The strike by non-academic unions in public universities has taken its toll on the institutions as they battle filth and struggle to keep services such as electricity and water supplies functional.
The PUNCH correspondents, who visited the universities on Monday, reported that although teaching was going on, the strike by non-teaching staff had thrown up various problems in the institutions.
For example, while refuse has piled up at male and female hostels of the University of Calabar, Cross River State, students of the University of Jos are battling with stoppage of water and electricity supplies.
Their colleagues at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus confided in The PUNCH that they contributed N500 per room to pay cleaners they brought from outside to clean their hostels.
Recall that the non-academic unions on February 5 began a nationwide strike over non-payment of their minimum wage arrears, rejection of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System and opposition to the Federal Government’s sharing formula for earned allowances, which gave the Academic Staff Union of Universities N30bn.
Refuse piles up at UNICAL hostels, toilets, bathrooms filthy
The PUNCH correspondent, who visited the University of Calabar’s hostels noticed that toilets, bathrooms and surroundings were dirty.
On Monday, the veranda of Hall 4, which is a male hostel also known as Malabo, and the surroundings of Hall 6, which is a female hostel, were not clean as cleaners had shunned work since the strike started.
At the male hostel, a 100-level Computer Science student, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated, “Since the strike began, our hostel toilet and the one at e-library have not been cleaned.”
A 400-level Banking and Finance student, who also resides at Hall 4, complained about the dirty toilets and bathrooms.
A 200-level Education/Chemistry student said, “Everywhere is dirty as you can see. The cleaners have not been coming to work because of the strike.”
The institution’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Effiong Eyo, said, “The students’ sanitation committees in hostels have been activated. They are in charge of cleaning the hostels for now. Management through the Dean of Students Affairs has provided materials for cleaning to the various hostels. The exercise is being moderated by the office of the Dean of Students Affairs. This will continue till the strike is called off.”
We defecate in the bush at night due to lack of water – UNIJOS students
At the University of Jos, it was learnt that apart from water scarcity at Naraguta, Abuja and the Village hostels, all the campuses had been without electricity since the strike began.
When one of our correspondents visited the Blocks A and B of the Naraguta hostel on Monday, students lamented the difficult situation they were going through as a result of the strike.
Some of the students, who were seen with buckets of water, were returning from a nearby secondary school opposite the hostel where they had gone to fetch water.
A 300-level English Literature student among them, who declined to give his name, said, “This (water scarcity) has been the situation since we resumed. We also don’t have electricity. Every day, we go outside to beg for water. We cannot use the hostel toilets because the whole place is in a mess and we have to wait till night to do that thing (defecate) in the nearby bush. If you go to Abuja and Village hostels, the situation is the same.”
The Students Union Government president of the university, Biringmiap Peter, said he no longer slept in the hostel due pressure from students.
“There are lots of challenges to be addressed. Students even accuse me of covering up for the management which is not true”, he said
Some lecturers lamented that the strike had affected the teaching of science courses.
“You can’t teach some subjects without experiments and the lab attendants who should be available with the necessary materials have locked their offices. So, the situation is really frustrating, “ one of them lamented
The University Deputy Registrar, Information and Publications, Abdullahi Abdullahi, when contacted declined to comment on the issues describing them as “union matters.”
He said, “I cannot comment on the strike because the issues concern the unions and not the university.”
We contribute N500 per room to clean our hostel – UNN students
At the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria, some students, who spoke to one of our correspondents decried the filthy state of the hostels.
Some of them said they paid cleaners to clean their hostels.
A student, Oforkansi Gabriel, said the situation in the hostels was unbearable.
According to him, the student leader in the hostels brought cleaners from outside and students contributed money to pay them.
He stated, “Our own governor (student leader) has tried because he went out of his comfort zone to bring cleaners, pay them for the job but we all contribute money.
“Without that, I don’t think anybody can stay in this hostel because the situation is quite unbearable.”
“The people doing the cleaning are external cleaners the students pay. We pay N500 per room. You count the number of the rooms in the hostels and multiple it by the amount.”
Another student, Ogechi Ani, said, “We pay cleaners to help us clean the hostels. The strike is not affecting the students badly. We are attending our classes and we are still doing what we want to do. The lecture halls are open for lectures.”
Also, the Director of Transport, Students Union Government, UNEC, Comrade Chukwu Obaji, said “Since the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (and Non-Academic Staff Union went on strike normal academic activities have been going on smoothly.
“Although some classes are locked, lecturers do find a way to conduct lectures for the students. The strike has not affected the academic calendar of the school because as it stands now I am a law student and I will be starting exam next week.”
The Director of Public Relations, Okwun Omeaku, told one of our correspondents that academic activities were going on smoothly without any hindrance.
UNIPORT postpones matriculation, students’ registration hindered
At the University of Port Harcourt, it was gathered that the institution’s matriculation had been postponed because of the strike.
A senior worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “A situation where one of the union is feeling superior to the other is one of the issues in contention. No union can function without the other.
“For example, our matriculation has been shifted because it is not the lecturers who give gowns to the students, record students’ details and give them matriculation number.
“Because those things are not in place, the university management decided to shift it (matriculation) because they (non-academic unions) are not here to do them and you cannot go and bring somebody from outside to do the job they are supposed to do.
“They (union leaders) went to the health centre and those who were there were all chased out. So, it’s terrible. Even in the administrative block, there is no light
Also, a lecturer in the university, who confided in The PUNCH, said the strike was affecting academic staff, adding that there was no electricity in his office.
“I say this because all those who power generator, buy diesel are all non-academic staff. So you can see how serious the situation is,” he said.
A student of the university, who identified himself as Oluchi, said cleaners had not been coming to work, making the university environment dirty.
Ex-students can’t access transcripts at FUTA
At the Federal University of Technology, Akure, many offices were locked on Monday. It was learnt few officials who came to work were members of the senior staff who were on essential duties.
A student in the School of Management Technology, of the university, who simply identified himself as Adewale, said the strike had its effect on the students, especially the former students.
He said, “For instance, those who want to get their transcripts and those who have one issue or the other to settle have not been attended to due to the strike. There is nobody to attend to them due to the strike.
It was also observed that the lecture rooms and premises of the school were clean.
This, an official, who confided in The PUNCH, said was because the cleaning of the campus had been contracted out and was not handled by the non-academic staff of the university.
At the University of Ibadan, the main gate was bereft of the usual hustle and bustle. Few people trickled into the university through the small gate meant for pedestrians while the big gate for vehicles was locked.
The security men were not on hand at the pedestrian gate to enforce compliance with the COVID-19 protocols of usage of face masks.
At the car park, just at the entrance of the school gate, there was an unusual lull as taxi drivers and tricycle riders were not engaged in rush hour to pick students to lecture halls.
The Director of Public Communication of UI, Mr. Olatunji Oladejo, when contacted said the university would begin a new academic session next Monday.
Water scarcity hits ATBU, students rely on well
At the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Bauchi State, students lamented the strike had affected them negatively.
A 300-level female student in the Agricultural Department, who gave her name as Habibat, said that the strike had halted the online registration of students since the portal had been shut down for over one week.
She lamented the scarcity of water in the school hostel, saying the only available source was a well in the school.
According to her, there is always a long queue of students at the well every morning.
She stated, “I waited for almost an hour before I could get some water from the well this morning. At times, we just do ablution to avoid turning up late for lectures because of the long queue.’’
Another 200-level student of Mechanical Engineering Department who identified herself as Becky Thomas, said there was always darkness in the school hostels every night since the strike started.
SSANU stops power supply to OAU Senate Building, threatens total darkness
SSANU at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, on Monday gave the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Eyitope Ogunmodede, 24 hours to pay the hazard allowance of members from the earned allowance released to the university by the Federal Government.
The SSANU OAU branch chairman, Ademola Oketunde, in a chat with one of our correspondents, also said power supply to the Senate Building of the institution was stopped, as a result of the ongoing industrial action.
Oketunde said members operating the generating set supply Senate Building were members of the association and had joined the ongoing strike.
He also said power supply to faculties in the institution was not tampered with yet, because the strike had not been total.
Oketunde said, “Those managing the power generating set to the Senate Building are members of my union. They have joined the strike. We have our national strike and this local issue with the management that may further compound the situation.
“It is not yet total strike. Once we commence comprehensive strike, there will be total darkness. We are discussing with the VC. We believe he will do what is right by using the Earned Allowance released to the university to pay our hazard allowance. Unless that is done, I can’t predict what will happen before the end of this week.”
When contacted, OAU Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olanrewaju, said he was not aware of the demand for hazard allowance by SSANU and NASU members.
“I am not aware. The ongoing strike is targeted at the Federal Government but if the unions are now saying OAU management is the target, then I am not aware of their demand.” Olanrewaju said.
At the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, union leaders on Monday ensured that their members complied with the strike order.
When one of our correspondents visited the campus, the unions had also locked down the Centre for Information Technology System.
UNILAG, NASU Chairman, Mr Kehinde Ajibade told The PUNCH that the UNILAG Health Centre was allowed to operate so that their members who might fall sick would have access to healthcare service.