The Governor of Kogi State Yahaya Bello has said that he is not going back on his decision to proscribed the Kogi State University (KSU) branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He said he took the decision in order to save education and the future of Kogi children.
Bello’s administration banned the union after an emergency session of the state executive council in Lokoja on Wednesday.
Speaking with State House correspondents after attending a meeting of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Wednesday night, he accused the union of being a tool in the hands of political opponents, noting that all efforts to get the lecturers back to work after months of strike action did not yield any positive result.
Asked if he was prepared for what could come should the national body of ASUU tackle his government, he replied: “Well, the most important thing is that Kogi State University belongs to Kogi State and it is the future of our children and of our students that we are concerned about.
“And so long as that is assured and we can protect that, I don’t think we have any apology for taking that decision.”
Bello further explained why his government decided to outrightly proscribe the union, saying “I inherited more or less a comatose institution and in a bid to resuscitate it, we need to carry out certain surgical operation in order to make educational sector in Kogi State healthy.
“And education is one of our five thematic areas. We did the screening exercise and several other things.
“Now, ASUU came up with several other bodies with certain demands. Some predated my administration and to the best of our judgement as an administration, we were able to meet up to 90 percent of these demands.
“And in a collective bargain, both parties should shift ground. And the way and manner ASUU Kogi State University Chapter was going about it, it is more or less like a political party that was in opposition.
“Apparently, there are certain forces from certain areas that were pushing them. That wouldn’t be my concern. But my concern particularly is that certain amount of demands that were put forward, among which is salaries, have been paid fully.
“And the institution has been on strike for almost seven months now.
“Now, the question is, government owed you seven months, government has paid you seven months among other demands.
“But there is one important thing that you are owing the critical stakeholders in education that you can never pay back, which is the time of the children, the time of our young ones, the time of the students that has been wasted that you can never give back.
“I appealed to them to return back. On or before the end of this month and that we will pay all outstanding arrears. Every other institutions resumed but KSU.
“But what is more amazing and disturbing is that in the course of interacting with them, in the presence of all stakeholders including the Attah of Igala, the Acting Chairman made a remark that even if we meet 100% demand of ASUU KSU or lecturers KSU, we only succeeded in minimizing the incidence of strike in the institution.
“Meaning, he went further to expatiate that if every thing is running normal in the institution and the National body of ASUU desires to on strike for whatever reason, Kogi KSU will join the strike action.
“And I think that is most irresponsible and they are not sensitive to the plight of parents, the students and even the future of the young ones.
“If that is going to be the case, as the Visitor to that institution, I am powered to proscribe that association in that institution so that we can have a smooth academic running.
“And as a government, we will live up to our duties and responsibility so that even our lecturers and all other civil servants in Kogi state will be taken care of adequately and within the ambit of our resources.”