Amidst ASUU Strike, UNIABUJA Begins Lectures

Amidst ASUU Strike, UNIABUJA Begins Lectures :

The government ordered the lecturers to resume work on or before December 9.

The ultimatum issued by the federal government to striking university lecturers to resume work lapses on Monday with the lecturers defiling the government’s directive.

Public university lecturers across Nigeria have been on a nationwide strike since July 1, initially demanding the full implementation of a 2009 agreement between the lecturers (Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU) and the federal government.

Following months of negotiations between the two sides, the lecturers met with President Goodluck Jonathan in November leading to the lecturers shifting ground amidst some concessions from the federal government.

Part of the agreement reached at the meeting was the increased funding to universities beginning from a N200 billion intervention fund in 2013. ASUU wants the money released to the universities within two weeks while the federal government through a presidential aide, Doyin Okupe, presented evidence that the process of making the payment to the universities had begun through the Central Bank.

The lecturers also want a non-victimisation clause included in the final agreement with the president; as well as the commencement of re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement in 2014, as discussed with the president.

However, the federal government, through the Education Minister, Nyesom Wike, on November 28 gave ASUU a week ultimatum to call off the strike; else there would be mass sack of the non-complying lecturers. Though the ultimatum was to end on December 4, the National Universities Commission boss, Julius Okojie, announced its extension to December 9.

“Government decided to shift the deadline after it received notification of Prof. Festus Iyayi’s funeral rites slated for between December 5 and 7,” Mr. Okojie said.

ASUU has vowed to ignore the government’s ultimatum with many lecturers describing it as a ‘joke.’

“I see this whole thing as a joke and I dare say it is not even worth my comments. We just keep our fingers crossed and watch. I still emphasise that such ultimatum is a display of insensitivity and a huge joke,” Oyelowo Oyewo, a Law Professor at the University of Lagos said.

However, some university lecturers have heeded the government’s directive as directed by the university management.

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the University of Abuja on Friday, few students were seen on campus while most lecture halls remained empty.

The Departments of Banking and Finance, Asian Studies, Accounting, and Business Administration are some of the departments were few lectures held.

Samaja James, a student of the Department of Banking and Finance, said she had attended some lectures.

”At least we have received three lectures this week, the first was on Monday, the second on Wednesday, and the third Friday so we are done for the week’,” she said.

A lecturer at the department, Ayeni Bola, explained his reason for resuming lectures despite the ASUU strike.

”We (ASUU) met with the President and there were some conditions and so we on our part have decided to respect the President by resuming, now its left for the President to keep to his words,

”The President cannot say we will not attend to you till you resume and we on our own part cannot say we will not resume till we are attended to so we cannot continue like this,” ‘he said.

Another student who attended lectures at the Department of Asian Studies, Haruna Mohammed, told PREMIUM TIMES that ASUU’s actions are for its interest and not those of students.

“I want to believe that ASUU does not have the interest of the student at heart; that’s why most of us decided to resume despite the few of us who stayed back at home.

”We are the ones feeling it, not them, not their kids. I mean most us have plans for the future and staying at home is not helping matters. That’s why we are here for the lecturers that are ready to (lecture),” he said.

The government is expected to announce a decision later today on its lapsed ultimatum.