The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has accused the supervising minister of education, Nyesom Wike, of displaying ignorance by threatening that any university lecturer that fails to resume work by November 4 would be replaced. The Chairman of the University of Ibadan, UI, chapter of the union, Olusegun Ajiboye, said this during a rally held at the campus on Sunday to sensitise members of the need to ignore the government’s attempt to force them to abandon their five-month-old strike.
He said the minister’s statement shows that he does not understand the process it takes to recruit a teaching staff into the university. According to him, the university system has a standing process of recruiting its teachers which often takes a whole session, at the least.
“It means that the federal government was designing a plan to keep students at home till the middle of next year after which recruitment may have been completed,” he said. Mr. Ajiboye, who led about 200 UI lecturers on the protest, accused the Federal Government of misplacing its priorities. He said the handling of the strike portrays the Nigerian government as insincere and one without clear vision.
“It shows cluelessness in those leading us. The same police that has not been able to stop kidnapping, armed robbery, oil theft, or arrest corrupt politicians now becomes a tool of democratic oppression in the hands of our policy makers. “They will all fail. Will the police come to the campuses with new hostels, laboratories, lecture rooms, Internet or what does Wike mean they will provide enabling environment.
It is important for him to know that apart from politicians no Nigerian worker has an enabling working environment,” Mr. Ajiboye stated. After receiving a letter that was addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan by ASUU, the minister had accused the lecturers of making fresh demands after its leaders had reached an agreement with the President during a meeting he held with them in early November.
Mr. Wike said the ‘new demands’ were frivolous and directed the management of Federal Universities across the country to ensure that their teaching staff resume work on November 4 or get them replaced.
In compliance with the directive, the managements of some universities, such as the University of Nigeria Nsukka, have ordered their lecturers to resume on Monday. But, Mr. Ajiboye while speaking to the press said that the union has not made any new demands that warranted the outburst from the minister.
He described as waste of personnel the deployment of police officer to the university campuses to ensure compliance to the order; saying the lecturers would not call off the strike, which started on July 1, until the issues are resolved. While saying the police suffer infrastructure deficit which is evident in their barracks nationwide, Mr. Ajiboye said lecturers are not Boko Haram terrorists that Nigerians are asking government to tame without success.
According to him, only the implementation of the FGN/ASUU resolutions could create enabling environment in the universities, and not deployment of police.
As early as 7 a.m., members of the academia converged on the UI entrance gate car park, picking their branded T Shirt with the message of saving public education. The shirts carried various inscriptions such as “Walk out the Beasts in our system”, “Work out and work to save public education”, “FG walk the path of honour”, and “Annulment of agreements a comedy of errors.”
Members also distributed fliers asking their members to be fearless and not to break the strike.
Some of the messages on the fliers include, “The Modern Strike breaker sells his birthright, his union, his wife, his children and his fellow man for an unfulfilled promise from his employer or corrupt benefactor”.
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