UniAbuja lecturers’ parting gift to Adelabu

Barely three weeks to the end the tenure of the Vice Chancellor of University of Abuja, Prof James Adelabu, the university has plunged into another round of crisis. AUGUSTINE OKEZIE takes a look

The Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) University of Abuja Chapter (the splinter group) had on Monday announced an indefinite strike to draw the attention of the university community, to what they called “developments in the institution since after the work of the visitation panel” and the non-remittance of their check-off dues by the VC.

The Chairman of the varsity’s chapter, Mr Ben Ugheoke further disclosed that the union had resolved to embark on an indefinite strike beginning from Monday until all their demands were met which includes: payment of their check-off dues for the last three years and other allowances.
The Uniabuja ASUU chairman reminded him that facts available to the union showed that funds allocated to the institution were being misappropriated by the Vice-Chancellor, and that he was misusing his power.

He alleged that the vice-chancellor deliberately refused to pay their teaching, marking, supervision and professional allowances dating back to 2010.
The union also alleged that the vice-chancellor refused to check off their dues.
“The vice-chancellor in April 2013 checked off our dues as it is mandated by the Trade Union Act and some levies but the fund
The union further frowned among other things the systemic infrastructural decay of facilities in the university, extermination of post graduate studies and the center for distance learning programmes of the university as well as Professor Adelabu’s divide and rule policies and arbitrary disregard for due processes.

But the Vice Chancellor, Prof James Adelabu, who briefed newsmen at the Main Campus Thursday in Abuja said the school management has fully paid all the check-off dues to the union adding that those making the allegation were out to smear his image. He challenged the lectures to prove to the fact that their salaries are not being paid in bulk inclusive of their check -off dues. According to him, he had expected the lectures to voluntarily come forward and pay their dues without being prompted and wondered why the former ASUU boss, Dr. Clement Chup, did not lead by example in this regard.

The VC insisted that alleged the union had its ulterior motives behind their baseless demands and challenged them to tell the public the whole truth.
According to him, “ASUU owe the public the responsibility of telling them the right thing. As far back as April last year before government even announced that, I stopped the issue of check-off, that is the union’s dues which we helped to collect directly from source and remit to them, these monies were paid along with their salaries and the union know very well that the check-off are paid alongside their salaries to them individually.
“There had earlier been a directive as regards to check-up during strike, the document is there but up till now there is no repeal of that, I wonder how they now come up with the latest allegation that I refused to remit their check-off dues, if you as an individual is owing the union, you already have your salary paid in full, why don’t you take it and pay to the union?”
Speaking on the allegation that he opened a bank account where he has been lodging the monies meant for the check-off dues, Adelabu chided the lecturers for trading in lies.

According to him, “Some alleged that I opened an account, it is very sad when you see academics talking ignorantly as illiterates, if I opened an account as alleged, they should investigate and tell the world the truth.
“We are not withholding any money or dues belonging to the union,  nothing has been deducted, the check-off is paid along with their salaries, they have it in their pockets, what else do I remit to them?”

On the issue of allowances, the VC said “there are no allowances approved by the government that I am holding on to. If you are talking about our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) sources, I can tell you that some people are disgruntled on how the monies are appropriated.
“One problem is that, the public has not been told the truth, what is basically causing the problem is the issue of sharing formula of all IGR. We usually workout the percentage and after paying the resource persons, my own opinion is that the rest of the money belong to the university and that is what we have done. So, the school is not with holding any allowances to the union”.
It will be recalled that the federal government had on July 16, 2012, constituted a visitation panel to resolve issues affecting the institution but the white paper of the report had yet to be released.

The University has been embroiled in one internal crisis other throughout Adelabu’s tenure which is expiring this month. The crises had witnessed a polarized academic community with those siding Adelabu being branded integrity ASUU and the mainstream ASUU under the leadership of Dr Clement Chup, the former branch leader.

Critics have wondered whether ASUU’s latest action is not belated considering that fact that Adelabu is leaving shortly and whether the outstanding issues should not form part of the agenda for the incoming vice chancellor, but Mr. Ugheoke insisted that since Adelabu started it he must finish it .He further expressed the union’s wish that the incoming vice chancellor should rather start on a clean bill of health.