Universities now to reopen Dec. 9 •ASUU ranks broken

Posted by News Express | 11 December 2013 | 4,732 times

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The deadline for striking university lecturers to resume work has been extended from today to next week Monday, December 9. Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, announced the new date yesterday amid indications that the ranks of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have become broken.

The NUC scribe told journalists in Abuja that the federal government “decided to shift the deadline after it received notification of Prof. Festus Iyayi’s funeral rites slated for between December 5 and 7.

Iyayi, a former ASUU President, died on November 12 in auto crash in Lokoja on his way to attend the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Kano.

“We just received information that the burial rites of Festus Iyayi begins on December 5 and would last till December 7. Based on this information, government decided to shift the resumption deadline to December 9, to enable lecturers to participate in the burial,” Okojie said.

He disclosed that the directive had been communicated to the various universities Governing Councils and Vice Chancellors for onward transmission to the academic staff.

Okojie said there was no intention to victimise any lecturer for participating in the strike. He said the victimisation clause which members of ASUU were using to discredit the government never came up when the unionists met with President Goodluck Jonathan on November 4.

Expressing displeasure over the continuation of the strike, now in its sixth month, Okojie said: “On November 4, Jonathan had a meeting with ASUU. In attendance were senior government officials, the Ministers of Labour, Finance, Education, NLC, TUC, SGF, Chief of Staff to the President and a host of others.

“I recall the remarks Mr President made that day that something has to happen, that all parties had to find solution to the nagging problems of our universities. ASUU came out from that meeting which lasted for over 13 hours, to say they would communicate with us through their principal officers. Let me also emphasise that the drafting of that communique had the input of ASUU.”

The NUC scribe wondered why ASUU would return three weeks later, after it had failed to get back to government on November 8 as agreed, demanding addition of new clauses.

“The 2009 agreement stipulates that any party that wants a re-negotiation should inform the Ministry of Labour. If ASUU had said they would resume, but the outstanding issues must be addressed, government would have no choice,” he stated.

On the N200 billion Revitalisation Fund which ASUU wanted government to disburse within two weeks, Okojie said the money had been deposited in an account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He, however, explained that the money could not be disbursed based on ASUU’s demand because it was meant for capital projects.

While, ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, had on Monday declared that the strike would continue until the union’s demands were met, lecturers yesterday returned to the classrooms at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU).

The strike had started to weaken of late, with the Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai (IBBUL), Adamawa State University and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko in Ondo State, pulling out of the strike, with Enugu State University (ESUT) at the verge of following suit.

At the same time, the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Lagos State University (LASU) initiated plans to conduct degree and matriculation examinations outside their campuses, even as UNILAG, LASU and the University of Jos (UNIJOS) scheduled to conduct the post-UTME examinations. The Abia State University (ABSU) had earlier conducted its post-UTME examinations.

•Photo shows NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Julius Okojie.

Source: News Express

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