[From INI BILLIE, Uyo]
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Calabar Zone, has blamed the lingering industrial action embarked upon by its members on the unguarded utterances of some government officials.
The union said misguided statements by highly placed officials in executive level of government were responsible for the hardball posture adopted of the Federal Government towards demands by ASUU.
Speaking on behalf of the zone at a press conference, Tuesday in Uyo, ASUU Zonal Coordinator, Dr Aniekan Brown stated that it was unbecoming of government officials to delay the amicable resolutions of the lingering issue.
“There is no doubt that you are aware of the recent vituperation from some highly placed individuals in government. For instance, the Minister of State for Education, in a blaze on a national television rather on a disparaging note asked our members to join the farming profession.
“He callously stated that any of our members who did not want his job should resign for others who are eager for the job. He was also reported to have quoted non-existent figures concerning our members enrollment on IPPIS.
“Such expressions are, the least to say: very unbecoming of someone employed to manage the education sector in our country, and insulting on the sensibilities of our members. The best the said Junior Minister could do is to apologize to our members and Nigerians.
“Another sad development is the threat from the Minister for Labour and Employment, which could best be explained in the context of “hangover” of the military rule. He should be reminded that he is dealing with academics in a democracy. His role is that of a Conciliator, not an advocate for any group.
“In the same bracket is the Accountant General of the Federation, whose prevarications speak for the disposition to the concealment of facts. That top Civil Service office has illegally, coercively, and deceitfully attempted to migrate our members into the IPPIS.
“A careful analysis of his expressions and actions on the unpaid salaries of our members would point to double-speaking and insensitivity to the plight of our members who are also bread winners in their respective families. Remember that we are presently in a depressed economy”.
Brown explained that the officials were not telling government the real issues, but trying to divert government attention from the main issues at hand.
He said it shows government’s intention to continue to shut the gates of universities in the country and keep them close.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that Government has failed to satisfactorily address the issues. Here lies the testament that Government is determined to make the gates of our universities remain closed.
“Worsening the matter is the obnoxious corruption-infested IPPIS issue and the unfortunate/woeful and condemnatory expressions and actions of some opportunistic fellows in high places, who are driven by the forces of imperialism,” he said.
The ASUU Calabar Zone is comprised of seven Universities across four states including Abia State University, Akwa Ibom State University,
Cross River University of Technology, University of Calabar, Ebonyi State University, Alex Ekwueme University and University of Uyo.