Three labour unions in the university system, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), under the umbrella of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), have blamed the appalling decline in academic standard in Kogi State University, Anyigba on poor management of the university by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Hassan Isah.
In a recent rating of all universities in the country, Kogi State University, Anyigba which some years ago, was rated number one amongst state universities in the country and number seven amongst all universities in Nigeria, was now rated as number 111 out of 112 universities in the country.
The unions led a protest to the palace of the traditional ruler of Anyigba, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Abu Shuibu Okolo, where they submitted a protest letter for onward delivery to the State Governor, Capt. Idris Wada.
In the letter, they asserted that the situation had led to a serious drop in the academic standard in the university, which culminated in its fall to number 111 out of the 112 universities in the country.
According to the unions, poor welfare of teachers and gross mismanagement had reduced the quality of learning in the institution, blaming the university governing council and the management, for the unfortunate fall in quality of the institution.
The union also demanded the implementation of the 2009 agreement entered into by the three unions and the government, failure which they threatened to embark on an industrial action by the first week of October.
Chairman of JAC, Mr Moses Babatunde who handed the letter to the royal father, said, “This has been on ground since 2009. It is the result of the agreement of 2009 signed between unions and the government. Our major problem is the management of the university.
“We have met management more than 40 times. We have written to the university council more than 28 times and to Kogi State government more than 18 times. Throughout this period, we have met with the governor twice. We have met the deputy governor and we have met the head of service.
“Our welfare is not their priority. But for the principal officers, including the vice chancellor, the registrar, librarian, bursar, the university is not owning them a kobo. Why is it that the staff are not being paid?”
Speaking on the quality of the institution, he said: “Of course this affects the university system. As a staff, you can move once you get a better offer somewhere else. People are leaving. The implication too, is that the good hands are not coming. For instance, let’s take the issue of tax. Professors from a federal university are paying less than N10, 000 as tax. But in Kogi State University, they will be paying between N60, 000 to N65, 000. Such a person will not come to the school because he will be discouraged to pay such outrageous tax.
“When there are no good hands and the few good ones are leaving, it certainly affects the rating of the university. For instance, in a year, we lost more than eight PhD holders who are senior lecturers. They got their PhD and left because they trained themselves. So, we are grooming quality materials for other state universities. So it is really affecting the integrity of and the rating of the university.
“In-as-much as we are fighting for the welfare of our staff. We are fighting to maintain integrity of the Kogi state university.”
The unions also led a peaceful demonstration to the office of the traditional ruler of Anyigba, His royal highness, Alhaji Abu Shuibu Okolo, the Ogohi Onu Anyigba, where it also presented a letter to the traditional ruler to be delivered to the Kogi state governor.
In a letter addressed to the kogi state governor, through the traditional ruler of Anyibga, His royal highness, Alhaji Abu Shuibu Okolo, the unions decried what they described as unjust denial of their legitimate entitlement.“over the years, our appeal, struggles and agitations for our rights and entitlement have remained unattended to by both the university governing council and management. We are therefore forced to forward our case to you as last resort.”
In his response, the Traditional ruler commended the unions for the peaceful manner with which they organized themselves.
He said, “I will humbly and sincerely give the letter to the governor. I have the confidence that he will address the boiling issues. Any damage to the university will affect the future of our children. So we must join hands to restore the integrity of KSU. I want to thank you for the respect you accorded the traditional authority. It shows you are a responsible union with respect for constituted authority.
“KSU is for all of us. The institution is more than any individual. That is why the progress of the university is a collective responsibility.”