The year 2018 has brought numerous blessings to many individuals. Many attained new academic heights, others bought big cars, built houses, drew closer to God, got married, borne kids, won awards, got new jobs and so much more. Of course, there were also challenges here and there. In this article therefore, the publisher attempt to summarize all that occurred especially within the Niger Delta University and environs and to speculate what the year 2019 portends for the management, staff and students of the institution.

January

The year 2018 started on a very good note especially for 2017/2018 freshers as second batch supplementary was released on the 8th of January, 2018 which was also  the resumption date from Christmas holiday where academic activities were supposed to commence for 2018.

However, things went on smoothly until March when issues of school fees increment and staff transfer started in the NDU. It was believed that the structure of the school fees was tampered – if not increased. This infuriated the students and community at large, an act that led to numerous unfruitful discussions with the NDU management and consequently series of protest. At the tail end, the tampered school fees structure remained unchanged and students’ body disbanded till date. It was also discovered that the state government together with the school management had released a list of staffers to retrench because of what the government described as overstaffing.

February/March

Accordingly, by March 14th, non academic staff of the Niger Delta University took to the pathways of the University and streets of Amassoma to register their displeasure over what they described as the “unethical manner in which the state government has treated the non academic staff”.

Within this period till May, series of other protests and confrontations occurred which later turned bloody where several lives were lost. At this point, many students and community members had fled the community.

April/May

Around May 23rd, staff of the institution were informed to commence work immediately. Also, the news of calmness in the community had filtered in. However, after closure of the school for weeks, by May 24th, the state government promised to wade into the matter with a view to resolve the issues that led to the bloodshed.

By May 25th, heavy police presence in Amassoma started reducing.

By May 27th, the Amassoma youths released a press statement regarding those fanning the embers of discord and instigating their youths, notifying them to steer clear. The youths leaders of Amassoma community claimed to be deeply pained by the dimension the peaceful protest, which started as a result of the labour crisis in the Niger Delta University, NDU and how it metamorphosed into violence, destruction of properties and loss of lives.

By May 31st, 2018, bulletin had been released on the resumption of academic activities. School had been on suspension because of the numerous riots. School was to resume Monday June 18th, 2018.

The Student Union Excos that were listed to face the Senate Disciplinary Board on the 16th of April, were then rescheduled to face the Senate Disciplinary board on the 13th of June 2018.

June-September

From late August till early September witness the emergence of the 2018 flood in Amassoma. Although a warning had been issued earlier by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, no one however thought the magnitude would be this destructive.

Within the week of 14th September, the water level started rising and subduing fields in Amassoma community.

Prior to September 23rd, the NDU had sent 1st batch admission list to JAMB and the JAMB had started implementing the list. So, students started checking their admission status in JAMB CAPS as from 14th Sept.

By 27th September, the Organized Labour embarked on a nationwide 14-days ultimatum strike.

The Organized Labour embarked on its planned warning strike even as it accused the Federal Government of failing to mention a figure as new minimum wage for workers in the country.

By September 28th, the flood had reached the ETF building, signaling the beginning of a to-be-sacked academic session. Also, on the same date, the NDU chapter of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) agreed to join in the one week warning strike declared by the national body, beginning from Monday 1st October 2018.

October

By October 1st, the flood level had increased to an unimaginable level. And the pressure to suspend academic activities had been severe on the NDU management. This was because numerous students and community members had been sacked from their homes. On this same date, the NDU management was reluctant to suspend academic activities and instructed, through the S.A. VC that all affected students should apply for free hostel space so that academic activities can continue.

By October 3rd, the NDU management bowed to pressure and suspended academic activities till further notice.

By October 4th, application for supplementary post UTME was opened. The supplementary post utme was to allow only candidates who chose NDU as first choice but were not aware that the form had been on sale and also closed. It was also intended for those who would change institution to NDU as their first choice.

By October 8th, the big day for freshers came up – the commencement of online clearance for freshers. The portal however, was closed on the 9th possibly due to technical/administrative issues but was reopened on the 10th. It was also purported that admission letters were still being processed then.

As at 11th October, the surging flood had settled. It was thenceforth expected that the water level will recede so that school can resume. By then, school had been on flood holiday for 8 days.

By 12th October, the NDU released 2nd batch admission. Also, the Vice Chancellor of the Niger Delta University inspected the flood level in the school so as to ascertain the nearest possible resumption date.

By 18th October, we rumoured Second Batch Admission list was to be released. Later same day, the list was released. Same 18th, the news of Patience Wasini’s demise slapped us all. May her gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

October 23rd, Second Batch Supplementary contd. admission list was released. Also, the NDU sent message of o’level re-upload to admission applicants for a second time. Additionally, DESOPADEC bursary registration commenced.

By 24th October, classes for second semester in some faculties had commenced. However, not many classes were held before the interception of the current ASUU strike.

On the 27th, the NDU released another batch of admission. It was difficult to speculate the specific batch since the batches were released somewhat haphazardly – so to say.

By 28th October, the Flood has started reducing drastically and Senate Meeting on the 28th yielded no positive results.

On 30th October, Yabaleftonline reported that a UNILAG microbiology student commits suicide over failed courses, making it the 3rd Microbiology student who’d commit suicide.

On the 31st of October, the Niger Delta University released a date for resumption from the flood holiday. The Committee of Provost and Deans (CPD) held its 119th meeting on Tuesday October 30th, 2018 which considered the food situation and decided that lectures should resume with effect from Monday November 5th, 2018.

November

On November 1st, we made a publication on the deadline for the payment of school fees for freshers. This publication was aimed at enlightening freshers on the deadline for payment of school fees. A corresponding publication aiding students to avoid school fees fraud was also published.

By Nov. 2nd, the Bayelsa State Government held its annual Thanksgiving ceremony which made Nov 2nd a holiday for Bayelsan civil servants.

4th: It was a hectic news for the Academic community when news outlets reported that ASUU had embarked on an indefinite strike action. All academic staff of universities were directed to withdraw their services immediately. At this point, the NDU had not joined that strike. It was widely speculated that the NDU ASUU chapter would not dance to the tune of the federal ASUU. Our speculation was soon to be trashed.

By the 5th of November, after declaring a nationwide strike by the National body of ASUU, it was reported that the University of Ilorin refuses to join the ASUU strike. Members of the NDU academic community were hoping to tow the same path.

On the 6th of November, the Lead Administrator, Admissions and UTME sent an open letter to the Vice Chancellor, Niger Delta University on the need to stay away from the ASUU strike. Unfortunately, against all odds, the NDU joined ASUU strike. We described this then as poor men dancing in the same party with rich men. Other universities may have plentiful of time, whereas, we had none. This ASUU dance should have been left for those with plenty of time. On this same date, the Niger Delta University released Direct entry admission list which had been in expectation for the past month.

By November 8th, the Niger Delta University had joined the ASUU strike which took off four days earlier (Nov. 4th).

Within the late hours of November 9th, news of the murder of Fred Seiyefa had rented the air. She was purported to have been gunned down by phone thieves.

By November 13th, a solidarity procession march was made in honour of Ms. Fred Seiyefa in Yenagoa who was gruesomely murdered earlier in November.

By November 15th, another meeting between ASUU and FG ends in deadlock again, yielding no positive results.

On 16th November, the Pro Chancellor and members of the Niger Delta University Management committee received Miss Iberiyenari God’stime Tamunofiri who won the first price in the Nigerian Student Poetry Price and members of the University Contingent to the West African University Games (WAUG) who won several medals at the games.

Still on ASUU strike, on the 17th November, Babalakin accuses ASUU of Wanting Govt. funding but doesn’t want to be accountable.

On the 19th November, the Federal Government declared Tuesday, November 20, 2018 as a public holiday to mark the Eid-El Maulud celebration.

By November 22nd, news of female panties being used for rituals have surfaced online when Urhobo Today published alleged new form of robbery that had left students of Delta State University, Abraka – popularly known as DELSU, frightened. According to Urhobo Today, unknown hoodlums are now stopping girls and snatching their panties at gunpoint for reasons best known to them. It was also claimed in one of the online reports that some girls are also being forced by the gunmen to urinate in cellophane bags.

Again on 22nd, another ASUU meeting with FG ends in Deadlock. Also, IMSU student, Jennifer allegedly commits suicide after stabbing her boyfriend to coma.

On November 24th, news went viral online that members of the police division in Akenfa murdered one Mr. Nikade Tarela, a 300 level student in the Faculty of Engineering of the Niger Delta University after he was found running when the police came raiding a suspected criminal hideout.

On the same day, Campus Catch Page reported that the mother of the Late 300 level Petroleum Engineering student of Niger Delta University Mr. Nikade Tariela that was reportedly killed has committed suicide. It was alleged that she has undisclosely taken poison (Sniper). Though, unconfirmed, this was posted by friends and possible relatives who broke the news online. Others say the sniper was not able to kill her and she was receiving treatment. Angry Youths were said to protest the Brutal Killing of the 300 level student, Tariela Nikade at Akenfa, Yenagoa.

On 27th November, the Pro Chancellor and Chairman, Niger Delta University Governing Council Prof. Steve Azaiki, Led a delegation of Council members on an Assessment tour of the ongoing Senate Building project and the Dual Carriage way under construction by the Bayelsa State Government. Deliberating on the progress of work on projects, the Pro Chancellor expressed delight at the quality and speed with which the projects are being executed.

28th November saw the reduction in the cost of JAMB form from N5,000 to N3,500 by the Federal Government. Many believed that this was a ploy to gain votes in the 2019 pools. Also, Blessing Adekola, a 300Level Student of the Department of Political Science, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko was reported to had been used for money rituals when locals believed she had lost her Memory after dropping off from a Lexus Car in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. Blessing was reportedly referred to as a ‘Runz Girl’.

Again, Lishman made a post signed by the PPRO, Bayelsa Command, DSP Asinim Butswat that “In furtherance of the investigation on the death of Tariela Nikade by Sergeant Timadi Emmanuel under questionable circumstances on November 23, 2018, at Tenacious Road, Edepie, Yenagoa, the officer has been tried and dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force, investigation was said to be ongoing and he was expected to be charged to court”.

Within the same 28th, Delta State students in NDU were “all joys” as the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission paid its bursary of 30,000 to its beneficiaries.

By November 30th, the office of the SA media to NUBSS president worldwide announce the burial ceremony of Late Ozogu Fred Seiyefa which was slated for 1st December, 2018 by 8:00am at the family’s compound, Amarata, Yenagoa on Black and Black Dress Code.

December

By December 1st, we brought you a report on the differences between 2012 and 2018 flood in Amassoma. The report indicates that 2012 flood was higher than 2018 flood level with a height of 8 inches.

Within December 10, we have already started our campaign against sexual harassment within the universities. Our aim was to put a stop to “sex for marks” and extortion by university lecturers. On the same date, the Niger Delta University held its Annual Thanksgiving to thank God for his mercies all through 2018 and beyond.

By 12th December,  Nigerian students under the auspices of the #Nolecturenovote campaign planned to stage a nationwide protest aimed at bringing students back to the class after a month and 8 days of being out of class.

On 19th December, we released our publication on the effect of strike actions on academic activities: The Niger Delta University Experience.

Around December 20th, the FG declares December 25th, 26th, January 1st public holidays. Also, JAMB announces January 10th as the official date for commencing the sales of 2019 JAMB forms.

Within the week ending 23rd December, 2018, the NDU ends Academic Activities. Accordingly, non-academic activities which were ongoing aside ASUU were to commence second week of January (7th January, 2019).

By December 22nd, the NLC had declared January 8, 2019 as a nationwide protest day. The protest is to express anger and total dissatisfaction over the delay by the federal government in transmitting, enacting and implementing the new national minimum wage of N30,000.

On the 25th, a final year Urban and Regional planning student of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Boluwatife Oyeleye was, on Christmas Day, killed by a hit-and-run driver in Lagos.

By 27th December, 2018, it was reported that an ABU ZARIA 300 level Student Commits Suicide, leaving a suicide note behind on how her parents who called her witch frustrated her to take her life.

By 28th December, 2018, Nigerians woke up to receive the news that Lulu Briggs had died. The philanthropist, who died Friday 28th December, 2018 was 91.

By 30th December, 2018, the final batch of admission which most persons referred to as the VC list was almost being completed as many got admission in the week starting 23rd December.

Conclusion

These are the highlights for 2018. While the year started on a good note, same can’t be said on its closure as ASUU is still on strike. The year 2019 however, holds a lot of prospect for the NDU. It was speculated that the NDU VC aimed to embark on a three semester per year session starting from 2019. This is to allow the institution meets up with NUC academic calendar. Despite the numerous challenges, we believe that with the sagacity, foresightedness and effective administrative style of the good VC, the NDU will surely bounce back to its normal glory where it used to be at the forefront of academic calendar within Nigerian academic institutions

Michael O'Jules

Michael O'Jules

Vocational Business Educator, Admissions and UTME Nigeria

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