April 19, 2024

ASUU, AAU’S Half Truth Activism

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By Simeon OSAJIE

The Management of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma has reacted to Wednesday February 28th, 2024’s press conference addressed by the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) AAU chapter.

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Describing the ASUU press conference as “a cacophony of half-truth activism which has become the forte of the ASUU leadership in the University,” the University’s Head, Corporate Communications and Protocol, Otunba Mike Aladenika, during a media interface with journalists in Benin City, said that the University had always seen responding to ASUU, AAU’s press conferences as a big distraction, if not a total waste of time.

He noted that In the present circumstances, the University would still have wished not to respond, especially as most of the issues raised  by the leaders are already in court, “but some things need to be addressed to set the records straight in the interest of the University, its students, law-abiding members of staff, parents and guardians, members of the public and other stakeholders of the University.”

Aladenika expressed sadness that while the University was doing all in its powers to maintain peace, inspire confidence and make progress, ASUU, AAUE leaders were mounting their familiar hobby horse of spinning half-truths about the University.

“How can the ASUU, AAU Chairman, for example, say that since August 3rd, 2021, when he came on board, the University has lost a minimum of 25 academic staff to the cold hands of death, to quote him, ‘over the crisis in the university, caused by aberrations, impunities, oddities and misnomers.’ What does he mean? I have even heard them specifically cite the alleged deaths as outcomes of non-payment of salaries. How was that ascertained? Generally speaking, who are the 25 lecturers that died? What are their names? What departments were they? What were they teaching? Are there personnel records of these staff? If there are, what are the records showing? Where are their deaths incidented?”

According to Aladenika, “because scientific accuracy is the hallmark of research, one would have expected ASUU, AAU leadership to substantiate with data, figures, time, and the true circumstances surrounding the death of their supposed ‘25 members of academic staff.’”

Otunba Aladenika further said: “Human beings abhor the bitter taste attendant to change but savour the aroma and the sweet taste of its success.” He said ASUU, “AAU should come to terms with the reality that the University has moved from the lowly abyss it wants her to be and was flying high.”

He pondered: “Why is it only in the eyes of ASUU, AAU that things are not working in the University? Why do they select specific times to begin their aggressive press wars against the University? I make bold to say without any fear of contradiction that a greater number of those crying wolf today were instrumental to whatever challenges the institution is now trying to correct. It is the hallmark of hypocrisy for them to even be coming out to attack the University and persons managing it.”

Aladenika said it was disheartening to hear ASUU, AAU say that the University was owing some staff up to 25 months’ salary. “One is forced to ask who this particular set of people allegedly being owed salaries are and why their names are not being mentioned. Are there reasons why their identities are being kept? I stand before you here today, dear colleagues, to inform you that the University is up to date in its obligations of salary payments to its genuine staff.

“As I speak with you now, the February, 2024  salaries of AAU staff have been paid. Staff and pensioners of the University received these salaries on the 26th of February. You may wish to go and verify. The Chairman of ASUU, AAUE, who was the leader of the press conference picked up his February, 2024 salaries before he came for their press briefing. Call the Chairman and ask him to swear if he has not been receiving his salaries for the past 26 months; ask him if he did not receive his January salary on the 26th of January, 2024.

“Also find out from him if he and his other academic staff members were not paid their December salaries by the University on December 22nd (before Christmas) 2023 and November, 2023 salaries on November 28th, 2023. Let those who claim not to have been paid for 26 months running be adding the 8 months they were on strike and the no-work-no-pay order was in force; let them continue to add up figures as they like and sustain their campaigns of falsehood, like the one concerning student enrollment.” 

Addressing the claim by ASUU that student enrollment in the University had crumbled because of the “crises” in the University, Aladenika queried, “Who says having bogus unmanageable student population is a mark of progress? Are they not aware of the current challenges arising from bloated admissions in the past? Do they know the importance of adhering to admission quota? Where, most importantly, did they get the figure of “barely 3,000 as the AAU students enrolment figures for the current session? Why play politics with everything?

“The ASUU leadership is aware of the reason for the supposed drop in the total admission intake in recent times. As we speak, admissions into our College  of Medicine and its ancillary departments are on hold due to the backlog of irregular admissions of the past which the present administration is battling to solve. The College is responsible for a very high percentage of admissions yearly, so if you paused the admission from there to correct an anomaly in three or four departments there running into many years, as has been the case for some time now, will it now increase the total student population admitted or decrease it? Simple logic.”

Otunba Mike Aladenika said it was shocking that the union leadership which often gives the impression that nothing was working in the University and shout that staff are withdrawing their services in pursuit of greener pastures have themselves remained in the system. He said, “If indeed the picture they paint is true or correct, and that the atmosphere is not conducive why have they themselves remained in the system?”

Aladenika assured the staff, students and all stakeholders of the University that the University Management is working hard to take the institution to greater heights.

“It will interest you to know that AAU which the leadership of ASUU, AAU continues to discredit recently bagged three prestigious awards in the areas of digital administration, Use of Social Media as well as well as Best University Portal. Our students have continued to excel while our staff (teaching and non-teaching) have continued to earn the respect and envy of their colleagues in other universities. Sadly, it is only in the eyes of the leadership of ASUU, AAU that our University is being badly managed. But this has got to stop.

“Our University remains competitive. I can tell you that AAU is on the path of progress. We have our hands on the plough and we are not looking back,” Otunba Aladenika affirmed.

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