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Two parallel academic bodies – Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Congress of University Academics (CONUA) – have been engaged in a battle of supremacy at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, over the last two years. Unfortunately, students have become the proverbial grass that suffers when two elephants fight. OKERINMODUN FAITH OLUWASEUN, a final year English Language undergraduate of OAU, reports.

Students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) have become pawns in the war of superiority between two academic bodies in the institution – Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Congress of Universities Academic (CONUA).
ASUU and CONUA operate as parallel bodies with almost similar modus operandi, even though the latter is a fallout of the former.

On Monday, ASUU began an indefinite strike to protest the Federal Government’s stoppage of their members’ salaries for refusing to enrol in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), as well as not fulfilling certain components of the 2009 Agreement. Incidentally, the union just ended a two-week warning strike at the weekend, before the indefinite strike started.

Interestingly too, CONUA which started in OAU a little over two years ago, with tentacles in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma; Federal University, Oye Ekiti; Federal University, Lokoja; and Kwara State University, Malete; has already enrolled in the IPPIS. CONUA insisted that its members would continue to hold lectures.

The new students resumed four weeks ago, while those already in the system resumed the week ASUU warning strike kicked off.

Some lecturers of CONUA, especially from the faculties of Science and Arts, among others, held lectures for students all through the period.

This development left most students confused as many were not sure whether their willingness to attend lectures at the instance of CONUA would set them on a collision course with other lecturers in ASUU.

Lectures in OAU have become a gamble, adding that a lecturer may hold a class this moment, while the following class is empty as the next lecturer might not show up.
Olasunkanmi Ajao, a final year Education Technology student of OAU, blamed both parties. While lambasting ASUU for often resorting to strike as a major weapon of agitation, Ajao tongue-lashedthe government for killing public institutions via underfunding.

For nearly 15 years, Ajao said the academic body has continued to agitate for almost the same demands, amid government’s indifference and I-don’t-care disposition.

“The education sector in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. The same issue keeps re-occurring and the government doesn’t want to change,” Ajao concluded.


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