By ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA—Chairman, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, chapter of ASUU, Dr. Uzochukwu Onyebinama, has accused the Senate Committee on Education of according leaders of the union shabby treatment, warning that the ongoing strike would last longer than Nigerians expected.
The Senate Committee on Education, headed by Senator Uche Chukwumerije, had invited the leadership of the union for discussion over the ongoing strike but the meeting was aborted without prior notice to the union.
Onyebinama said the ASUU team, led by its President, Professor Nasir Isa, was neglected by the Senate committee as no attention was given to him.
He said the team waited for several hours after arriving the venue of the meeting on time without the committee chairman and his colleagues receiving the union leaders.
He recounted how the team was shoddily moved from one place to another while waiting for over two and half hours for the meeting which never held.
Speaking with newsmen in his office, Dr. Onyebinama said ASUU members were making sacrifice for the development of Nigerian higher education system which he lamented had been steadily dwindling.
According to him, the current strike has nothing to do with the lecturers welfare but purely on issues of improvement of academic facilities in the universities,.
He said the Senate was not sincere in meeting ASUU leaders, noting that there was no reason to play hide and seek after the committee on its own invited the union for talks.
Quoting from a statement issued by ASUU president on the botched meeting with the Senate Committee on Education, Onyebinama said: “On the day of the meeting, ASUU’s team, led by the president, arrived the National Assembly at 12.30pm and passed through all the security checks and eventually arrived at the Meeting Room 221, where the meeting was scheduled to hold.
“The ASUU team waited for one hour and it took the call of the President to the Chairman of Senate Committee on Education before a piece of paper was sent to by the chairman requesting that we give
them another 15 minutes to conclude their discussion with ASUP. The ASUU team obliged and continued to wait for another 30 minutes.
“Finally, after waiting for two and half hours without any firm indication that it would be attended to, the ASUU team decide at 3.30pm to leave for another crucial meeting that had been pending since 3pm. We wish to reiterate our position and willingness to discuss with any individual, group or government in respect of the present action which has been forced on our union by Government’s refusal to implement the agreement it entered into with ASUU in 2009.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ASUU honoured the invitation of the Senate Committee on Education. After being shoddily moved from place to place, ASUU team led by its President, waited for two hours to be called for the scheduled discussions. However, for reason that ASUU cannot understand, it was never invited for the discussion”.
Onyebinama warned that the current strike might not be suspended in time unless the issues at stake were genuinely resolved.