There was confusion on Tuesday at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra State following the disruption of a meeting of a faction of the Academic Staff Union of Universities of the institution.
Members of one faction had converged at the ASUU Secretariat of the institution for a “reconciliatory meeting” when a splinter faction stormed the venue, insisting that the meeting must not hold.
The splinter group had held a similar meeting at another venue in the institution before storming the venue being used by the other faction.
Addressing journalists, shortly after the crisis, Chairperson of the ASUU chapter, Okechukwu Aniebo, expressed disappointment over the incident, describing it as uncalled for.
Aniebo accused the parallel faction of working for the Vice-Chancellor, while denying that their meeting had anything to do with the planned nationwide strike as alleged by the other group.
He said, “We convened the branch congress to reconcile ourselves and be one body following the misunderstanding we had during the past administration. Some left the union and as a result, it was difficult to demand our rights while divided.
“We have seen our members dying. No staff of the university, dead or retired has received one naira as pension benefits from the state government.
Surprisingly, some persons from the management went to the internet to reject our peaceful move. But since the majority responded to the invitation and expressed their joy, we mobilized our members for the meeting.
“After seeing our publication, they scheduled their own meeting. But to avoid anybody claiming we wanted to disrupt their meeting, we decided to make use of our Secretariat, despite its limited space.
“But as kola nuts were being presented, the two deputy VCs of the institution stormed our meeting with armed anti-cult security men. It’s so disappointing that the DVC brought his office so low to snatch my chair and table from me.
One of the security officers held one of us on the shirt and dragged his phone from him. We simply showed them maturity because we can’t operate at their levels.
“I have not seen anywhere in the world a DVC is a leader of a trade union. It is absurd. Just because they want to impress their paymaster. What manifested today is animalistic behaviour.
A member of the other group, Prof. Osita Chiaghanam, had accused the other group of plans to join in the looming ASUU strike, describing them as trouble makers with the aim of blackmailing the management and truncating the smooth running of the university.
He said, “All the lecturers resolved not to join any strike action, whether local or national because we don’t have any issues with the university management. We are not being owed, while we are still discussing with the management regarding any other grey areas, including pension.
We also resolved to continue to deliver our mandate so as not to miss any academic calendar. It’s unfortunate that just about 10 of them decided to foment trouble and blackmail the university management with the aim of truncating the smooth running of the university.
“But we cannot fold our arms and watch the university being dragged in the mud by a few individuals. If they have any grouse they should feel free to approach the VC who has a listening ear.”