Earned Academic Allowance: ASUU president, CONUA chair in war of words

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CONUA accuse ASUU of peddling falsehood

The crisis rocking the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, over the delayed disbursement of the earned academic allowance further degenerated during the week as the national leaderships of both the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and its rival faction, Congress of Nigerian Universities’ Academics (CONUA) engaged in war of words.

The CONUA chairman on the campus, ‘Niyi Sunmonu, while clarifying what he tagged an allegation that his union designed a separate template for the disbursement of the EAA, accused ASUU national president, Emmanuel Osodeke, of fuelling the crisis on the campus.

Mr Sunmonu, who doubles as the national coordinator of CONUA, also blamed Mr Osodeke for the factionalisation of OAU branch of ASUU, saying his mission to the campus to intervene in an internal crisis within the union some years ago, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But Mr Osodeke has described the allegation as false, describing CONUA as a group of “liars, pretenders and an embodiment of illegality.”

Allegations

Mr Sunmonu, in a statement on Wednesday, accused Mr Osodeke, a professor, of peddling falsehood, saying the ASUU leader had falsely accused his union of developing another payment template.

Mr Summonu said it was the university’s chapter of ASUU that deviated from the known EAA payment template, accusing the chapter of creating a different template and that it attempted to force it down other lecturers’ throats.

The statement by CONUA reads in part: “The fact is that it was the ASUU OAU branch that departed outright from the form designed by their national body following the 2009 ASUU/Federal Government agreement.

“It did this by designing a Google form for its members. They tried to force this on CONUA members and this was resisted. ASUU OAU has continued to insist that any academic staff who refuses to fill this Google form will not be paid his/her due of Earned Academic Allowance.”

Speaking on Mr Osodeke’s role in the crisis rocking the institution, the statement added; “We in CONUA are however not surprised about this because such things have become the trademark of Osodeke. For example, in 2016, when he led a committee of ASUU to OAU to investigate the crisis in the branch, Osodeke turned in a report that was completely against the facts on ground in OAU.

“His report actually ended up adding fire to the crisis on ground. Osodeke in fact is a fundamental factor in the OAU crisis.”

Osodeke fires back

In his reaction to the allegation, Mr Osodeke, who spoke with our reporter on the phone, accused CONUA members of “wanting him to ignore the facts of the matter then, but to write a report that favoured them”.

He said; “So, when I went there at that time, they were having exactly the same crisis about who will become the vice-chancellor, and our union was playing a negative role. So we went there and told them exactly what to do; that as a union, it should not be thinking of a vice-chancellor from a particular state, tribe or village.

“We said they should be thinking of a vice-chancellor who would serve everybody; one who would develop the university not based on religion or state. Those were what we reported. But those of our colleagues who were involved in the idea of promoting people based on religion or tribe were unhappy with us. Today we have been vindicated.”

He urged the ministry of education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) to declare CONUA illegal and disband it.

He said; “They are liars. They are pretenders and they are fake and illegal. And ordinarily the Ministry of Education or NUC needs to step in, because you cannot allow an illegal group to be run in a university and the VC is supporting them and creating problems in that university.

“We are in a country where people believe in telling lies. We believe in when you are writing a report, write in favour of those in authority. That is what they believe. But people like us who believe in the truth and say it the way it is, many people do not like us. So CONUA members are the type of people that believe that you have to do something according to what the authorities tell you.

“And is there anything like CONUA that is registered in the Nigerian system? There is none. So, it is a fake group, an illegal group that is being encouraged by that vice-chancellor. By the trade union act, for you to operate as a trade union, you must be registered. But without registration, CONUA has been there for a long time causing crises on the campus. OAU is one of the best in the country but today, they have run it down. You can go there and check, they have run that place down. These are the same people working together with the VC in power.”

Ignore any new EAA form, ASUU tells members

Meanwhile, ASUU has directed its members not to fill another set of forms designed by the university management for the purpose of disbursing the allowance.

The new template by the management was a decision taken at the meeting that was held with a section of the university’s academic staff on Tuesday by the vice-chancellor, Eyitope Ogunbodede.

In its second bulletin about the strike, which was issued on Friday, the union’s chairman on the campus, Adeola Egbedokun, also warned heads of the various departments not to fill the forms on behalf of ASUU members.

He said: “It has come to the notice of the executive officers that some illegal group of persons are suggesting that the phantom Google form should be filled by proxy. Members should be careful not to fall for this deceit. Let us kindly warn our HoD’s or colleagues not to complete any form for us by proxy.”

He said ASUU had completed and submitted its forms to the university as far back as December, 2021.

“We need to reiterate that our members should not fill any Google form outside the one designed by the union because it is a charade that will benefit nobody. We have since completed our computation and we are eagerly waiting for our payment,” Mr Egbedokun added.

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The payment of the Earned Academic Allowances of the lecturers, which has been deposited to the school’s accounts since December 13th has been a source of controversy for weeks on the campus.

Payment template

Mr Egbedokun said his union is not against the payment of EAA to other academic staff members but that the payment must be made using the template designed by ASUU.

Parts of Friday’s statement read: “It is very important to state clearly that the union is not against the EAA disbursement to deserving academic staff, the position of the union is that every member must be subjected to the same template and the only template acceptable and recognised is the one designed by ASUU.

“The union will keep monitoring the activities of the university administration with regard to disbursement of EAA and ensure our money is disbursed in accordance with the template and computation submitted by ASUU. Any payment done contrary to this will attract the wrath of the union and every kobo misapplied will be retrieved.”

ASUU described Mr Ogunbodede’s earlier claim that ASUU’s computation was full of discrepancies as false, saying; “We equally interacted with the audit unit of the university and for over two weeks, nothing has come out of their so-called verification exercise.”

On the meeting with the academic members of staff held on Tuesday with the vice-chancellor, Mr Egbedokun said contrary to the university’s claims that up to 400 academic staff members attended, ASUU’s Strike Monitoring Committee, reported “less than 250 persons (out of about 1,280 academic staff in the university) in attendance”.

He said the attendees were mostly the management team and non–ASUU members, describing the university’s claim as “another propaganda to sustain their sinking ship.”

Despite strike lectures continue

Though ASUU has said more than 90 per cent of lectures and statutory meetings have been put on hold on the campus due to its ongoing strike, PREMIUM TIMES learnt some lecturers have continued to work.

For instance, in the Civil Engineering Department, a student said CVE 403 test was written on Monday and CVE 411 on Wednesday.

Another student told PREMIUM TIMES that in the Chemistry Department, CHM405, CHM 423, all held during the week.

One of the lecturers taking CHM427 also took the class while the other lecturer did not. However, CHM403 and CHM407 did not hold.

In the Quantity Survey department, one student said all lectures were held during the week except QTS 411.

For the physics department, another student said lectures were held for EPH 401, PHY 403, PHY 421 and PHY 409.

Peaceful Protest

Meanwhile, on Thursday, after a meeting at the First Bank Lecture Theater, members of ASUU-OAU were joined by their members from Benin, Akure, Lagos and Ibadan zones, to stage a peaceful protest on the university campus.

Videos seen by PREMIUM TIMES showed ASUU buses from Olabisi Onabanjo University, (OOU), and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akunga (AAUA) accompanying the protesters.

ASUU said it would use all means available to ensure that any money disbursed using any ‘illegal’ computation is fully refunded.

Mr Egbedokun also accused the university management of using divide and rule tactics to cause disharmony among the academic staff.

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