ASUU dares FG, vows to continue strike

Semiu Salami
Semiu Salami
Dr Nasir Fagge
The Academic Staff Union of Universities has described the Federal Government’s threat to sack lecturers as “a tragedy of huge proportion for Nigeria and Africa”, warning that the move will only compound the crisis.
The union also accused the government of embarking on deliberate ploy to weaken the public universities in favour of private universities, contrary to what is stated in the Nigerian Constitution.
It however, said that it would return to the negotiation table if government shows commitment to solve the problems in the sector.
It would be recalled that the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, had at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday last week warned that any lecturer that failed to resume on or before Wednesday, would be sacked.
Wike also told the vice-chancellors to open attendance register for lecturers to indicate their resumption date.
But the ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagae, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday said no amount of blackmail or intimidation would force the lecturers to return to the classroom.
In his statement entitled ‘Misrepresentations and intimidation: How not to manage the crisis in the university system’, Fagae said a serious government should be ashamed of the rot in the universities which the union had been struggling to tackle.

He assured that “the strike will end when government implements the agreement as we agreed with President Goodluck Jonathan. “He gave us assurance that in 2014, the agreement will not be renegotiated just as he had promised us when we interacted with him in that 13-hour duration. We thank Mr. President for his patience but let us also do what is right.”

ASUU requested in its meeting with President Jonathan, that he should facilitate the resolution of the issues as a way of concretizing their understanding of the agreed position.

The agreed positions, Fagge said are that the N200 billion agreed upon as 2013 revitalisation fund for public universities shall be deposited with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and disbursed to the benefitting universities within two weeks; that the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement in 2014 be included in the final document as agreed at the discussion with Jonathan.

Others are that a non –victimisation clause which is normally captured in all interactions of this nature be included in the final document and that a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) shall be validly endorsed, signed by a representative of government, preferably the Attorney General of the Federation and a representative of ASUU, with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as a witness.

To further justify ASUU’s request to Jonathan, Faggesaid: “Upon any sincere stretch of interpretation, it would be unreasonable to suggest that this is a new demand. ASUU National Executive Council’s position that the funds for revitalisation due to universities in 2013 should be released within the first two weeks of December 2013 is not a new demand. It is a sensible suggestion to guard against implementation failure.

“On the renegotiation of the agreement in 2014, there was an agreement at the interaction with the President of Nigeria that the renegotiation of the ASUU/FG agreement of 2009 shall be undertaken in 2014.”

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