- VC vows not to succumb to threat to 16 years of uninterrupted academic stability
Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
Palpable tension wednesday enveloped the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, over the purported plan by the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) to install a factional group of the union in the university.
In view of this, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Abdulganiyu Ambali, warned that the management of the institution would not succumb to opposition that may affect the uninterrupted academic stability enjoyed in the university for 16 years.
THISDAY checks revealed that some members of ASUU from other universities wednesday invaded the campus of the university with the intention of conducting a new election for the local chapter of the union against the already existing union led by Dr.Usman AbdulRaheem.
The development however prompted the deployment of armed policemen and men of the Department State Service (DSS) in the state to the main entrance of the university to prevent any invasion of the campus by some groups which came from outside and to maintain law and order.
It was gathered that the development led many people including students to be subjected to security checks before they were allowed into the campus wednesday.
It was gathered that the remnants of the “UNILORIN 49” were said to be the brains behind the plot to elect factional leaders for the local ASUU.
The seven remnants of “UNILORIN 49” were said not to be favourably disposed to the recent election conducted by the institution’s ASUU which produced the AbdulRaheem-led executive.
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin yesterday, the vice-chancellor of the university confirmed that there was a rumour of an alleged plan by some external ASUU members to invade and conduct elections for the local chapter.
He said the institution’s management was not informed by anybody or group about the plan to elect new a leadership for ASUU in the university yesterday.
The VC added: “In any case, the local ASUU elected new executives to run its affairs about two months ago.”
Ambali stressed that the institution has in the past 16 years enjoyed peace and a stable academic calendar, noting that “no effort would be spared in sustaining the feat.”
According to him, “For 16 years, UNILORIN has enjoyed peace. It’s a routine exercise that when we noticed anything that could breach the peace, we beef up security.
“For about 10 years, our local ASUU has been suspended by the national body of the union, but since then, we have had about three ASUU executives.
“An election was held about two months ago to elect new leadership of ASUU.”
The VC who said his doors were opened for dialogue and mediation, warned that “any move to challenge the peace which UNILORIN has been enjoying will be resisted by Nigerians.
“We have improved in termsof infrastructure, staff and students welfare. We should all come together to make the university better by far.
“UNILORIN has been the most subscribed university in Nigeria in the last three years. Things cannot be done the way they used to be in the past.
“There is only one ASUU on the ground. The new group which is trying to spring up has about 13 members, while the substantive ASUU has over 700 members.”
Also, AbdulRaheem confirmed the alleged plot by some external ASUU members to put in place a new leadership for the union in the institution.
He confirmed that: ‘there were talks between us and the national secretariat of ASUU to reintegrate our branch into the main stream, but both sides agreed that there were fundamental issues to be resolved first before any election can take place.”
Abdulraheem said there were many cases before various courts on the issue which needed to be resolved or withdrawn before further development could take place.
Also speaking yesterday, the new factional Chairman of ASUU whose inauguration took place in a classroom, Dr. Kayode Afolayan, vowed to work with the management of the university so as to move the institution forward.
The 49 scaked lecturers of Unilorin were eased out of the university for taking part in the nationwide strike called by the national leadership of ASUU in 2001
The strike was embarked upon by the ASUU on the grounds of rot in the universities in the country especially poor infrastructure, poor funding, university autonomy, among others.
The affected lecturers then were also battling the former vice chancellor of the university, Professor Shuaib Oba Abdullraheem, over delay in the payment of salary, allowances among others.
The development however led the university management to order the lecturers who were protesting then to resume work or face the full wrath of the law of the institution.
In the event, the sacked 49 lecturers did not sign the open register for resumption of duty and this led to their disengagement by the management of the university.
All the peace moves then by stakeholders, royal fathers, opinion leaders, among others did not yield positive results as Abdullraheem refused to reinstate the sacked lecturers.
The sacked lecturers however approached Federal High Court, Ilorin on July 26,2005. The court led by Justice Peter Olanipekun ruled that the sacking of the affected lecturers was illegal and therefore should go back to their duty posts.
However, the management then appealed the verdict and the Court of Appeal upturned the ruling of the lower court.
The sacked lecturers then took the issue to the nation’s apex court, Abuja where the matter was determined for eight years until the ruling was delivered on December. 11, 2009 where the university management was ordered to reinstate the affected lecturers and also asked the management to pay all their outstanding salaries since the time they were eased out of service.
Since then, the national ASUU had suspended the Unilorin ASUU from the union and this has continued to create division within the local chapter of the union in the university.