BY OUR REPORTERS
ACADEMIC activities in the nation’s public universities grounded to a halt as members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday made good their threat to embark on indefinite strike to force the Federal Government to implement the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement over two years after.
Leaders of ASUU under the aegis of the National Executive Council, NEC, of the union at a meeting in Port Harcourt, had Saturday directed members across the country to begin an indefinite strike over alleged failure of government to address their grievances even after ASUU granted it a two months grace.
ASUU is asking government to improve university’s funding, review the process of appointing Vice-Chancellors, review the retirement of lecturers to 70 years among others.
In directing members to commence the strike, ASUU President, Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie, said “NEC, having noted that the Federal Government neglected, ignored, failed and refused to implement the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement after more than two years of its signing, having squandered two months it requested without achieving any progress in the implementation of the agreement, having sacked the Implementation Monitoring Committee that served as the forum for dialogue with ASUU on this dispute, is convinced that the government is terribly insincere and is manifestly unwilling to genuinely implement the agreement it freely entered into with ASSU. The government has abandoned the main tenet of industrial democracy- that all agreements freely entered into must be honoured.”
“Therefore, ASUU resolved, painfully, to direct all members of ASUU in all branches nationwide to proceed on a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike, beginning from the midnight of Sunday, 4thDecember, 2011. For the avoidance of doubt, a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike means: no teaching, no examination, no grading of script, no project supervisions, no inaugural lectures, no appointment and promotion meeting, no statutory meetings (Council, Senate, Board etc) or other meetings directed by government or their agents.”
LASU, UNILAG comply
In Lagos, Emmanuel Edukugho, Ikenna Asomba and Joy Osuji, report that academic activities had been suspended in the crisis-ridden Lagos State University, LASU, and University of Lagos, UNILAG.
At LASU, most of the offices and faculties were yesterday locked and few students were seen on campus as many of them stayed away as a result of the crisis rocking the institution over the recent hike in tuition’s fees. Laboratories, library and other resource facilities were under lock and key.
It was gathered that some students actually came for lectures but there were no lecturers around.
The heavy presence of armed policemen and Personnel Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs, stationed at the gates of the University seemed intimidating.
Secretary, ASUU/LASU, Dr. Abayomi Jimoh who spoke with Vanguard, confirmed that lecturers had embarked on a comprehensive and indefinite strike, explaining that ASUU strike absolutely had nothing to do with salaries, but that the union was fighting for the future of Nigerian youths.
“These demands include elongation of retirement age of professors and associates from 65 to 70 years. Another critical issue is the funding and establishment of research and development units which should be tailored to develop the Nigerian economy. Also, there is the need to comply with the 26% UNESCO recommended budgetary allocation to education.”
At UNILAG, lecturers complied with the directive from ASUU to commence an indefinite strike and students who went for lectures were disappointed as there were no teachers in the classrooms.
Dr. Karo Ogbinaka, Chairman ASUU/UNILAG, said “the institution is fully complying with the directive to go on indefinite strike. “We are mobilizing our members to comprehensively join in the strike.”
UNIJOS lecturers avoid classrooms
In Jos, Taye Obateru, reports that academic activities were yesterday again paralyzed at the University of Jos, UNIJOS, as the institution’s lecturers joined their counterparts nationwide to commence the indefinite strike called by the national body.
Most lecturers stayed away from school while those who showed up said they came to pick some things from their offices.
Students who spoke to Vanguard lamented the situation and pleaded with government and ASUU to resolve their differences promptly in the interest of students, saying “We are always the victims of these unending strikes as we end up spending more years in school than we should have and we have become juniors to our peers who attend private universities or who school abroad.”
Branch Secretary of ASUU, Dr. John Galadima, confirmed a full compliance with the strike from members and said a congress meeting was fixed for today to brief members on the details of what has so far transpired between government and the union to necessitate the strike.
ABSU, Michael Okprara University of Agriculture comply
Similarly, in Abia, ANAYO OKOLI, reports that the strike took off effectively in the state as lecturers from both the state university, ABSU, Uturu and the Michael Okprara University of Agriculture, Umudike, complied with the directives from ASUU.
Though ABSU students were billed to resume yesterday after a short break, a visit to the university showed that no academic activity took place yesterday as the lecturers stayed away from the classrooms and their offices.
The coordinator of ASUU Calabar zone, comprising University of Uyo, University of Calabar, Cross River State University of Technology and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Dr. Charles Ononuju, said the lecturers were complying with the directive of the union.
“It is a national directive. Everybody is complying with it. We are monitoring to ensure that every university complies”, Ononuju said.
Fresh students stranded in UI
In Ibadan, OLA AJAYI, reports that strike left fresh students of the nation’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, UI, stranded as many of them could not register.
Though, older students of the institution have finished their examinations, other activities like conferences, seminars and workshops could not hold.
While speaking on the effectiveness of the strike, the ASUU chairman in the institution, Dr Olusegun Ajiboye, said no academic staff would participate in any board meeting, university seminar and conference or in the ongoing registration of the newly admitted students.
According to him, “the Federal Government refused totally to implement the agreement and to even honour the MoU that it signed with our union. Owing to this, we see it as height of insensitivity on the part of the government and the union was pushed to the wall left with no other option. We considered everything and laid everything on the table and we said the only language which this government understands is for us to press home our demand by using the last option which is strike.”
Strike disrupts exams in Ekiti State University
University teachers at Ekiti State University, EKSU, yesterday in compliance to the directive from their national leaders shunned all academic activities, reports Gbenga Ariyibi.
Some students from the Geology and Psychology departments who were billed to start their examinations were driven out of the examination halls.
Speaking, the Chairman of the institution’s ASUU, Dr. Ayan Adeleke, said there was no going back on the strike “since it was a directive from the national body. We are in total compliance; no examination. But the congress is meeting at 10am tomorrow (Today) to inform our members of the need to comply.”
Total strike in DELSU, FUPRE yet to join
EMMA AMAIZE, reports from Warri, Delta State, that the indefinite strike ordered by ASUU was not observed at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, FUPRE, Effurun, Delta State, even as there was full compliance at the Delta State University, Abraka as lecturers complied with the directive of their national body.
A source told Vanguard, “FUPRE case is a peculiar one, ASUU and other unions in the university had been at loggerheads with the National Universities Commission, NUC, and Minister of Education over the recall of their Vice Chancellor and Registrar from their accumulated/terminal leave, which was duly directed by the Governing –Council”.
“The strike by the national body of ASUU commenced Monday, December 5, same date ASUU members were supposed to resume work at FUPRE after about three weeks tango with the vice chancellor, NUC and Minister of Education.
“The work-to-rule was suspended to allow the NUC peace panel, led by Professor Alhassan Bichi to address the fundamental needs of the school and except if it is extremely important that FUPRE must join, I think that the university’s chapter of ASUU may not be in a hurry to join the national action”, the source added.
Chairman of ASUU in the university, Dr Akpofure Rim-Rukeh told Vanguard, “We will call a congress on Wednesday (tomorrow) to decide where we stand on the strike”.
UNAAB, OOU, TASUED comply
In Ogun, there was total compliance by lecturers of all the three universities in the state; University of Agriculture Abeokuta (UNAAB), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) Ijebu-Ode and Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) Ijagun, reports DAUD OLATUNJI.
Speaking, the ASUU Chairman in OOU, Adesola Nasir , described the strike as total, saying “even the students have shown understanding with the ASUU.”
At UNAAB, though the gate of the institution was opened, only few people were seen on the campus while attempt to get the ASUU Chairman was unsuccessful.
Strike total in Maiduguri
Lecturers in Maiduguri Branch of ASUU, fully complied with the indefinate strike ordered by their national body today nationwide
A release which was signed by the chairman of the institution, Dr. Usman Abubakar warned all members to ensure strict compliance.
He advised them that they should remain calm as they would be fully briefed by the union’s congress schedule for Wednesday 7th of this month.
The indefinite strike ordered by ASUU was complied with by the local chapter of the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State thereby paralyzing academic activities on campus, Samuel Oyadongha, reports.
However, the lecturers are expected to meet today to deliberate on the issue as members at the state owned institution stayed away from classrooms.
in deference to the directive of its national secretariat.
Students were seen leaving campus yesterday while the non academic staff were going about their normal business.
The ASUU chairman, NDU, Dr. Beke Tuboukiye Sese, said the decision of members to stay away from classrooms was in accordance with the directive of the national body.
He however said the institution chapter would formally meet tomorrow to on the issue even though they have already complied with the indefinite strike action which described as total.
His words, “you will recall that the union embarked on a one week warning strike on the 25th September, 2011 after all its efforts to persuade the government to honour an agreement it freely entered into with ASUU failed.
“You will also recall that soon after the notification of the unions’ decision to embark on the warning strike, government quickly convened a meeting with the principal officers of the union with a view to listen to ASUU and possibly avert the strike!
“Government requested to be given one month to address the issues but ASUU knowing the antecedents of Nigerian governments too well, gave two months! That meeting thus culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which, government undertook to resolve the contending issues not later than 22nd November, 2011.
SIMON EBEGBULEM reports from Benin that activities were crippled in the two universities in Edo state, University of Benin (UNIBEN) and the state owned Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, because of the strike.
When Vanguard visited the institutions, the classrooms were under lock and key while ASUU members were observed monitoring total compliance of the strike action
Similarly, Dayo Johnson , reports from Akure that lecturers at the Federal University of Technology Akure FUTA fully complied with the strike.
Speaking on the action, the Secretary of the institution branch of ASUU, Dr. Bola Oniya, said “strike which will be total and comprehensive will be sustained until the federal government implements in full, all the agreement it reached with the union in 2009.
“We held our congress this morning (Monday) to sensitize our members about the strike and we told them that it will be total and comprehensive.
“We asked them to stop any form of lectures, supervision of students and shun statutory meetings.”
Students interviewed expressed disappointment at the action of the federal government which led to the crisis and asked government to invite the leadership of ASUU for a fresh negotiation to resolve the imbroglio.
But at the Adekunle Ajasin University , Akungba Akoko where the ASUU members were seen supervising the on-going second examination at the school.
A lecturer who spoke in confidence said, “We will start the strike hopefully, on Friday. We wanted the students to finish their examination. Starting today will be counter-productive.”