by Isi Esene
The face-off between the Federal Government and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) may have taken another twist as the former is making plans to railroad the striking lecturers back to the classrooms.
University lecturers had embarked on an indefinite strike in July after accusing the FG of reneging on their promise of, among other things, injecting funds into the education sector. The lecturers had given stringent conditions for their return to classes demanding a payment of the four-month salary arrears of its members from July and the release of N200 billion that President Goodluck Jonathan promised to inject into the university system within the next two weeks.
The FG had countered these demands by ordering the lecturers back to school by Wednesday, December 4, reportedly directing the Inspector General of Police to make adequate preparations to forestall any form of violence which may ensue as the directive is being obeyed by willing lecturers.
According to reports, the FG delegation had met on Friday with vice-chancellors of Federal Universities to fashion out a way of ensuring that its directive is followed by their respective institutions.
The meeting which reportedly had the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) boss, Julius Okojie in attendance deliberated on replacing the striking lecturers with new ones and opening a register in institutions so that members that resume work would indicate by signing and those who fail to do so may be shown the way out.
Read the 10 things we gleaned from the deliberations below:
– There was an emergency meeting on Friday convened by the Federal Government and held with all vice-chancellors of federal universities at the National Universities Commission building in Abuja. The Acting Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, and the Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof Julius Okojie, were at the meeting.
– The FG has directed the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to deploy policemen to all federal universities in the country in its bid to ensure resumption of academic activities on or before December 4.
– To confirm this directive, the Police Public Relations Officer in Enugu, Ebere Amaraizu, said its men had been directed to man universities in the state to quell any protest that might result from the Federal Government’s order on lecturers to resume work on or before Wednesday.
– The Friday meeting which took place in Abuja began at 9am and lasted for two hours. Part of the meeting’s deliberations, also centred on how to recruit new lecturers to fill the space of ASUU members who might refuse to obey government’s directive. NUC boss, Julius Okojie was reportedly mandated to start the process of recruiting new lecturers by placing vacancy adverts in international journals and media.
– There are indications that vice-chancellors have been directed to call students back to campus by tomorrow in preparation for academic activities which should start early next week.
– The vice-chancellors were directed to open registers in their institutions where ASUU members that resume work would sign so that those who failed to resume could be shown the way out.
– Reports say that the Federal Government was planning to adopt the Ghanaian method where lecturers were asked to re-apply for their jobs after a prolonged period of downing tools.
– It was revealed that Nigerian universities are currently in need of about 30,000 lecturers due to the shortage of lecturers in the university system.
– December 4 is a decisive day between the FG and striking university lecturers as the date had been set aside by ASUU to bury Prof. Festus Iyayi, a former President of the union who died in an accident on his way to a meeting in Kano. Iyayi had died on the Abuja-Lokoja road when the car he was travelling in collided with the convoy of the governor of Kogi, Idris Wada on Novermber 12.
Members of the Union had quickly made a decision to suspend its proposed NEC meeting indefinitely to honour the memory of the late professor.
– The University of Nigeria (UNN) chapter of ASUU yesterday said its members would not resume work until their demands are met. The UNN-ASUU also described the Minister of Education, Wike, as a “tout”.
“We have not heard from the President, so we cannot speak officially on the matter. It would be senseless to begin to react to a statement from Wike since he is a tout,” said Dr. Ifeanyi Abada, Chairman of UNN-ASUU had said.
Well, where do we go from here. Your guess is as good as ours. It is however, imperative that the two parties immediately find a way out of this impasse so as not to keeps students at home unnecessarily.