FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OTUOKE, BAYELSA STATE.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
I want to thank you for the opportunity to address you this afternoon on this important matter of the establishment of staff (and in fact of student) unions in our new university. We lifted all restrictions on them only on December 12, 2015, at the speech that I made on Matriculation Day 2015. The lifting became appropriate as we now have the law establishing our University in place (signed April 2015) and a Council in place (inaugurated May 2015, with a first meeting only in September 2015).
The University is truly excited about the creation of staff unions, but we are concerned – and insist – that it be done properly. We do not wish a repetition of the situation in our sister and new Federal Polytechnic Ekewor (Bayelsa State) where the formation of new unions resulted in strife on campus and the death of staff, leading to the detention of the Rector for alleged preferential candidate disposition and murder of the unfortunate victim.
The ultimate end of the process that we have in mind is the creation of staff unions liaised with the existing National Unions – ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAATS. However between now and then, Management of our University must manage matters properly so that all the leadership that merges do so democratically. Please understand that even members of Management are also potential members of these National Unions, and also have a right to know how their leadership is to be chosen.
This is a new university, and we don’t have any organized unions yet. Consequently no Constitutions of unions have been violated yet. What we wish to do is to understand exactly how the different cadres of staff wish to go about identifying exactly who will be interfacing with representatives of the National Unions as they come onto campus to interact with you so that there are no misrepresentations.
I discussed this matter with the SSANU (East) leadership (Dr. Leku Ardo in particular) just today, and he seems to have understood. I am prepared to do the same with other officials of other Unions but only AFTER meeting with key members of our University’s Academic, Senior Staff, Junior Staff and Technologists, so that proper liaising can be worked out. If you have such people among you, do let us know right away, and we will meet with them to start discussions immediately.
So we urge patience…all your interests will be met...…and so let peace reign.