by ‘Ifreke Inyang
For 42 working days, activities in every major tertiary institution were put on hold as ASUU went on strike. In that period of time, the union and the federal government went into dialogue. Here are some of the soundbites that we read as the negotiations went on and eventually the strike was suspended.
“The impact of successive strikes is evident in our education sector. Our tertiary education system no longer has the luxury of time for long vacation, not to talk of indefinite strike. The situation where the system is shut down successively is making us to adjust to disorderliness.”
– The Vice-Chancellor of Caleb University, Imota, Lagos State, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, recalling the cancellation of an academic calendar year of the University of Lagos in 1993 due to the adverse effect of the strike.
“The union is concerned about quick resolution of the issues and the resumption of academic activities in the universities. I am optimistic that the union will make its stand known before mid- February. We have taken the outcome of the Abuja meeting to the National Executive Committee of the union after which we shall also be taking it to our congress and various state branches. We are working on this seriously with all sense of urgency and the fact that we are consulting with all the stakeholders shows that we are interested in ending the strike within the shortest possible time.”
– ASUU President, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria about discussions that were ongoing with the various stakeholders on the offers.
“Based on what we have done so far, the strike may be called off. Today as you have seen, we have met. We have made progress and of course we are still talking. Even tomorrow (today) at 10am, we have another meeting with ASUU. So, we are making progress.”
– Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqqayattu Rufai, debunking media reports that she had promised a quick end to the strike.
“We are working seriously to make sure that we resolve the issues that have arisen from the strike. We have made progress. We believe that at the end of full discussions on this strike, we will come to a conclusion that will be more lasting than the previous ones.”
– Labour and Productivity Minister, Chief Emeka Wogu, expressing optimism that ongoing negotiations would end with more concrete resolutions on January 24, 2012.
“NEC members had to convince itself that if we accept federal government position on trust, the union will not be disappointed again. We had to look at the commitment of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Senate Committee Chairman on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, House of Representatives Committee chairman on Education, Hon Farouk Lawan and the Ministers of Education and Labour, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai and Chief Emeka Wogu. We took their decision to implement our demands on faith. If they implement what we agreed, we will begin to see changes in the universities. State government must fund their universities, they should not wait on the federal government. Part of the agreement is that the National Universities Commission (NUC) will monitor the state institutions to ensure the implementation of what was agreed. At the end of the struggle, there is no victor, no vanquish. We were not at war, it ended on a good note and if they keep to the agreement, the university system will be better for it.”
– The National President of the union, Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie, telling the Daily Sun that every NEC meeting of ASUU had always been tough because ‘we are dealing with intellectuals, who will ask questions, it is not easy to manage such group of people. Our last NEC’s deliberation was tough, it started from 8pm on Tuesday and lasted till 7am on Wednesday. Our discussion was hinged on whether to trust the Federal Government to implement the issues in contention.’
“We were not agitating for salary increase rather it was all about the betterment of the system.”
– The UNILAG ASUU chairman, Dr. Oghenekaro Ogbinaka, insisting that the union came out better in the struggle.