As Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA) resumed for the suspended mid-semester examinations after several weeks of closure over students’ protest against hike in school fees, a fresh crisis is looming in the institution and other stateowned universities. The higher institution workers, comprising academic and non-academic staff members are up in arm with the managements of the institutions over the retirement age and non-remittance of their pension to the various pension fund administrators. The institutions are the four tertiary institutions owned by the state government, which are Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH) Okitipupa, the University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED) Ondo, and the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo (RUGIPO). Before the closure of their universities, the students of AAUA and OSUSTECH had protested the increase in their school fees by the management of the institutions, but which the state government and management institution had denied any increment in tuition fees of the affected institutions.
The protests, however, led to the closure of the two institutions, as well as suspension of academic activities, including the ongoing mid-semester examination. Worried by the action of the state government and management of the institutions to hike the school fees, the Nigerian students under the umbrella of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in a solidarity rally, staged a three-day protest in Akure, the state capital. Meanwhile, the management of Adekunle Ajasin University, led by its Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Igbekele Ajibefun, had in a circular made available to joyurnalists at the weekend directed the students to resume and to be prepared for semester examinations, which were suspended following the protest. The circular titled: “Resumption of Students from Mid Semester Break,” and signed by the Acting Registrar, Opeoluwa Akinfemiwa, reads in part:
“The Senate of the University at its emergency meeting held today, Thursday, June 6, 2019, discussed the resumption of students from mid-semester break. Senate after deliberation, decided as follows: “That students should resume on campus for the remaining part of the first semester 2018/2019 academic session on Sunday, 9th June 2019. The first semester 2018/2019 examinations will commence on Monday 17th June 2019.
This circular serves to bring the above decisions of the Senate to the attention of students and the university community for their information and compliance, please.” But, as the students are preparing for the examination, there is palpable fear that the academic activities might be truncated over the demand by the academic and non-academic staff for non-remittance of their pension to their respective pension administrators and non-implementation of the retirement age for both academic and nonacademic staff.
This was against the backdrop of the decision of the management of AAUA and OSUSTECH directing theRegistrars to proceed on retirement having attained 60 years of age. But the unions are insisting that the position of the management violated the extant rule of the Federal Government that pegged the retirement age of non-academic staff at 65 and professors at 70 years.
This development prompted the industrial unions, comprising the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU); the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) in the University of Science and Technology to stage several protests against what they described as alleged unlawful retirement of their members and non-remittance of pensions to their pension fund administrators. The protesters were said to have locked the gate of the permanent site of the institution, insisting that the protest would to continue for seven days until their demands were met.
The Chairman Joint Action Congress (JAC) of the unions, Mr. Temidayo Temola, who spoke with reporters, said the institution’s management had served five of their members’ retirement letters against the lawful retirement ages of 65-70 years as stipulated by the Federal Government.
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