By OLA AJAYI (IBADAN), AMAKA ABAYOMI (LAGOS), EMMANUEL AHANONU (UNICAL) & NNAMDI NWAIGWE (UNIZIK)
Campuses of most Nigerian universities are still under lock and key as members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, who have been on strike for six months, have, again, defied the ultimatum given to them by the Federal Government to resume academic activities on December 9 or be sacked, vowing to continue with the strike till government assents to their demands.
Recall that the Federal Government, through the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, had directed lecturers of all federal universities to resume on or before December 4, but had to extend it to December 9 to allow them bury the late ASUU President, Professor Festus Iyayi.
A visit to most schools around the country showed that most lecturers and students were yet to resume as lecture hall, halls of residences and offices are still empty or under lock and key.
At the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH), Yola, lecturers have resolved to continue with the ongoing strike as more than 300 members of the union in the university who attended the chapter’s last meeting voted in continuation of the strike.
The case was the same at the Adamawa State University, Mubi and Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, where the lecturers have agreed to continue the strike.
According to the ASUU Chairman of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Dr. Faruk Tambuwal, “we resolved at the meeting that nobody will sign any register. The sack threat is an empty one and it is not going to work because union members are still insisting on the payment of the salary arrears and inclusion of the non-victimisation clause in ASUU’s recent agreement with the Federal Government, among others.’’
Though the management of the University of Calabar had, in a memo captioned ‘UNICAL announces resumption of academic/allied activities’ which was signed by the school’s PRO, Effiong B. Eyo, said that ‘normal academic/allied activities will resume on the 4th of December, lecturers and students are yet to comply as the school is still empty.
But speaking to Vanguard Learning, the UNICAL ASUU Chairman, Dr. James Okpiliye, said members rose from its congress with a strong resolve to continue the strike until the agreements are implemented to the letter.
“It is management’s responsibility, not ASUU, to call students in or to send them out. If they want them to come back, it is purely their own decision, but we are still on strike. We warn parents that anyone who decides to send his or her ward to school is doing so at his or her peril.
“Have you heard that ASUU has suspended the strike? If management says students should come, fine and good. If they come and see people to teach them, fine and good, if they didn’t see somebody to teach them, fine and good.”
Meanwhile, high hopes of the students of Abia State University to resume lectures on the 9th of December were dashed as the lecturers still insist that they are on strike.
Angered by the situation, a final-year student of Education/English, Joshua Obimba, said; “I hate this, why are these people toying with our future?”
Right now, it is not clear when lecturers will return to classes, as a lecturer in the department of English Language wrote on his facebook wall: “I am proud of ASUU-ABSU! The struggle continues!”
It was evident that as at Monday, December 9, no academic activity was going on at the University of Ibadan as all faculties remained deserted.
When contacted, the National Treasurer, ASUU, Dr. Ademola Aremu, said it was wrong for the government to mistake the lecturers for labourers that can be humiliated by government.
Justifying the no-going back position of the union, Aremu warned that they should not be hasty in calling off the strike as there “is nothing yet to show for the five-month old strike if the union returns back to the classroom without documenting and getting the funds it asked for public universities from the Federal Government.”
Asking for proof that government had deposited the N200bn in a CBN account, Aremu urged members of the public to disregard the claim of the Information Minister, Labaran Maku, that government had released N45bn to schools as Earned Allowances.
… Strike continues — ASUU
For fear of being betrayed in the on-going strike, ASUU leadership has been giving its members minute-by-minute details of the meeting it held with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.
Though some members of the union remained committed to the struggle, their leaders were not sure if some of them would not compromise, especially with the pending sack threat.
One of the leaders who was at the meeting hurriedly sent a text message to his members saying they should remain immovable in the face-off.
The text message reads “We are at the final stage of concretising our understand-ing with Mr. President and we will hopefully return to classes in a very short time. It is certainly not on the rash orders of any thoughtless government official. Please comrades, let us not trade our future and honour for short-term gains. Let us not get sentimental about it. We are almost there.”
Before heading for the same meeting with Mr. President, leaders of ASUU, University of Ibadan sent a message to its members, encouraging them to remain resolute.
The message reads: “Dear members, stay calm and remain resolute. There is nothing wrong in asking government to do what it says it will do immediately. ASUU is not making any new demands.
Government is only repeating a ‘one act play’ scripted by the IBB dictatorship in early 90s. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now! ALL BRANCHES are intact. We can’t be intimidated!! Do not sign any register. UNITED WE BARGAIN, DIVIDED WE BEG!!! Aluta Continua.”