The federal government is currently under intense pressure to rescind its threat to sack university teachers who may refuse to resume work across the nation, next Monday, as it has directed. Saturday Mirror reliably gathered from a top official within the Federal Ministry of Education, yesterday, that some prominent Nigerians have been speaking with the Presidency not to carry out the threat.
The source who pleaded anonymity said that one of those talking to the Presidency over the threat is an opinion leader from the Niger Delta area of the country. The opinion leader, the source said, warned that any attempt to carry out the threat would only escalate the tension that had continued to build over the demand of the lecturers.
He said a similar opinion was held by some lecturers who had spoken with the ministry over the issue. He said the example of University of Ilorin where 49 lecturers were sacked during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001, was cited, arguing that “the action may result in litigation, which the court may validate or not.”
He added that the lecturers further argued that their colleagues who are bent on continuing the strike would have no choice but to also resume when they see others beginning work.
Said the source: “Prominent Nigerians have been appealing to us to rescind the decision in the interest of peace in the sector. If you conduct public opinion poll in the country, you will see that more people support the sack threat because Nigerians are tired of the strike.
I am telling you that some of the university teachers have been saying we should not effect the sack since some of the universities are already resuming, believing their colleagues would be forced to go back into classrooms.”
The official however kept mum over the applicability of International Labour Act and Convention which protects labour during industrial actions. Supervising Minister of Education, Barr. Nyeson Wike, had, a forthnight ago ordered the lecturers back to class, failure of which, he said, they would be sacked on December 4.
He also directed management of respective institutions to, among others, announce vacancies of whoever flouted the directive.
Perhaps a deliberate attempt to allow ASUU more time to meet its members and also bury their former president, Festus Iyayi, who died in a road accident when the convoy of Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada, rammed into his Sports Utility Vehicle about a month ago, or a guise to veil the ineffectuality of its threat, the federal government extended the take-off date for its threat to Monday, December 9.
The media have been awash with calls on both ASUU and the federal government to sheath their swords in the interest of the students of various universities affected by the strike.
Source: National Mirror
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