Gabriel Dike, Bimbola Oyesola, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin, Seye Ojo, Ibadan, and Judex Okoro, Calabar
Academic activities were, yesterday, paralysed nationwide following industrial action declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to press home the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement and stoppage of their February salaries by the Federal Government.
Reports from branches of ASUU across the country confirmed that lecturers complied and stayed away from academic activities, including lectures.
ASUU had on Monday directed its members to embark on a two-week warning strike because the Federal Government failed to pay salaries of lecturers who did not enroll in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and non-implementation of the 2009 agreement and MoU.
The decision to embark on the two-week strike was taken during the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Enugu.
However, the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) has dissociated its members in nine universities from the strike.
CONUA leader, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, told Daily Sun that the body took a decision in November 2019 to enroll in the IPPIS: “CONUA will not participate in the strike. Our members enrolled in the IPPIS, so there is no need to embark on strike. But we expect the Federal Government to address other outstanding issues.”
Strike paralyses UNILAG, FUNAAB, UI, others
Chairman of the University of Lagos, ASUU branch, Dr. Dele Ashiru, said members complied with the NEC’s directive.
“Our members did not go to the class today (Tuesday) though students were around. We will not attend any academic meeting until the strike is over. Management will be informed on Wednesday after our congress’,’ Ashiru said.
The ASUU Lagos zone coordinator, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, said some branches even started the strike on Monday, while many would comply Tuesday, and reports indicated full compliance.
“Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB) members started on Tuesday. Hopefully, other branches will join. For the Lagos State University (LASU), you know they have a crisis there. If they are not able to join, we will understand the situation,” he said.
Academic activities at the University of Ibadan were also put on hold. ASUU chairman, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, said the university was part of the decision on the warning strike.
“ASUU, UI, was part of the decision for the warning strike to take place. So, we are in total support and in compliance with it. You can now see that it is not only students that are affected but even our members. If anything holds here, the branch chairman will be sanctioned for it. We had been suspended before because a lecturer held a Ph.D examination in his office during the strike and UI had to battle with that suspension for five years,” he said.
ASUU’s monitoring team was sighted going from one faculty to another, ensuring that no activity held on the UI premises.
Branch chairman of ASUU in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Dr. Ade Adejumo, said there was no threat to the strike and members were briefed about the NEC directive. He said congress would be convened today (Wednesday).
UNN sends students home, ESUT yet to join
Lecturers at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), yesterday joined their counterparts in the two-week warning strike.
Consequently, academic activities were paralyzed and a 10-man team of enforcers constituted by the ASUU, UNN chapter, moved round the institution to ensure compliance with the directive of the national leadership and ordered students to go home, insisting that there would be no lectures until the strike was called off.
ASUU had ordered the warning strike on Monday to press for the release of salaries of their members withheld by the Federal Government over their refusal to enroll in the IPPIS, among others things.
Daily Sun gathered that a few lecturers who came to school in the morning did not visit the classrooms, just as the lecture halls were deserted.
The warning strike came at a time the school was still trying to normalise its academic calendar, which was disrupted by the last industrial action embarked upon by the teachers.
A lecturer in the institution who spoke on anonymity said, although the strike would affect the academic calendar, they were not happy with government’s attitude to things concerning them.
However, the situation was different at ESUT, as academic activities continued in the school yesterday.
Though the NEC decision to embark on the strike was reached at the school on Monday, the lecturers were, yesterday, still teaching their students and carrying out other academic duties.
Some of the lecturers who spoke said the local branch of their union was yet to direct them to join the strike. One of them said: “We are aware of the strike by the national union but we will need to be directed on how to go about it. This is because, one of the basic issues in contention affects federal workers.”
UNILORIN joins strike after 20 years
For the first time in 20 years, teachers at the University of Ilorin have agreed to comply with the directive of ASUU to proceed on a two-week strike.
The school had rejected previous industrial actions called by ASUU as a result of a split in the association in the institution. This resulted in the university becoming famous for a stable academic calendar, untouched by ASUU’s strikes.
The feud in the local ASUU chapter was eventually resolved July last year through the effort of the vice-chancellor, Abdulkareem Age.
The UNILORIN ASUU branch chairman, Moyosore Ajao, confirmed UNIILORIN would go on strike this time.
Speaking on the school’s over 19 years of uninterrupted academic calendar, Ajao said, “Everything that has a beginning must surely have an end. We cannot be part of a body and say we don’t want to function with the body. The question everybody should ask is how did ASUU get bad like this? It is because we have an irresponsible government. And we have a dishonourable minister of finance who would not want to pay people, after working to earn pay.”
Ajao said all academic activities in the school would be on hold for the period of the warning strike, including the first semester examinations going on in the school.
UNICAL proceeds with convocation
Management of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), says the 33rd convocation of the institution would go ahead despite the ongoing nationwide strike by ASUU.
The union is currently on a two-week warning strike over the failure of the Federal Government to implement the 2009 agreement reached with the union, fuelling speculation that the institution would be forced to delay the convocation.
However, briefing journalists at the senate chambers of the institution in Calabar on Tuesday, the VC, Professor Zana Akpagu, said the institution’s management, after consultations, resolved to go ahead with the event.
“The senate of the institution has reviewed the current situation and has resolved to go ahead with the 33rd convocation. The dispute with ASUU is national and not a local one and as a result we hope to have the cooperation of the union despite the ongoing strike,” he said.
Akpagu said there were about 3,200 graduates and over 400 postgraduate candidates for the convocation.
Out of this number, he said, there were 13 first class graduates, 549 second class upper graduates, 1,010 second class lower graduates and 385 third class graduates.
On honorary degrees, he disclosed that four personalities would be honoured, including the Vice President of Liberia Jewel-Howard Taylor and retired federal permanent secretary, Chief Ann Ene Ita.
Others are a director with the African Development Bank and alumnus of the institution, Professor Anthony Nyong, as well as the Emir of Askira, Alhaji Mai Abdullahi Ibn Muhammadu Askirama.
FG invites ASUU for dialogue
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said the union has been invited to a crucial meeting for Thursday, March 12th, 2020.
A statement by the Special Adviser, Media, Nwachukwu Obidiwe said also invited to the meeting scheduled to hold at the Conference Room of the Minister of Labour and Employment are the officials of the Ministries of Education and Finance and the National University Commission (NUC).
Reps summon union, Education, Labour, Employment ministers
The House of Representatives has invited the Ministers of Education, Labour and ASUU to find a solution to ongoing warning strike by the union.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the move arose from the unanimous adoption of a motion on “Urgent Matters of Public Importance” by Dachung Bagos (PDP-Plateau) at plenary yesterday .
Moving the motion, Bagos said that ASUU had on March 9, after its NEC in Enugu, embarked on a two-week warning strike.
Bagos stated that schools had just resumed and the strike, if allowed to take full effect, would cost a lot of students extra time in the academic year: “Also concerned that the continued yearly strike by ASUU is becoming a national embarrassment to the country.
“It is worrisome that the continued strike has encouraged education tourism of Nigerians to other countries.”
Kwewum Shawulu (PDP-Taraba) said Nigerians spent over 300 million pounds to study in the United Kingdom and over N5 billion as school fees in Ghana.
He said parents were sending their children to study in countries where Nigeria did not have comparative advantage.
The Rep said more than one million children applied for admission to universities in the country annually, and universities in the country admitted about 250,000 of the 800,000 applicants.
In his ruling, Gbajabiamila mandated the Clerk to issue letters to stakeholders for a meeting with him on Wednesday at 9 a.m.