ASUU Strike: CRUTECH May Not Resume with Others, says John Ukam
Dr. John Ukam, former Secretary of Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) branch of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has stated that CRUTECH may not resume along with other universities in the country, when the ongoing ASUU nationwide strike gets suspended. He stated this today during a telephone conversation with presenters of “The Hit Breakfast Show” on Hit 95.9 FM radio station, Calabar, Nigeria.
Although Dr. Ukam did not justify his disclosure on that program, he stated that there is no indication that the Cross River State government is ready to attend to CRUTECH’s peculiar needs, when LinCornellah’s blog called him on telephone to clarify his position, immediately after the program. He told this blog that apart from projects executed in that university from counterpart funds, no major project has been undertaken there by the government of Cross River State, in the past twelve (12) years. He cited what he described as poor learning facilities, bad roads within the Calabar campus of the university and flooding resulting from channeling of Calabar’s drainage around the school’s staff quarters, as evidence of neglect from the Cross River State government, owner of the university.
While speaking earlier with presenters of “The Hit Breakfast Show”, Dr. Ukam stated that the current nationwide ASUU strike is about rot in the education sector, rather than about salaries of Lecturers. He said: “There is a total rot in the education sector. For instance, those who had gone to secondary school in the 70s and 80s and are now teaching in the universities as Lecturers, would discover that secondary schools were better equipped in terms of science and technology, reagents and other facilities for research. If you go to many universities, you would discover that the Lecturers are no longer there. They are going to Europe and America for greener pastures. That is what ASUU refers to as ‘brain drain’. You would also look at students’ hostels and other facilities. They are in total state of dilapidation. The health sector in the universities, the sports sector in the university, they are not there. There are no recreational facilities in the university anymore.”
He disclosed that ASUU’s struggles have been ongoing since the military era in government, adding that he does not understand why successive governments in Nigeria keep enjoying the perks of government without living up to the agreements made by previous governments. Dr Ukam recommended this as the way forward:
“We need a more responsive government. We need a government that can live up to its responsibility…. We need a government that is at least, honest. Once it signs an agreement, it should try to implement it. If it cannot implement it, it should reach out to the parties and tell us ‘we are having problems here or we are having problems there’ and stop playing the ostrich. We are all aware… everybody in the country knows that the education sector has been totally neglected by government. From primary, secondary, tertiary education, all are neglected…. ASUU is not talking about money. We are saying that the educational system should be taken as a priority project. In short, the government should declare a state of emergency in the educational sector.”
When Maurice Inok, one of the Presenters of “The Hit Breakfast Show” interjected that a state of emergency is required in almost every sector in Nigeria and it may be too much for government to handle all these, Dr Ukam submitted: “The health sector is hinged on education. Agriculture is hinged on education. The economy is hinged on education. The university or the educational sector is just like a computer. Once you garbage in, you also garbage out. We are expecting and demanding that the government should be alive and responsible. Give the students quality education so that they can serve locally and internationally.”
Dr. John Ukam currently represents congregation in the Governing Council of CRUTECH. Congregation comprises ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT). Those unions officially commenced a nationwide strike yesterday, over demands for improved funding of universities and welfare of workers. All offices in CRUTECH were locked, when LinCornellah’s blog visited that university today.
- Cornelius Ellah