In view of Federal Government’s directive to Universities across the nation to resume academic activities effective December 4, I consider it apt to share with you, the issues concerning University of Uyo [Uniuyo] in order to dispel rumours and also let you know what “we” have been doing to solve the unfortunate June 12 Crisis that led to the closure of the institution before the strike.
I use the word “we” because its not been my effort alone, but that of various key players whom I will acknowledge in the course of this release.
For obvious reasons, I decided to keep quiet all along knowing that I would speak at the most appropriate time.
I believe the time is now. In order not to make it too lengthy and boring, I will present the facts bit-by-bit, in order of importance.
This will be a series, till all issues are treated.
On Saturday the 30th of November 2013, in company of the S.A. to The Governor of Akwa Ibom State on Students’ Matters, Comrade Ini Ememobong I attended a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of University of Uyo – Prof. Mrs Comfort Ekpo.
In attendance were the Dean of Students – Prof. Mrs Isongesit, the Vice Dean – Dr. Aniekan Brown, and the newly appointed Chief Security Officer of the Institution Lt. Col. Nuv Efik (Rtd.). Issues discussed were as follows:
1.0: OUTCOME OF THE CRISIS INVESTIGATIVE PANEL
Contrary to wide speculation that due to recommendations of the crisis Investigative Panel, the Governing Council of the University had resolved to rusticate 15 students alleged to have masterminded the June 12 Crisis and were involved in destruction of property, the VC informed us that upon resumption, a students disciplinary committee will be constituted and such students will appear before it to defend allegations levelled against them before punishment is pronounced.
We were also informed that a Penal Fee of N7,500.00 was proposed for each student while those in Engineering Faculty will pay a penal fee of N10,000.00.
1.1: RESUMPTION OF ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES
Sequel to FG’s directive to Federal Universities to resume immediately and the December 4 deadline to lecturers to resume or face disciplinary actions, the VC informed us that University of Uyo will comply with the directive although the institution was not shut down due to ASUU strike.
Consequently, we were made aware of management’s plans to give the school a face-lift such as rehabilitation of halls of residence, etc. However, we were told of management’s decision to discontinue the bus shuttle services, which was the immediate cause of the June 12 incident.
She urged us to use our good offices to support Uniuyo management in order for the institution to overcome contemporary challenges and reclaim its lost glory.
While responding, the S.A on Students’ Matters to the Akwa Ibom Governor, Comrade Ini Ememobong stated our position thus:
2.0: PENAL FEE
While acknowledging that overtime, penal fee had been instituted as a punitive measure on students, the SA warned that it may not serve as a deterrent against future uprising as the number of students that participated in the riot is just a minute percentage of the entire student proportion.
What this means therefore is that in future, the majority that did not participate might be tempted to do so because, upon resumption everyone will be required to pay regardless of the role he/she played.
He appealed for a reduction of the penal fee in consideration of less privileged students who may not be able to afford it.
He also suggested that instead of lump sum payment, management could institute a staggered payment process which allows students to pay bit – by – bit, to ease the burden on them.
2.1 DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE TO TRY ACCUSED STUDENTS
Comrade Ini Ememobong urged for caution on the part of the committee while carrying out its duty, as it lacks the powers to investigate and recommend sanctions on criminal charges against students. The case of Garba vs Unimaid was used to buttress his point.
2.2 OTHER MATTERS
Management relationship with students through the Students Union and other related issues were put up by us but due to its sensitivity I will not divulge details here.
The meeting came to an end on this note. I urge students who may be dissatisfied with management’s position on the June 12 Crisis to ventilate their opinion through proper channels other than demonstrations and protests.
Think of it, the June 12 Crisis occurred as a result of students protest against what seemed to be an unfavourable bus shuttle scheme.
A protest which was carried out in total ignorance of the catastrophe which later followed. Months after the protest, have students demand been met? THE ANSWER IS NO.
Instead, we have lost completely. This calls for sober reflection and critical thinking. At a time like this, we must rise to the task and challenge which lies ahead of us.
The task of rising from the calamity of the past and re-moulding our future.
We must review our strategy and process of pressing for demands; such that will not lead us to doom. My attention has been drawn to a meeting between the Institution’s Governing Council and the Students’ Union in which similar issues were discussed, especially that of comrades who lost their lives due to the incident.
I believe the Students’ Union will communicate the details when its most appropriate. In my capacity as NANS Vice President and with the SA on Students’ Matters solidly behind me, we shall continue to engage Uniuyo management in a peaceful manner until a comfortable middle ground is reached for both parties.
Reactions and opinions can be communicated to me via .
ALUTA CONTINUA, VICTORIA ASCERTA.
Comrade Ubon Marcus
Vice President Special Duties
National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS)