September 27, 2011

ASUU strike cripples varsities

*FG claims deal with striking teachers

By Our Reporters

LAGOS – THERE was total compliance, yesterday, to the one-week nationwide warning strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, disrupting examinations in the nation’s premier university, University of Ibadan, University of Jos  and paralysing academic activities in others.

The warning strike is in protest against Federal Government’s alleged refusal to implement the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement which will be due for re-negotiation in six months.

The agreement, among others include 26 per cent funding of education, wage improvement and upward review of retirement age of professors from 65 to 70 years, was signed by the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua’s administration after four months of strike which grounded all federal and state universities.

But the Federal Government claimed it struck a  deal with the striking lecturers  capable of preventing of apprehending warning strike.

While second semester examination was disrupted in University of Ibadan, and part-time examinations were postponed at University of Jos, because of the industrial action, reports in other parts of the country indicated full compliance by university lecturers in federal and states-owned universities.

In Lagos, academic activities in University of Lagos, and Lagos State University were completely shut down.
In Ibadan, besides the disruption of the on-going second semester examination and its postponement to October 4, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Other Institutions, NASU and their Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, counterpart, have given notice of warning strike from October 3.

Similarly, academic activities in University of Benin and Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma, in Edo State, were  grounded.
Also at AAU, ASUU Benin zonal chairman, Dr. Sunday Ighalo, described the strike as “total and comprehensive.”
In  Abia State, Abia State University, Uturu, and Michael Okpara University, Umudike, lecture rooms were empty as neither lecturers nor students attended classes.

It’s well, ASUU President

On the strike, President of ASUU, Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie, told Vanguard that the strike had commenced very well.

He said: ”As far as I know, the warning strike has started. The union has taken a decision and our members will abide. The decision to go on warning strike was taken by the union and not by me.”
Awuzie added that “the warning strike is going on across the universities in the country.”

FG claims deal with ASUU

Meantime, the Federal Government, yesterday, claimed it struck a deal with the striking lecturers capable of halting the warning strike, saying ASUU promised that they will quickly look into it, and urged government to equally keep terms with the agreement.

Speaking with State House Correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Emeka Wogu, said: “But, what is most important is the state of the nation. Are we going to be able to take the challenges that will come with shutting the universities, the answer is no and they believe that we should not go to that extent.

”Because when you go to that extent, that mean that you will drive people home, the students will now go into the streets and we are complaining that most of our students are being involved in some unwholesome activities. So, they promised that they will quickly look into it and urged government to equally keep terms with the agreement”.

“At the end of the meeting, we all agreed that the implementation committee that has been in place since 2009 should be expanded to include the Minister of Finance or the representative of the Finance Minister who is equally the Coordinating Minister of the Economy. It will include Minister of Labour and Productivity and the Budget Office”.

He stated that the committee will look at the issues contained in that 2009 agreement and the issues that have militated against the  implementation of that agreement and come up with a position that will indicate the challenges of government or indicate the challenges being faced by ASUU.