ASUU STRIKE:10 STUDENTS FEARED DEAD
No fewer than 10 students have allegedly died in an auto accident following the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), South East zone.
ASUU, in the five states' universities in the South-East geo-political zone, had on Monday, July 19, 2010 proceeded on an indefinite industrial action to force governments in the zone to take serious, issues of the states' universities in the zone.
But speaking to newsmen after a meeting with the Chairman of ASUU South-East Pro-Chancellors, Prof. Elo Amuchiazi at Parktonia Hotel, Awka, at the weekend, the Students Union Government (SUG) presidents of the five universities pleaded with governments in the zone to ensure that the strike was called off to avoid more lives being lost.
Spokesman of the presidents and SUG President of Anambra State University, Mr. Paul I. Okafor, noted that the ongoing strike had dealt a serious blow on the students and their families. He said the meeting was conveyed, in the resolve, to see a peaceful resolution of the problem between ASUU, the management and owners of the institutions, as the state governors did not act on their earlier seven days ultimatum to resolve the mater.
He said: 'We conveyed this meeting because of the adage that says that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. We are pleading with the governors to call off the strike by dialoguing with ASUU on the issues in contention.' The students, however, warned that in resolving the problem, increment in school fees must not be part of it, adding that information reaching them was that the governors were contemplating increasing school fees to meet ASUU demands.
'In the course of the meeting, we were told that Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, has given the management of the state university authority to increase the fees and that they are contemplating increasing from the current N36, 500 to between N50, 000 and N60, 000 for the old students and N120, 000 for new intakes.'
They noted that the 2007 strike that lingered for three and half months ended with school fees being increased in Anambra State University, adding that in 2007, it rose from N18, 500 to N26, 500, in 2008 (N26, 500 to N31, 000) and in 2009/2010, it rose from N31, 000 to N36, 000.
The students in the South East zone lamented that with the ongoing strike, the South East law students were losing admission into the Nigeria Law School. The SUG presidents also complained the daily loss of their academic staff to institutions in other geo-political zones due to the strike. 'It is a fact that needed no prove that our universities are far below standard vis-Ã -vis poor library facilities, poor security network, poor health facilities, poor practical / laboratory equipment which have resulted to the half-baked graduates produced from our universities.
'However, as a result of the previous four months strike by ASUU in the year 2009, our universities lost over 50 students to accidents alone.' Warning that their staying at home was endangering their lives, alleging that while some of the 10 students died in an accident, some died mysteriously in their villages. The students reasoned that if the schools have been in session, such deaths would have been prevented.