As the nationwide strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) enters its second week, it has insisted that the only condition for calling off the strike is for the federal government to honour their 2009 GFN/ASUU agreement.
The union President, Dr Nasir Fagge Isa, made known the union’s stand on the strike, yesterday, in Abuja.
Speaking at the review of President Jonathan’s report on education, agriculture and transportation organised by Civil Society Forum, he said that the only way forward was for the government to do the right thing.
Isa said, “Whether the strike will continue or be called off is dependent on government’s decision. If the government does what is right, I assure you that we will call off the strike immediately, we will look at what government have and we will review the situation”.
Reacting to the federal government’s claims that the strike lacks decorum, he said, “We don’t have to inform anybody that we are taking an action when it becomes clear to us that what we are doing cannot make any headway. We looked at all the options available before embarking on the strike.
“I must remind you that a strike is a fundamental right of a worker, if it becomes clear to a worker that the dialogue with his employer is becoming the dialogue of the deaf and dump, the worker has the right to withdraw his services, that is a fundamental right, it is enshrined in the ILO conventions and it is part of the right of Nigerian citizens.
“We have realised that each time we reached an agreement with the government, it finds it difficult to faithfully implement the provisions of the agreement and that is the reason why our members nationwide advised that we just go back to the trenches.
“You should ask the government, out of the nine provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we had how many have been implemented.
“Of all the problems identified in the Need Assessment report, how many have been implemented? Our universities are still the way they are, we don’t want to continue deceiving ourselves. We expect that dialogue should produce results, we have been dialoguing for one and half years and we are tired of doing that, we want actions”, he insisted.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’I, on Monday appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to suspend its current strike and “go back to classes.”
Rufa’I, who made the appeal at a meeting with vice-chancellors of Nigerian universities in Abuja said: “we plead with them to go back to classes.
“We are having a meeting tomorrow at the National Assembly with the Senate and House of Representatives to resolve all the issues.
“Besides, the white paper on the 2010 Visitation Panel Reports on Federal Universities has since been released and forwarded to the universities for implementation.
“Consequently, monitoring teams will soon visit the universities to ensure implementation of the recommendations.’’
The minister noted with dismay that many private and state universities were yet to establish effective governance structures and that the development had grave implications for the running and development of the universities.
She noted that the issue of the award of honorary degrees to undeserving personalities remained an embarrassment to government.
Rufa’I said the Federal Government was disturbed by the continuous establishment of universities and running of programmes without regard to due process.
The minister advised those culpable to desist from such acts which were capable of inflicting injury on the university education system.
She also pledged her support for the Standing Committee on the Closure of Illegal Universities.
“My attention has also been drawn to the mobilisation of unqualified students for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC.)
“In line with the extant rules, the NYSC is exclusively for graduates from recognised universities and accredited programmes.’’
She directed universities to as a matter of expediency, ensure that degree results were released early to aid quick mobilisation of qualified students for the NYSC programme.
Rufa’I warned that institutions undertaking wrong mobilisation of students for the national service would henceforth be sanctioned.