The management of
Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port
Harcourt, at the weekend gave indications of its willingness to engage the
striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the institution in
meaningful dialogue as a means of resolving their disagreements.
Speaking at the weekend in Port Harcourt, the institution’s Deputy Registrar/Public
Relations Officer, Mr Desmond Wosu was reported to have said that the
management of the university was now prepared to dialogue with ASUU and other
unions to restore peace and normalcy to the institution.
However,The Tide investigations last week revealed that
uneasy calm and uncertainty once again enveloped the RSUST, Port Harcourt,
following the strike action declared by
ASUU in protest against the re-appointment of Prof Barineme Fakae as the
acting Vice Chancellor of the university.
It would be recalled that the university’s ASUU had given
the state Governor and visitor to the university, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi
Amaechi a one-week ultimatum to reverse the re-appointment of Prof Fakae or
face industrial action.
It was crystal clear last week when The Tide visited the
university that ASUU had made good its
threat to embark on strike at the expiration of the ultimatum, penultimate
Wednesday, as there was no indication that all was well with the state-owned
Indeed, an atmosphere of uncertainty, confusion and
apprehension hovered over the campus, as distraught students idled away.
While some gathered in groups particularly around the
Faculty of Engineering block, speaking in hush tones, others milled around
There was nothing to suggest that teaching and learning or
other meaningful activities were going on at the university.
Several persons, suspected to be non-academic staff, were
also seen gathering around the Amphitheatre block, including stern-looking
security men, who were patrolling the area.
Opposite the block, two SOS vans were also strategically
positioned, facing the road.
The entrance of the Senior Staff Club was firmly locked, as
some security men were seen taking position within the premises of the club.
The club, which used to be a beehive of activities was
deserted, as senior lecturers of the university and other guests who used to
cool-off there after the day’s work, were nowhere to be seen.
Three lecturers who were seen directly opposite the club,
were , however, visibly agitated.
They lamented that an incident had taken place at the venue
where members of ASUU were holding a meeting last Wednesday, to apparently
review strategies of the strike.
They alleged that an unidentified young man in black attires
had invaded the venue of the meeting, and disrupted it in full glare of
securitymen who had positioned themselves inside the hall to monitor
proceedings as the ASUU meeting progressed.
Suspecting foul play, some ASUU members were said to have
whisked away the Chairman of the union, Dr Felix Igwe for fear of his life. The
Tide, however, could not confirm immediately reports and insinuations that Dr Igwe was brutalised and was being
hospitalised as a result.
However, the Deputy Registrar (Public Relations) of the
university, Mr Desmond Wosu told The Tide in an exclusive interview in his
office that ASUU had not notified the management of its intention to proceed on
While attributing the lull currently experienced in the
university to dangerous and unfounded rumours making the rounds concerning the
strike, he said the re-appointment of Prof Fakae, whom he said, had performed
creditably in office, was not enough to degenerate to industrial action.
Wosu also noted that Governor Amaechi did not make a mistake
by re-appointing Prof Fakae, saying, the re-appointment was the best thing that
had happened to the university.
According to him, Prof Fakae’s reappointment was done in
good faith, following his track record of achievements for the university since
2007 when he assumed office.
He listed the achievements to include the eradication of
cultism in the university, the introduction of e-learning system, which he
said, had placed the university on high pedestal, the full accreditation of the
university’s programmes by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the
improved ranking of the university from 76th to 19th position.
He also indicated that the Fakae-led administration had ensured that admission into the university
was based on the carrying capacity
prescribed by NUC, to the extent that classrooms and lecture rooms were no
longer over-populated while lecturers no longer complained of having too many
scripts to mark, coupled with the fact that the university’s science
laboratories and workshops were now well-equipped.
The university’s image maker further noted that Prof Fakae’s
re-appointment would put the university in a better stead, as his
administration would ensure continuous, rapid transformation of the university.
‘Members of the university community should give peace a
chance. ASUU should adopt dialogue so that we can move the university forward.
Enough is enough. Let us not drive our students to the streets again. It does
not augur well for us , it does not augur well for parents. It is not good for
our children. Let us support the management to move the university forward”, he
He also defended the VC’s administrative style, and sued for
peace, tolerance and dialogue.
However, a member of the Senior Staff Association of
Nigerian Universities (SSANU) who was visibly disturbed by the current state of
affairs at the university, while speaking to The Tide under condition of
anonymity, advised the Vice Chancellor to step aside in the interest of peace,
and not allow the university to be consumed by selfish interest.