Hopes that the 109-day-old strike by public university lecturers would be called off on Tuesday have been dashed, as the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities asked Nigerians to wait till Friday for its final decision on the issue.
The National Executive Council of ASUU had met on Tuesday night to deliberate on the new offer presented to the union’s negotiating team by the Federal Government, after the intervention of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.
Many had hoped that the outcome of the meeting would result in the suspension of the strike.
But a top source at the meeting confided in one of our correspondents that the NEC decided that branch chairmen of the union should go back to their respective chapters to brief lecturers about the offer and the position to take thereafter.
“The strike is not yet over. You have to wait till Friday when the national president, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, will brief the press on our position on the current action. For now, the NEC’s directive is that we should go back to our various universities to brief our members, after which we will get back to the NEC and on Friday, this week, a press conference will hold, where our position will be made known to the public,” the source revealed.
Asked to comment on the new offer by the government, the source told our correspondent to wait till Friday. The source only said that the government had shifted it’s earlier position on earlier refusal to sign the agreement on behalf of the state governments.
The ASUU president also expressed a similar view in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday, saying that the issues involved would have to be discussed at the local chapter level before a final decision would be reached.
He said, “The decision is that state chapters of the union have to make their input in line with the democratic principles of the union.”
Asked to comment on the areas of contention, Awuzie said he could not do that since our correspondent was not a member of the NEC.
He said, “If I tell you the areas of discussion, then you have become a member of the NEC. Are you a member of NEC?”
But he said that no date had been fixed for the reconvening of the NEC meeting.
“We have not taken any specific date yet, but they have to make their input soonest. That means we have to get their input as soon as possible,” he said.
But the top source at the NEC meeting, which held behind closed doors on Tuesday, said that Friday had been picked as the day that the final decision would be made known to the public.
Another source, who attended the NEC meeting, said that members expressed divergent opinions on the proposal by the Federal Government that individual universities should decide the remuneration of lecturers.
Some had insisted that the state universities should be adequately catered for in the negotiations.
The decision by ASUU to call the NEC meeting was taken last Friday after several meetings with the Edo State governor and the Federal Government team.
Though the Chairman, ASUU, University of Lagos Chapter, Dr. Ayo Olowe, confirmed that the union would brief the media on Friday, he refused to comment on the details of Tuesday’s meeting.
“Just wait, exercise some patience. By Friday you will know the union’s position,” he said.
Meanwhile, priests in the Anglican Dioceses of Akure and Ife East have called on the Federal Government to put an end to the strike.
They lamented that the delay in resolving the crisis which had kept students at home for the past four months, had caused more harm than good.
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