Students of the only Bayelsa State University, Niger Delta University (NDU), may have to stay longer at home following the inability of the state government to satisfy the demands of lecturers and other workers in the university.
The students have spent over four months at home since April when the lecturers exhausted their patience and embarked on an indefinite strike over non-payment of their salaries.
Workers in the university have not been paid since January, a situation that forced them to down tools and shut down a school that was founded at Amasoma, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, by late former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
The students took to the streets last month and protested the closure of the school and appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to resolve their differences.
ASUU, however, boiled over accusing the government of playing politics with NDU following its decision to establish the African University (AU) through the House of Assembly via a speedy legislation under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
It was gathered that a meeting held on Wednesday between government representatives and ASUU to seek ways of resolving the impasse ended in deadlock.
The Chief of Staff, Chief Talford Ongolo, was said to have led government delegates to meet with ASUU at the Faculty of Law, Gwegwe, Yenagoa.
Ongolo was said to have met a massively attended congress of ASUU consisting of all cadre of lecturers including reputable professors.
When Ongolo and his delegates were admitted to the floor of the congress, the lecturers were said to lashed out at him through superior arguments over the way he addressed them.
A principal member of the union who attended the meeting but spoke in confidence said the chief of staff drew the ire of his colleagues when he accused ASUU of refusing to call off the strike.
He said: “The Chief of staff started on a dry bad note by accusing ASUU of refusing to call off the ongoing strike after accepting to suspend the strike after payment of one month salary.
“He was rebuffed by members of the congress who asked him to either quickly apologise or sit down immediately for telling lies. It took the pleadings and entreaties of exco to calm the frayed nerves of members .
“As the congress was calming down, Ongolo raised the sensitive issue of the African University, Toru Orua. The Congress flayed up again when he praised the governor for setting up the new university.
“ASUU members told him point blank that he (Talford Ongolo) and all the members of the government team attended Rivers State University of Science and technology Port Harcourt.
“They told him point blank that the ASUU NDU strike has moved from salary payment to the defence of poor Bayelsan students whose educational opportunities are under serious threat by the calculated attempt by the state government to kill NDU in order to benefit from the proceeds of AU”.
The source said the lecturers were infuriated when the chief of staff accused three members of ASUU of testifying against the governor at the concluded governorship election petition tribunal that sat in Abuja.
“Members of the Congress became more infuriated and told Ongolo that the university system has intellectuals drawn from all works of life and that political affiliations of three members have no bearing with the issues in dispute between ASUU and the government”, he said.
The lecturers were said to have insisted that the government must pay three months out of the outstanding to enable them settle some of their debts and have the capacity to sustain their services at the institution.
They were said to have told the government not to allow the students suffer at home any longer.
Ongolo was said to have insisted that the government was desirous of ending the industrial dispute to end the agonies of students.
He further said Governor Seriake Dickson was willing to address the infrastructural deficit in the university.