As the Federal Government’s ultimatum to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to resume work terminates today, the teachers may not return to classes soon.
A source close to the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union said there was no communication yet from the central body of the union to other local branches.
“Nobody can intimidate us over our genuine strike. No local chapter is ready to go back to classes as at today. Our union is focused and we work by rules and regulations,” the source said.
The source said ASUU did not close schools; it only said its members would not go to classes. He said that if the vice chancellors thought they could, open schools without teachers, they should go ahead as they deemed fit.
Last week, a Presidential Adviser, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said the Federal Government deposited N200 billion in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
But the source said that ASUU was yet to confirm that the funds were actually in the CBN as claimed by Okupe.
“As a body, ASUU is yet to be informed officially about the said deposited fund into the coffers of the Federal Government”, the source said.
The branch of ASUU at the Bayero University, Kano, has said that the union is ever prepared to dare the Federal Government.
The Federal Government had earlier shifted the day for ASUU to resume work from December 4 to 9 to allow the union bury its former President, Prof. Festus Iyayi who was killed in an accident on his way to Kano for the teachers’ meeting. The Chairman of ASUU-BUK, Dr. Mahmud Lawal, told The Guardian on phone yesterday that ASUU would not be intimidated to withdraw from the ongoing strike. Mahmud insisted that “our position still remains hence the strike is ongoing and we do not panic over the position of government to sack us”.
However, our correspondent confirmed that a logbook has already been opened at all departmental offices compelling academic members of staff to register.
When asked on the reaction of ASUU to this development, Mahmud denied knowledge of such a book. The university’s Public Relations Officer, Muhammed Zaharadeen, insisted that BUK had always remained open even in the absence of academic activities.
On how prepared was the management to start normal academic and administrative activities in the university, Zaharadeen maintained: “I would not want to comment on that and any matter that has to do with ASUU. I will not also want to say anything about that.”
Besides, the Delta State University (DELSU) chapter of ASUU yesterday accused the Federal Government of not being transparent over Okupe’s claim.
The ASUU-DELSU chairman, Dr. Emmanuel N. Mordi, told The Guardian on phone that the Federal Government was merely playing to the gallery over Okupe’s media announcement that N200 billion had been deposited in the CBN.
He said: “As far as ASUU is concerned, there is no evidence so far that such deposit has been made at CBN. I think the government is merely playing to the gallery in order to make the public see ASUU as inhumane, which is not fair.”
Mordi, who described Okupe’s announcement as propaganda, said if the money had actually been deposited in the CBN, government would have invited the ASUU leaders to verify the claims so that the appropriate structures would be established to manage the fund and the strike called off.
He described the threats of sack, opening of registers, deployment of the armed forces in university by government as undemocratic.
The ASUU-DELSU chairman said: “Not even in pre-1917 Czarist Russia were such bare-faced autocracy and arrogance of power so flaunted. It is even more worrisome that these panic measures being chanted as solutions by the government were tried and found wanting in the not-too-distant past of our history
“By its actions, government is attempting to repudiate the recent Memorandum of Understanding of November 4, 2013 by mere subterfuge. It is clear that government, as usual, had no intention of implementing the latest agreement, and of restoring normalcy to public universities. We cannot allow the government to succeed in this escapist ploy. It has a duty to revitalise Nigeria’s public universities.
“For far too long, the Nigerian government has paid lip service to the revitalisation of public universities which in a clear reversal of their status up to the early ‘80s now rank among the least in the world. All Nigerians of goodwill should prevail on the Federal Government to conclude its commendable conciliatory meeting with ASUU by endorsing its November 4, 2013 Memorandum of Understanding so that our dear students can resume their interrupted academic activities without delay.
“For now, it will be foolhardy for any student to return to any campus for lectures which are non-existent. No lecturer will teach at the point of bayonet. The strike is for the provision of teaching/learning/laboratory and hostel facilities for students.”
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