The hope that the four month old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, may be called off this week, following President Goodluck Jonathan’s intervention last week, may be dashed as the 61 chapters of the union are divided over the move to call off the strike.
President Jonathan held a meeting with the leadership of ASUU last week, where he made some offers which ASUU was expected to take to their members for deliberation with the hope that it will pacify them into resuming academic activities this week.
Congresses of the 61 chapters of the union were therefore held, yesterday, while the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting will hold tomorrow in one of the northern universities.
The outcome of the union’s congresses indicated that there was disagreement on the need to call off the strike.
Vanguard gathered that while some ASUU chapters were ready to suspend the strike in the light of the President’s intervention, others insisted that they will continue the strike due to what they described as their distrust for the government.
It was learnt that while the University of Lagos, UNILAG, resolved to suspend the strike, chapters like the University of Ibadan, UI; University of Benin, UNIBEN; University of Calabar, UNICAL; University of Jos, UNIJOS and the Lagos State University, LASU, said the strike must continue, arguing that the Federal Government could not be trusted to fulfil its promise of injecting over N1.1 trillion to universities in the next five years.
A source at University of Lagos, UNILAG, chapter, told Vanguard that the debate at its congress was on whether to end or suspend the strike.
He said: “We eventually moved to suspend the strike and end it only when the President pumps in the first N220 billion into the universities in January 2014.
“Although this is not totally in line with the 2009 agreement, we feel that we can suspend the strike out of respect for the President. We just want to give him the benefit of doubt, and hope that he fulfills his promise.”
At Lagos State University, LASU, one of the executive members of ASUU, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, affirmed that though the chapter was not averse to the proposal of President Jonathan, but the consensus at its congress was that ASUU should not just be a monitoring body when the fund is finally injected.
He said: “After our congress, which lasted several hours, it was the resolve of our chapter that the strike should not be called off, because we are uncomfortable with the fact that the Federal Government has said that ASUU will just be a monitoring officer, while the Minister of Education will be the implementation officer.
“We argued that we must be part and parcel of how the funds are managed and what they have earmarked for within the period of five years.
“How can we know if the Ministry of Education and other authorities are prudently spending the funds for the proposed projects if ASUU is not part of the management committee? So, our position is that the strike should not be called off.”
Members of ASUU at the University of Jos, UNIJOS voted in favour of the continuation of the strike. 194 members voted for the strike to continue while 80 voted for a suspension.
Those who spoke in favour of the strike to continue wondered why the strike should be called off on the basis of pleas and verbal promises by the president, when the government is allegedly reputed for not to honoring agreements.
They were said to have argued that the suffering by students and members in the last four months would be a waste if something concrete did not come out of the strike to improve the situation in universities.
It was further gathered that those for the suspension of the strike spoke passionately on the need to consider the impact of the strike on students and the gesture from President Jonathan, who met personally with ASUU leaders and pleaded with them to suspend the strike.
A few of them were quoted as saying it was better to suspend the strike and find other ways of pursuing their demands so as not to lose the support of the people. [Vanguard]