Varsities to remain closed as ASUU mourns Iyayi

Semiu Salami
Semiu Salami
Prof. Iyayi

University students may have to endure some more days of their lecturers’ strike, as the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which would have reviewed the strike, was postponed indefinitely yesterday.

This was to enable the teachers mourn ASUU’s one-time President Festus Iyayi, a University of Benin (UNIBEN) professor, who was killed in an accident involving the convoy of Kogi State Governor Idris Wada on the Lokoja-Abuja highway on Tuesday.

Iyayi was travelling along with other ASUU officials to Kano enroute Abuja when the accident occurred. He died on the spot.

Teachers who converged on Bayero University Kano (BUK) left yesterday for their homes as ASUU President Nasir Fagge announced the indefinite suspension of the meeting.

‘’You (journalists) have to bear with us because we are in a mourning mood over the loss of one of us, who was a strong pillar,” Fagge declared.

A student, who preferred not to be named, expressed sadness over the development. ‘’We are not happy with the situation because we have overstayed at home,’’ the student said.

Another urged ASUU to fix a new date for the meeting in order to resolve the lingering crisis.

‘’We are not really happy but since it is the death of their member, they were right to have suspended the meeting.

‘’But we thought they would fix a new date for the meeting before leaving the venue,’’ he added.

But there appears to be a crack in the ranks of ASUU, 24 hours after the lecturers’ union was hit by the tragedy of Iyayi’s death. The Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU), Lapai, Niger State may have pulled out of the strike.

The university management directed that the institution be re-opened on Monday.

Our correspondent gathered that IBBU Senate debated the outcome of the congress of the local chapter of ASUU, which was said to favour the calling off of the strike and resolving to re-open the campus for academic activities.

A member of IBBU ASUU chapter, who spoke to our reporter on the telephone, said the union members voted that the strike be called off, but with the promise that their decision would not override the NEC’s resolution. He said the management relied on the congress decision and ordered resumption.

Another member of the union said: “Yes, we have been asked to resume on Monday and the campus is being prepared for re-opening. The university management took the decision in line with agreement of members that were present at the ASUU congress we held on Monday.”

Asked if the local ASUU was consulted before the decision was reached, the source responded: “I cannot confirm this but what I am sure of is that lectures will start on Monday.”

However, IBBU ASUU Chairman Dr Aliyu Badeggi described the directive by Vice Chancellor Prof Ibrahim Kolo as mischievous. He said there was no decision on the strike from the national executive, adding that there was no way IBBU would pull out of the action it was a party to.

He said: “How can IBBU pull out of the strike when the NEC has not ordered it should be called off? You should have known that the Vice Chancellor is being mischievous and playing to the gallery. There is no final decision on resumption because we voted to be part of the strike and we will remain a party to the action, until NEC meeting decides we should resume. So, don’t believe what the management has said; IBBU is in full strike.”

The university’s Director of Information, Sule Shehu, said the resumption directive was the decision of the institution’s Senate and not the VC’s.

He said: “It is true that students have been asked to resume by the Senate of the university, which is made up of lecturers, Heads of Departments, Deans of faculties, professors and directors of units. All these people took the decision in a majority vote and not the personal decision of the vice chancellor.”

Asked if the local ASUU chapter was contacted, Shehu said there was no way the wishes of a few would override the agreement of the majority, dismissing Badeggi’s opinion as “minority view”.

The university also released an adjusted calendar to make up for the lost period so as to complete the second semester.

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