By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – The lecturers of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) yesterday embarked on protest march to seek the return of the Federal Government to the renegotiation table with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with a view to ending the three months industrial action.
The rally which lasted more than three hours, kicked off at about 9.15a.m from the mini-campus of the university in the Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and lasted till 12. 20 p.m.
The procession which went through major parts of the streets in the Gwagwalada town, which disrupted vehicular movements for some time was, however, peaceful as they were provided with full police security.
The protesting lecturers were led by Dr. Abu Malam, the UNIABUJA Branch Chairman of ASUU while police security team was led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mr. Makaila Mohammed.
The lecturers who carried anti-government placards, described the Education Minister, Sam Egwu; Minister of State for Education, Aisha Jubril Dukku and the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, as the official â€œBoko Harram.â€
Some of the inscriptions read: â€œSave University education in Nigeria, remove Sam Egwuâ€; â€œDr. Egwu isÂ a Boko Haram, yes or noâ€ ; â€œMotivate lecturers and stop brain drainâ€; â€œRe-brand government officials and members of National Assembly.â€
Dr. Malam while addressing journalists at the end of the protest march described as mere blackmail by the government to have unilaterally awarded the 40 per cent rise in salaries of academic staff in the media and directed that other issues be negotiated with the individual university governing councils.
He said it was merely black mailing the teachers because the councils had no legal and financial autonomy to implement any agreement.
â€œWe reject the unilateral awards because they are not products of collective bargaining. We will not allow the government to divide the unions and destroy their collective strength,” he said.