The leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may have relocated from Abuja to their various campuses in readiness for expected crackdown following threats from the Federal Government that the lecturers resume or face sack.
Sources in Abuja told our correspondent on Friday that President Goodluck Jonathan may no longer be directly involved in negotiation with the lecturers because he is angry with ASUU leaders for what the source described as contempt for the office of the President, ASUU’s decision to issue new conditions and their alleged backing by some external forces.
An inside source told our correspondent on Friday that the decision to henceforth exclude President Jonathan from further direct negotiation with ASUU is to preserve the Office of the President. “We are trying to insulate the Office of the President from further negotiation with ASUU if at all the union will allow such or there will be room for such.
“We think relevant ministers and the Committee of Pro-Chancellors/Vice-Chancellors should be able to handle the rest of the talks/negotiation.”
Investigation revealed that after spending almost a week in Abuja for the resumption of talks, the ASUU leaders were left with no option but to go back to their various campuses, disappointed that in spite of the fact that they had avoided making the negotiation talks a media affair, the Federal Government bungled the opportunity to wrap it up.
“Our leaders have returned to their campuses. They were disappointed with the Area Boy or Agbero method adopted by the Minister. The military style of the Minister of State for Education will only compound the situation.
“So, we are back to our trenches as it was the situation during the military era. We are ready for the worst now. If the situation becomes uncontrollable, we will also go underground and resort to guerilla tactics,” a source who does not want his name revealed told our correspondent in Abuja.
Another source, a senior government official disclosed to our correspondent that part of the strategy being deployed by the government to break the resolve of the ASUU leaders is to level sabotage allegation against the lecturers if they remain unyielding and the strike paralyses universities. “We hope that they will not overreach their bounds, because what they have done in the last four months amounted to economic sabotage.
“If they continue to take the law into their hands by paralysing activities in the universities, we may try them for economic sabotage. This is also the extreme end the government may go too.
“Let them study the enabling laws to see what they have been violating. We are not yet disposed to wielding the big stick, but if the government is pushed to the wall, it will invoke relevant laws to manage the situation. We are waiting for what they will do,” the source hinted.
NewMailNG gathered at the weekend that top ASUU leaders may have been placed under security watch. “All the security agencies have been directed to protect lives and property on all the campuses nationwide, especially in the universities that have reopened. Union leaders are also under watch to prevent recourse to self-help, which may lead to wanton destruction of property.
“The government will not tolerate any intimidation or harassment, and any violent union leader risks being arrested. But those who restrict themselves to the confines of the law have nothing to fear.”