Crisis in UniAbuja as ASUU faction declares indefinite strike



The University of Abuja branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared an indefinite strike in the school.

 

The union announced its decision on Thursday during a congress held at the permanent site of the institution.

 

Sylvanus Ugoh, chair of UniAbuja ASUU, told TheCable that the strike remains effective “until all the issues in contention are resolved”.

 

Abubakar Kari, UniAbuja student affairs dean and ex-convener of ASUU’s national political committee, said the varsity’s branch of the union issued a communique declaring “total and indefinite strike” over a lingering disagreement with the UniAbuja management.

 

The dispute, he said, borders on four issues including ASUU’s interest in a multi-stakeholder microfinance bank, promotion procedures in the absence of a governing council, election for faculty deanship, and alleged illegal appointments.

 

“A congress has been convened and we will address all the lingering issues. The individuals who declared the strike did it in a haphazard way,” he said.

 

“They simply snuck out a letter without allowing for any deliberation. The university community was shocked.

 

“The leadership of ASUU forwarded a request to be allowed to embark on a strike for reasons that they stated. They sent a team that spent a week in UniAbuja and held a congress that roundly rejected the idea of a strike if the branch is being truthful with the press.

 

“It was a surprise when they suddenly came reading what they called a letter from ‘national’.

 

“As the days go by, we will see how it all unfolds. But the reality is that a faction of the ASUU branch declared strike while the others stated that they are not part of it.”

 

CONTROVERSIAL BANKING VENTURE

In 2023, the UniAbuja management established a microfinance bank to cater to the university community and graduate entrepreneurs.

 

Interest groups bought into the venture, including ASUU which was said to have staked N4 million and got a representative on the bank’s board of directors.

 

Kari said ASUU’s representative on the board would later convey that the union had withdrawn its backing for the project.

 

ASUU’s move reportedly stalled the business after staff members for the bank and a director had been appointed.

 

Kari said the management ejected ASUU from the board and refunded the union’s money — a decision that was later rescinded after negotiations.

 

“It was a surprise when they started causing commotion again over an issue that had been resolved,” the ASUU ex-convener added.

 

PROMOTIONS, ‘ILLEGAL APPOINMENTS’

 

In 2023, the National Universities Commission (NUC) dissolved the governing councils of federal universities following a presidential directive.

 

This has stalled decision-making and caused these institutions to seek federal approval for functions usually sanctioned by the councils.

 

Kari said many slots for deanship across UniAbuja’s faculties became vacant and needed the council to oversee elections into them.

 

 “The vice-chancellor (VC) released a timetable for the election last month and about four of the faculties have already elected their deans. The faculty of communications did theirs yesterday. But ASUU says it is dissatisfied with the process. And we followed the law,” he stated.

 

“They singled out UniAbuja and rejected the idea of promotions being done without council oversight. Since the dissolution of the council, the minister of education caused a letter to be sent to universities.

 

“It required that any function meant for the councils should be directed to him for approval. Because of that, so many decisions were made, including the promotion of the branch chairman, vice-chairman, and secretary of ASUU in UniAbuja.

 

“The branch chair was made an associate professor. The vice-chair and secretary were made professors through ministerial appointment. These happened in January but they all came back to claim the promotions generally were not done in order.”

 

Kari said UniAbuja created the faculties of pharmacy, communications, environmental sciences, and nursing & allied sciences, two years ago.

 

The VC obtained approval from head of service, a waiver from the federal character commission, and factored it into the budget, he added.

 

“All those who were recruited were recommended by departments and faculties, yet ASUU raised issues with the procedure. If there is any blame to go round, ASUU should be blaming the government for not reconstituting the councils.

 

“These people have other motives but are only listing these four out of mischief.”

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