-CRUTECH Staff Held Hostage as Students Protest against ASUU Strike-
Staff of Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) were held hostage in campus for more than three hours today, by students of the university. The students barricaded all entry points to the university and exit routes from there, making it impossible for staff who live off campus to return to their various homes after close of work. Neither did vehicles drive into that institution, during that action that started at about 3.00pm and ended at about 6.30pm.
The students’ action followed today’s resumption of strike action by CRUTECH’s branch of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU gave CRUTECH’s branch of the Union permission to embark on strike, following unresolved industrial issues with the government of Cross River State. According to reliable sources from that Union, all attempts by leaders of the Union to seek audience on those issues with Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, have so far proved abortive.
Equally, representatives of Students Union Government (SUG) of the university reportedly attempted to seek audience with members of ASUU and appeal against the strike, during ASUU’s congress held this afternoon. That attempt was reportedly rebuffed by the leadership of ASUU who had earlier been alerted that some students were planning to disrupt the congress.
Students who spoke in anonymity with LinCornellah’s blog explained that that rebuff led to the action against staff of the university. The students mentioned that they are tired of incessant strike actions by their Lecturers, especially after a similar national strike action was suspended about one month ago. They added that they do not understand why their Lecturers are embarking on another strike action. One of them who lives off campus stated that he feels frustrated because he lives in a rented apartment that “does not respect ASUU’s strike”. He added that his rent would expire next month and he does not have money to secure an extension of rent, if ASUU’s strike keeps him in Calabar beyond December.
Today’s protest began immediately after members of ASUU dispersed from congress. Usually, most staff of the university drive out of campus from 2.00 pm to convey their children home from schools in Calabar Metropolis. The protest tampered with that habit, as no vehicle was allowed to drive out of the university.
Following this development, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Anthony Owan Enor and Chairman of the University’s Governing Council, Dr Emil Inyang, addressed the protesting students and appealed for calm. The Vice Chancellor told the students that he is unhappy about the fact that they spend “almost twelve months in two semesters”.
He said that members of the Governing Council met this morning and appealed to leaders of ASUU to discontinue their plans to embark on strike but regretted that the appeal was ignored because “Union is Union”. Professor Owan Enor promised that the State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, would promptly attend to ASUU’s demands. The Vice Chancellor also assured the students that second semester examinations would start as scheduled in the university’s calendar.
However, that protest continued, despite those assurances. Some of the students loudly demanded that they want to write their exams. They remained undaunted, despite a heavy downpour that started at about 5.15 pm. Some of them were running in the rain and placing additional barricades on the road, close to the Vice Chancellor’s car park. There was no sign of destruction of property and molestation of anybody, though.
Most staff of the university including this Reporter parked their cars close to the university’s gates and remained frustratedly inside those cars, throughout this evening’s heavy rainfall. There was a gridlock of vehicles from the university campus to the flooded portion of Ekpo Abasi junction near the entrance to the university, after the gates were flung open.
Meanwhile, this blog hopes to serve its readers regular updates on that strike action by CRUTECH’s branch of ASUU, as events unfold.
- Cornelius Ellah