new staff can only be paid after two to three months succeeding employment. The new staff salaries payment has continued unabated since December which disproves the management’s claim that there is no fund.

“There are lots of things they have been doing, which we have been enduring. But following this struggle that has been started, we’ll start inviting the press to raise other ones. Our argument is that there is enough fund to ensure the implementation of the agreement, they shouldn’t say there is no fund,” he said.

Fruitless Meeting?

NASU secretary earlier informed this reporter that a meeting with the agenda of salvaging the situation was fixed with the school management for 4 p.m. on Monday.

Meanwhile, in a telephone interview, Monday night, the SSANU chairman explained that the outcome of the meeting with the university management “was not favourable.” He said the protest will continue on Tuesday.

“The meeting was not that favourable. The management was unable to meet our demands. The struggle will still continue tomorrow because we have to report to the Congress. So, I don’t see us resuming tomorrow,” he said.

The school’s Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olanrewaju, was also contacted by for the school’s reaction.

He said, “it’s an affair I would not want to discuss on the pages of the newspaper. It’s a family affair, we’ll sort it out.”

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