Students of Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU), have been stopped from entering the two campuses of the institution at Obio akpa in Oruk Anam and Ikot Akpaden in Mkpat Enin local government areas of the state.
Students have remained at home for over a month now as a result of the strike action embarked on by the staff of the institution.
The Registrar of the institution, Mr John Udo, had issued a press release mandating all staff to return to their duty posts today, Monday, June 7, 2021, noting that salaries will be paid on a “no work, no pay” basis.
“The Vice-Chancellor has directed all staff members of Akwa Ibom State University to return to their duty posts by Monday, June 07, 2021, and that payment of salaries from the month of June 2021 will be based on “no work no pay” Government policy.
“The Vice-Chancellor has appealed to all members of staff to comply accordingly,” the release said.
Following the release, students reported back to the two campuses but they were sent back at the gate by the Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated institutions (NASU), and National Association of Academic Technologist (NAAT).
It was gathered that at the main campus in Ikot Akpaden, lecturers under the auspices of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), positioned themselves at the entrance of the gate to bar students from entering the premises.
Some students were allegedly beaten and not allowed to enter the school premises.
Some of them at Obio akpa campus lamented that they did not finish their second semester’s examination when the lecturers embarked on the strike.
One of them who preferred to remain unnamed for fear of victimisation said, “I just came to school this morning because of the announcement that we should resume today, but the whole environment is dry.
“When I arrived at the school gate, I met some lecturers and they told me that I should go home because they are not returning to the classroom until they are paid.
“The Vice-Chancellor just ordered the lecturers to commence academic activities but they are saying no salary, no work.
“But our concern is that thieves have started breaking into students rented rooms off-campus, and stealing students’ things.
“It is a serious situation. Some students locked their rooms and travelled because of the strike because we don’t have hostel accommodation here,” she stated.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) chapter of the institution had embarked on strike towards the end of April to protest the payment of 75 per cent of their salaries for 10 months.
In response to the issue, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, had in a recent media interactive session in the state said he releases N329 million every month to the management of the institution.
But the ASUU Chairman, Dr Ime Okop, said its members would remain on strike as long as they do not receive payment alerts of their salaries and other entitlements, adding that the lecturers were not prepared to shift grounds on the matter.
Okop frowned at the situation where both the state government and the management of the university were playing pranks with the issue of education.
“What the governor went on air to say is not what we will contest, it is left for the management to explain.
“What we know is that the university has been receiving the sum of N250 million as monthly subvention as at 2019.
“So, if the state government has increased it to N329 million, it is left for the management to explain, and let us know when the amount was increased.
“We are asking for our salaries to be paid in full and other allowances. We have been receiving half salaries, percentage salaries, and you cannot tell which month you were paid or not.
“That they sent security men to forcefully open the gate would not solve the problem. Now that they have succeeded in opening the gate, would they also force us to resume lectures?,” he queried.
‘We will resume’
It would be recalled that the Vice-Chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University, Prof. Nse Essien, had assured the State House of Assembly that the institution was going to resume academic activities.
Appearing before the house, Prof Essien said, “We are on top of the matter and we are having series of meetings with various stakeholders to make sure that students and lecturers return to classrooms by next week.”
However, findings revealed that as of Monday, May 24, when salaries were paid, the lecturers only received half salaries.
On January 4, the Akwa Ibom State Government, management and the unions in the university reached resolutions to end the prolonged strike in the state-owned university.
The resolutions included immediate payment of three months backlog of 25 per cent salary arrears to the staff of AKSU for January, February and March 2020, stoppage of payment of 75 per cent salaries; and constitution of a Visitation Panel by the Visitor of the University, Udom Emmanuel.