Lecturers at the Kogi State University, Ayingba have withdrawn their services. The strike action which started mid-April is over non-payment of salaries. The KSU branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) issued a 21-day ultimatum to management in March, demanding the payment of at least 3months salaries and their earned teaching allowances.There was no response from management and the state government until the ultimatum expired on April 13. The teachers who last received their salaries in November held an emergency meeting on April 14 and resolved on “no pay, no work”. They have vowed not to return to the classrooms until they get paid.
An anonymous source from the university’s vice chancellor’s office described the strike as “an act of sabotage”, while the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the governor Mallam Abdulmalik Abdulkarim called on the lecturers to be patient and return to work, since the governor is relatively new and is supposed to be assiduously working hard to make Kogi better.
But all these are merely attempts to blackmail the local ASUU. Has the governor not and his aides not received their salaries since he came on board in February? Besides, last year April as well, KSU lecturers had to embark on a similar strike action before they were paid the backlog of salaries they were owed at the time.
This goes to show that the only language the government and management understands is struggle. This struggle is not that of only the KSU ASUU, which has the full support of the ASUU National Executive Council. The local ASUU should reach out to the students’ union, NASU, SSANU, NUT & other trade unions in the education sector as well as the Kogi State NLC & TUC Councils for an all-out fight until the salaries of all workers in the university are paid.
The NLC, TUC & Joint Negotiating Council (Trade Union Side) have also all called for the payment of backlogs of salaries of their members that have not received any salary this year as well. These platforms also recently embarked on a long drawn strike. The ASUU KSU branch should team up with the other trade unions. Their demands are the same.
It might not be enough to merely withdraw their services. The non-payment of wages of educational workers is a threat to the educational sector as a whole. It is impossible to teach well when a teacher at any level is not sure of her or his daily bread. This is the time to win working class-people for the defence of education rights.
Protest marches should be organised to the seat of government in Lokoja. Along with the demand for the payment of backlogs of salaries, the demands of the protest movement must include adequate funding of education in Kogi state. KSU ASUU musts seize the time and struggle. If the lecturers dare to struggle with resolve, they will be daring to win.
by Yusuf Lawal