From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have vowed that no one, not even the Federal Government, can cajole them to return to the classrooms when their reasons for the seven-months old nationwide strike have not been met.
ASUU reactions was in response to a letter from the National Universities Commission (NUC) directing Vice Chancellors, Pro-Chancellors, and other relevant stakeholders to facilitate immediate reopening of University campuses, perhaps, in line with the judgement of the National Industrial Court (NIC).
Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, had in a letter signed by the NUC Director of Finance and Accounts, Sam Onazi, asked the VCs and Pro-Chancellors, to ensure the campuses are reopened as quickly as possible and return of normal academic and non-academic activities in the campuses as contained in the court judgement.
He also asked that the VCs and Pro-Chancellors ensure that ASUU members immediately resume and commence lectures, and also restore other daily activities and routines of the various University campuses.
However, ASUU Vice President, Dr. Chris Piwuna, told Daily Sun, that neither the Federal Government nor the NUC was being truthful with the issue of the strike, as they are aware that ASUU had appealed the NIC judgement which ordered its members return to classrooms.
He said: “NUC is obviously doing a fruitless job because we won’t comply with the directive. NUC and other government officials are clearly aware that ASUU appealed the NIC judgement last week, and this means that all parties must hold on till the matter of appeal is concluded at the Appeal Court.
“Because we have appealed the NIC judgement, the basis of the letter from NUC doesn’t hold anymore. We expect that the NUC should write another letter informing the Vice-Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors that there’s an Appeal pending in Court. But we know they won’t do that for reasons best known to them.
“This is just effort in futility because nobody can force us to return to the classroom until the Appeal is concluded. There’s no amount of coercion by the government or anybody that will force us to return to the classrooms until the matter is concluded in the Court of Appeal.
“I have to re-emphasize that ASUU is not insisting that the matter must be resolve in their own way, and that’s why we are in negotiation with the government. We are always ready to find a middle ground to end the protracted crisis, but the representatives of Federal Government are not helping matter. Each time we hit a middle ground, they (government representatives) would shift the goal post. They keep setting up Committee upon committee and discarding the report.
“We have realized that what shifting ground means to the government is that we return to the classrooms while the challenges are not solved, and that’s not acceptable to us.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC), Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, told journalists that officials of the Committee will take a decision on the matter after a meeting that will take place soon.
Recall that ASUU had been on strike since February 14th, 2022, to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.
Several meetings between ASUU and the Federal Government have ended in a deadlock. Last week, the National Industrial Court (NIC) delivered a judgement directing the striking university lecturers to return to classrooms immediately.