The striking non-teaching workers of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, on Friday, embarked on a demonstration to demand the first-year students’ matriculation programme coming up on Saturday should not hold.
The management had scheduled the matriculation programme for today, following the completion of the orientation programme during the week.
But the aggrieved members of the Senior Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, and the National Association of Academic Technicians, NAAT, cooperating under the aegis of Joint Action Committee expressed concern holding the matriculation exercise while they on strike means ignoring them and their demands.
They have been on strike since the beginning of December after a disagreement arose from the prescribed sharing ratio of the academic earned allowance between them and their academic staff counterparts.
The earned allowance, totally N23 billion, was released by the federal government for the public universities, with the prescription that the teaching staff and non-teaching staff should take 89:11, respectively. But the non-teaching workers want equality.
Joined by their colleagues from the neighbouring from the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, the aggrieved workers staged the protest, which took them around the campus, after the rose from a meeting held at the multi-purpose hall of the Faculty of Education.
Some of the placards they carried read “no matriculation”, “no to divide and rule” and so on.
One of them, Tessy Uzo, told our correspondent that their action was due to the fact that the management had decided to “ignore the pleas and requests of the associations and instead employed National Youth Service Corps members and casual workers to perform the functions of the workers who are on strike.”
She also said that it had been rumoured that the university management said they could do without them.
This was corroborated by both the Njideka Nwagu and Confidence Okafor, SSANU chairman and spokesperson, respectively, expressing displeasure over the matriculation and, thus, demanding cancellation of the programme.
The matriculation is billed to start 11 am in front of the school library on Saturday, said the school’s spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu.
As its success is now threatened by the aggrieved workers, one first-year student, coming in to study History and International Relations, Akachiwkwu Njideka, expressed sadness that the plan for her big day is about to be disrupted.
She called on the management to take action to forestall the disruption.
But another student of Building Technology, Obiekezie Michael, said that it is a welcome development if the matriculation ceremony is cancelled as it would give him time to prepare for the ceremony.
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