THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday extended its one-month warning strike by another two months for failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands.
ASUU president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, who announced this in Abuja after an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union, said the roll-over strike commenced by 12.01 a.m. on Monday.
But the Federal Government said it had met all the demands of the union, based on the agreement reached with the leadership during negotiation meetings.
Minister of State for Education, Honourable Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, while reacting to the announcement of the extension of strike by ASUU shortly after the 2022 Commonwealth Day celebration held at the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Abuja, said the government met with the union and had done all the union asked for.
He said: “We and ASUU have met and we agreed about everything. So, if they choose to extend the strike for two months, we have announced already that everything they have said, we have done all of them.”
The one-month warning strike embarked upon by ASUU on February 14 ended yesterday [Sunday].
The strike was to protest the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement and other Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) reached by the Federal Government, including the release of revitalisation fund for public universities, payment of earned academic allowances, adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Osodeke, in a statement made available to newsmen on the outcome of the NEC meeting held on Sunday at the national secretariat, Abuja, described the Federal Government’s response so far as a “continuation of the unconscionable, mindless and nonchalant attitude of the Nigerian ruling elite towards the proven path of national development which is education.”
He said NEC of ASUU, having taken reports on the engagements of the trustees and principal officers with the government, concluded that government had failed to satisfactorily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) within the fourweek roll-over strike period.
He said the NEC, therefore, resolved that the strike be rolled over for another eight weeks, to give government more time to address all the issues in concrete terms so that the students would resume as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has said it would hold an emergency meeting of its national executive officers today to take a position on the next line of action. NANS president, Sunday Asefon, told Nigerian Tribune in Abuja that the students’ body had appealed to both ASUU and the Federal Government to ensure amicable resolution of the disagreement for students to return to their campuses.
Expressing worries over the development, the vice-chancellors of public universities in the country and the parents described the strike extension as a sad development.
The vice-chancellors and the parents, under the aegis of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU), as well as the National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), said the Federal Government should have, by all means, averted even the initial one-month warning strike by ASUU, let alone allowing the action to be extended again by two months.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune in separate interviews on Monday, chairman of CVCNU and Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, and the NAPTAN’s national president, Haruna Danjuma, said though there was no time they were in support of ASUU embarking on strike, as such action would certainly disrupt academic calendar and have serious adverse consequences, particularly on students and Nigeria’s future, they expected that both ASUU and the Federal Government to have resolved their differences before the one-month warning strike elapsed.
They said students are always at the receiving end of industrial actions by their teachers. While CVCNU’s chairman acknowledged the relevance of ASUU’s demands to quality service in Nigerian university system and its products, he said the position of the vice-chancellors remains the same, which is for ASUU to give government more time to address the issues at stake.
Danjuma, on his part, said ASUU is fighting a just cause as all the academics in the public universities are all affected by the issues they put to the table, but then, they need to give the government more time to address them.