Varsity Workers’ Strike: UNIBEN Staff Commits Suicide over Financial Strain

The prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other university unions in the country, has claimed a casualty at the University of Benin, (UNIBEN) with personnel of the institution, Carter Oshodin, ending his own life. Oshodin, data entry staff, and member of the university’s non-academic staff of universities, NASU, who resided in Umelu community in the Upper Sokponba area of Edo State, was said to have committed suicide due to economic hardship.

Recall that the federal government had invoked the no-work-no-pay policy aimed at breaking the strike by the university unions, causing the workers untold hardship. It was gathered that though NASU had recently called off its strike, the members were yet to be paid.

Oshodin’s Facebook account confirmed his job description at UNIBEN. In a message on his profile page, the deceased, who described himself as ‘Craze J. A’, had written: “Leave a good legacy behind before you depart”. In his 2017 Facebook post, Oshodin had counseled those who work in the public sector to persevere as there were better days ahead.

He had said in the post: “Another thing you have to know when working with the government because salary is peanut, you lose hope. Please don’t. I know a woman that started work with N125 in 1986, now she is earning over N300, 000 in 2017. That is why you have to be with what you are doing because little drops of water make a mighty ocean.”

Commenting on the development, a professor in the University who pleaded anonymity, described as disheartening, the non-payment of their salaries since the strike commenced. The don wondered why those who called off their strike were still not paid by the government.

According to him, “Yes, it was our staff that killed himself due to lack of money. Even some months ago, he was quoted to have been advising people on coping strategies, and yet he took his life thereby putting his family in a bigger problem.

“We have been paid no dime since we went on strike. This is the 10th of September, the non -academic staff that have since resumed have not been paid anything”. Speaking in the same vein, another colleague of the deceased who identified himself simply as Edward, said the late Oshodin, on his Facebook page, had lamented that he could not meet his financial obligations, and was finding it increasingly difficult to pay his two daughters’ school fees.

He said: “He committed suicide on Friday; and according to a post on his Facebook, he said he was facing financial difficulties and could not pay the school fees of his two young daughters. It is a pathetic situation.”

In its reaction, the Edo State Command Police Public Relation Officer, (PPRO) Chidi Nwabuzor, a superintendent of police, SP, said the matter was not reported to the police. Nwabuzor however disclosed that the divisional police officer, DPO in charge of the area, had been to the community for on-the-spot-assessment where the community head confirmed the incident, adding that it was also reported that the corpse had been taken away by his family.

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