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Fresh Strike, ASUU Not Fair to Us’- Students


The general assertion that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers has once again re-echoed as most students, especially those in their final year, foresee a murky path to their participation in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC stressing that the strike action at this time is more harmful to interest of the students.

About 300 students of the Taraba State University Jalingo will be missing their participation in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC due to the strike action embarked upon by ASUU members in the institution.

A student leader who spoke to Taraba Truth and Facts newspaper said many 'spill over students' who were to be mobilized for this current batch NYSC were  not due to the strike action.

The Student leader who pleaded anonymity said over 300 graduating students fate who should be currently at NYSC orientation camps  were dashed.

  A 400-level student of the institution, whose original name has been changed to Agassi Landon to shield him from victimisation, told newsmen that many of her colleagues might miss the opportunity of serving the nation because they will be clocking 30 before graduating.  

Landon's fear stems from the fact that he would be clocking 30 this year and any further strike action by the lecturers might affect his chances of participating in the compulsory national service.

He said: "This resort to another round of strike by our lecturers is disturbing me sincerely.

"As you know we are still in the 2019/2020 session and just on Monday, we resumed for the second semester. Originally, if not for the pandemic, I was supposed to graduate in August 2020, but because of school closure and the national ASUU strike which our institution joined, we resumed in December. My projection, according to the new school calendar, is that by May this year, I would have graduated and still be eligible for NYSC but if this strike persist I will be above 30 when graduating and I won't be eligible for National Service, I have many people in my category and we are seriously disturbed with this. "I am appealing to authorities of the school and the lecturers to please call off the strike because people like me might be affected."

Other students are lamenting that the strike action embarked upon by their lecturers would further elongate duration of their studies, many of them said more than 16 academic months have been lost to strikes and Covid19 lockdown.

"We want the government and lecturers to always consider the students, our mates in other Universities are moving forward with their studies but for us TSU students, we are spending almost seven years for a four years programme. Last year, due to Covid 19, we spent most of the year at home, while our colleagues in other schools have resumed a fresh session, we are out of our classrooms.  

A 200-level student of the institution who spoke on condition of anonymity said she was unhappy with the development.

According to her: "For about two years now we have constantly had delays due to strikes and school closure because of the pandemic. I ought to have finished my part-two last year, but this is March 2021 and I am still in 200 level. I am pleading that they consider us because we are the ones to suffer this the most." While the students are pleading with their lecturers to consider them, the lecturers are also appealing to the students and their parents to understand them.

Another 200 level student said students would have supported the strike but they are fed up of staying at home.

"We are in agreement with the lecturers but we are not happy with the timing of their strike, we have spent enough time at home and we just want to return to our classrooms, our mates in other institutions are mocking us and advising us to go learn trade. You will wonder why our lecturers would join the national strike knowing fully well that they would still embark on the local strike. What is the benefit of the national strike to us? Now we are starting our own strike afresh after all those days wasted at home. It's totally not fair to we the students."     

WHY WE ARE ON STRIKE- ASUU CHAIRMAN

 The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Taraba State University chapter, has given reasons for embarking on an indefinite strike, stressing that they lack job security working as lecturers in the university.  

 Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting, the Institution's ASUU Chairman, Dr. Samuel Shikaa, said the association resolved to embark on the industrial action to demand compliance to an agreement the state government and the university management signed with the association.

He listed some of their demand to include, the commencement of their Contributory pension scheme, prompt payment of their Earned Academic Allowance, EAA, among others.

According to him, "Taraba state university has no pension arrangement and you can quote me anywhere.

"Families of some of our colleagues that have died only received paltry sum for burial rites which to us is not a terminal benefit. "And to some others who left this institution to other universities, they have nothing to benefit.

"Our members are ready to commence deduction from their take home for the contributory pension scheme but we also want government commitment that their percentage of the contribution would be honored.

"On EAA, the allowance for excess workload since 2013 has accumulated and has not been paid."

Shikaa, said the union sympathizes with the students, "It was because of this sympathy that our members allowed the students to write their first semester exams for some weeks.

"We have tried on our part to ensure that we maintain harmony as much as possible. All we are saying to the students is that they are part of us and we are part of them because there would be no students if there are no lecturers and vice versa. We want them to understand us and also pressurize their parents to speak out because it is ridiculous if their lecturers don't have job security."

 

 

We have addressed 75% of their demands, strike unnecessary – School Management

The Vice-Chancellor of Taraba state University, Prof. Vincent Tenebe said 75% of the demand by members of ASUU has been met.

 He explained that the ongoing strike was unnecessary and urged members of the union to call off their demonstration for the sake of the students, while they continue negotiation with the management of the institution.

 

 He also dismissed claims that the government was not ready to comply with its part payment to the contributory pension scheme. He said, "ever since the MoU and MoA were signed with ASUU the management and government went into action and I can tell you that 75% of their demand has been met.

 "ASUU has been demanding for the commencement of the contributory pension scheme and when I came in as Vice-Chancellor in 2017, they brought up this demand which was part of the MoA.

"I went further to present a memo to the governing council of this university in 2018, and the council acting as an independent body and regarded as the sole employer of labor in universities by government regulation approved that we can start that contributory pension scheme. "This means that every staff that keys into this pension scheme will contribute 7.5% of his basic salary while the government will also contribute 7.5% which would be sent to the administrator of a pension for saving till when the staff retires.

"After that approval, I informed all the members of staff of this university through a circular that the governing council has approved the commencement of the pension scheme and we went further to appoint a desk officer from the registry for the pension scheme.

"We also invited some pension administrators who came to sensitize and also did some marketing of their companies to staff for them to fill their forms and submit to the school management for the commencement of the pensions scheme.

"Since 2018, they have failed to produce their pension administrators and their account numbers for management to utilize. And in fact, this university wanted to be used as a role model for other institutions in this state that this is doable.

 "The ASUU of this university insisted that they will only patronize the pension scheme of ASUU at the national level and we have no problem with that.

 "They have failed to submit their pension administrators for this scheme to commence, and are now stating this as one of the reasons for their strike. "Also it is not true that the government has not been paying EAA. From 2014 to 2018 about N150 million have been paid.

"To reduce accumulated debt in EAA, I approached the governing council also in 2018 that they should allow earned allowances to be paid on monthly basis. "Since 2018, responsibility and hazard allowance is being paid with the salary of those that deserve it. "The only component that is not paid is the excess workload, which is supposed to be calculated at the end of the semester."

 

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