The Congress of University Academics (CONUA), a faction of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), says it has opened its branch at the University of Port Harcourt.
The groups South-South National Deputy Coordinator 1, Iyawe Hanson, announced this to journalists at a briefing in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
According to Mr Hanson, CONUA decided to open its branch in UNIPORT due to a lack of principles of justice, fairness, probity, and equity in its former body.
“Also, the loss of accountability, transparency, non adherence to constitutional provisions and erasure of the right of members to freely express their views led to the formation of CONUA.
“Academic unionism in the country has failed to evolve and provide the necessary academic leadership and rational thoughts needed to adapt in the 21st-century advances in global tertiary education,’’ he said.
Mr Hanson noted that “dictatorial leadership” in academic unionism had bred discontentment among members leading to calls for a veritable alternative.
He said CONUA had become the needed veritable alternative for all progressive minds in academic in the country.
“Consequently we are discarding militancy by embracing democratic tenets of approaching contending issues.
“We know that nothing has bedeviled the fortunes of the Nigerian students like the incessant truncations of academic calendar. A stable academic calendar is very important.
“To this end, the academic staff union of UNIPORT has decided to take the bull by the horn, by joining CONUA. Their decision is laudable and historic,” he said.
Mr Hanson called on tertiary institutions in the country to emulate UNIPORT and join the union to restore and develop the nation’s educational system.
Ovunda Ihunwo, the branch Chairman of CONUA in UNIPORT, said that academic staff in the university decided to join CONUA due to alleged lack of due process in the UNIPORT branch of ASUU.
He listed some of the reasons to include “illegal” suspension of Anthonia Okerengwo, a professor; illegal termination of the appointment of Frank Ugiomoh, also a professor, and the promotion of ethnic and regional disunity in the union, among others.
“So, we have resolved, that henceforth we are not going to allow few selfish individuals to further cause crises by truncating stability and current smooth running in UNIPORT.
“We shall cooperate with UNIPORT management and the university community on matters that are in the interest of students, staff members, and the enlightened public to stabilise the academic calendar.
“We declare that from today, we no longer belong to ASUU. So, we call on the Vice-Chancellor to ensure the immediate stoppage of all check-offs from our members’ salaries to ASUU,” he demanded.
Mr Ihunwo further called on the university management to conduct a forensic audit into the disbursement of the last two tranches of the Earned Academic Allowances paid to workers.
Protest over IPPIS
Meanwhile, some students of the university on Wednesday protested alleged threat by ASUU to go on strike over the government’s payroll system.
ASUU has rejected a Federal Government’s directive mandating academic workers to enrol into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) before Dec. 7.
The students in their numbers held a peaceful protest to reject ASUU’s alleged directive to withhold student’s second-semester results.
The students, who disrupted a meeting by ASUU in the university campus, held placards with the inscriptions: ASUU let our academic calendar stand; Say no to strike; Stop exploiting students, among others.
Sowari Daniel, President, Students’ Union Government (SUG) in UNIPORT, who led the protest at the campus in Port Harcourt, called for Federal Government intervention.
“The SUG rejects ASUU’s unpatriotic approach of inciting academics against government’s well-intended policies and UNIPORT management’s innovations to stabilise and revitalise the university’s system.
“ASUU’s threat of strike action is unpatriotic move in the face of current realities in UNIPORT, where all stakeholders are making efforts to revive the system.
“We learnt of ASUU’s meeting to move forward their plan to strike on Dec. 20. So, students took protest to their meeting to avert any strike by lecturers.
“There is no justification for the incessant strike actions in the University of Port Harcourt,” he said.
Mr Daniel said the student body was dismayed with ASUU’s directive to its members to withhold students’ second semester (2018/2019 session) results.
The SUG president claimed that the call by ASUU was an attempt to hold the university management to ransom and serve a cheap political point.
According to him, the alleged unpopular decisions taken by ASUU in UNIPORT recently led to the formation of a break-away faction, the Congress of University Academics (CONUA).
“To this end, the UNIPORT branch of SUG is giving its full support and loyalty of CONUA. We also urge management to give full support to CONUA.
“Consequently, the student’s union has ceased to recognise the gathering of any group of people in our university in the name of ASUU,” he said.
NAN reports that CONUA, a faction of ASUU, had on Tuesday opened its branch in UNIPORT with lecturers in their large numbers participating in the opening.