By IKENNA ASOMBA
Barely 48 hours after President Goodluck Jonathan engaged the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in a marathon 13-hour closed door meeting, in a bid to end the union’s four-month old strike, Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that officials of the Federal Ministry of Education have been directed to commence processes for the re-opening of federal universities.
Investigations revealed that governing councils and vice chancellors of the universities have been specifically directed, via direct communication from the National Universities Commission, NUC, to take immediate steps to ensure that their institutions are in the right position to receive students immediately the strike is called off.
Sources at the NUC said that the vice-chancellors were also directed to protect the interest of students and parents henceforth and ensure that no one takes advantage of the ugly situation.
Before the strike which commenced on July 1, almost all public universities were in their second semesters and had less than two months to conduct examinations. As the strike lingered, final year students in the universities had their hopes dashed for mobilization in the Batch C set of the compulsory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme.
According to officials of the NYSC, their counterparts in private universities have already resumed at their various camps last Tuesday. What this means is that, if eventually the strike is called-off, any time from now, public universities will have to re-adjust their 2012/2013 academic calendar to enable their final year students get mobilized for national service in the next batch, come February 2014.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Vice Chancellor one of the Federal Universities in the South-West, who craved anonymity, disclosed that his university is yet to receive any circular from the Ministry of Education on a specific date of resumption, but noted that the university is eager to resume as soon as possible.
He said: “I have not received any circular from the Ministry of Education on any specific date of resumption. When we get any, we will call back students to resume studies without delay, as we are eager to resume once the matter is resolved between ASUU and Federal Government.”
Asked what situation in the university has been like in the last four months, he said: “You can guess what has happened in the last four months. We have not functioned to 100 per cent capacity. Teaching and learning have been put on hold, but research and all other administrative functions have continued. Within the last four months, we have been sending and receiving proposals.”