The ultimatum given to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, expired yesterday, but the union defied the ‘resume of get sacked’ threat by the federal government, with classes in several schools still deserted as the lecturers failed to resume work.
At the University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Lagos State University, Ojo, University of Benin, Edo State, lecturers stuck to their guns and refused to attend classes.
Apparently stunned by the refusal of university lecturers to resume classes at the expiration of the 9 December ultimatum, the Federal Government has summoned all Vice Chancellors of federal and state universities to a crucial meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
Also invited to the meeting were members of the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) On Needs Assessment Report for inauguration. ASUU has a representative in the IMC.
A statement signed by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Professor Julius Okojie, on behalf of the Supervising Minister of Education, Barrister Nyeson Wike, published in a national daily yesterday, called on Vice Chancellors to come to the meeting with a list of their prioritised projects based on Needs Assessment Report for funding.
“In addition, Vice Chancellors of state universities must come along with with their account details,” the statement added.
It is however not clear whether the meeting was called to disburse the N200b the government said it had deposited in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, which ASUU is insisting must be communicated to it formally.
The sack threat by the federal government has been condemned by many Nigerians, even as the union remain unfazed.
A member of the Senate Committee on Education, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, at the weekend said that issuing threat and deadline to the lecturers was not the best way to resolve the lingering ASUU strike.
“I condemn all provocative statements from whosoever. We are all Nigerians, ASUU members are Nigerians committed to the development of the Nigerian state. We have interacted with them, and they are committed to the uplift meant of the education sector along with others who are also committed to the sector. So, issuing threat by whosoever is condemnable,” Bagudu said.
ASUU’s insistence on getting all agreements well documented and signed by the Attorney General of the federation, and the subsequent request for a formal information on the N200bn the FG claimed to have deposited with the CBN may not be too much to ask for, as the union recalled incidences where the government had used the media to propagate falsehood and promises never kept.
The President, ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge Isa, said the lecturers were not moved by the N200 billion that the federal Government announced that it had deposited in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
“In January 2012, when the Secretary to the Government [Anyim Pius Anyim] of the Federation was dictating that MoU, he told us that they had already set N100 billion aside and that once we finished the NEEDS Assessment report, the money would be made available for the commencement of implementation of the revitalisation of universities. That is almost two years ago,”
Fagge said in an interview in the current edition of TheNEWS magazine.