News: Strike Continues, Says ASUU

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University teachers said yesterday that their strike will go on – 89 days after it began.

This is in spite of the intervention by Vice President Namadi Sambo in bringing the lecturers back to the negotiation table.

The teachers are seeking proper funding of education and the payment of their N87 billion earned allowances.

These are part of the 2009 agreement between the teachers and the government. The government has offered N30 billion for the earned allowances and made available N100billion for projects on the campuses. The lecturers rejected the offer. The strike has been on since July 1.

The latest position of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the umbrella association of the teachers to go on with the strike, was made known yesterday by University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter Chairman Dr. Karo Ogbinika, in a statement.

According to him, ASUU last month pulled out of the negotiation with the Federal Government, which was represented by Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam, based on the government’s insincerity and non-commitment.

He said the Presidency intervened, calling for another round of meetings with Vice President Namadi Sambo last week which, according to ASUU, also ended in a stalemate.

The union said it was disappointed because it hoped the Presidency’s intervention would dampen the tension the strike had generated; but, rather, the government was re-echoing the same stance by Suswam, which was why ASUU withdrew from the negotiation.

ASUU said: “After the meeting on September 19 with the Vice-President, it is clear that the Federal Government is merely paying lip service to education in Nigeria and deceiving the public on its commitment to its transformation agenda.

“The Nigerian people should not be deceived. How can there be a meaningful transformation when the education sector is neglected and gradually taken over by private entrepreneurs, including government functionaries who are busy bulding private universities with stolen funds in and outside Nigeria. Can these universities be truly called private?

“ASUU is assuring Nigerians that it will not back out in its struggle to ensure that the government is made to do what is right in the education sector. This is a commitment that all members of the union have vowed to pursue to its logical conclusion.”

The union said it had reported back to its various zones many of which still insisted the strike must continue.”

Hundreds of students of Bayero University, Kano (BUK) yesterday gave the Federal Government a one week ultimatum to meet all the demands of ASUU or face the wrath of students.

The students, who staged a peaceful protest, urged the Federal Government to respect and implement the 2009 ASUU/FG agreement.

Addressing the protesters at the BUK gate, the university’s Students Union President, Sani Ibrahim, said they were forced to stage the protest, “because we are tired of staying at home”. “Our mates in other countries are in school; why should the case of Nigerian students be different?”

“As part of the struggle to fight for our right is being pursued, I will like to salute our students for their patience while receiving the negative consequences of bad governance. We believe that the delay in resuming lectures in our universities is not only lamentable but also devastating. We believe even more strongly that now is the time to let our leaders know that enough is enough and we shall wake up and say ‘no’ to injustice being meted out to Nigerian students.

“We also call on the government to review the annual budget for the education sector from eight per cent to 26 per cent, so as to ensure adequate rehabilitation of infrastructure in our universities, including hostels, laboratories, potable water and constant supply of electricity.

“We are calling on ASUU to give government more opportunity to dialogue so as to quickly resolve the differences in the best interest of Nigerian students. We are giving ASUU and the Federal Government one week to sort things out and resume lectures; otherwise Nigerian students will look for other alternatives to fight for our right. Education is our right and no one should take it away from us,” Ibrahim noted.

But for the intervention of the police, who pleaded with the protesting students, they would have taken to the streets.

ASUU members at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) insisted yesterday that they would not return to work, until the Federal Government resolves the issues.

This was contrary to a report that the management was already consulting with the striking lecturers on the need to call back the students by end of this month.

The union urged Vice-Chancellor Prof. Femi Mimiko to toe the path of rule of law and refrain from any desperate act of self-help in his attempt to reopen the university.

In a statement by their counsel, Mr. Charles Titiloye, the union noted with great concern the threat by the vice-chancellor to re-open the University for academic activities, despite of the strike.

The union warned that it would not allow contract lecturers or newly employed graduate fellows to be used to resume teaching in the school.

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