The majority of the country’s federal and state universities are still reeling from the effects of the Sunday, November 4, directive of the National Executive Council (NEC) of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to its members to embark on total and indefinite strike with immediate effect
The marching order was the outcome of the deliberation of the NEC, which met at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State.
Six weeks after, the various campuses across the country are looking like ghost towns as students were forced to go home. Since then, the students have been anxiously waiting for when the government and ASUU would resolve the issues in contention.
Checks on campuses across the country showed that the lecture halls and libraries are empty while the lecturers have also abandoned their offices in compliance with the NEC directive.
The representatives of the Federal Government and the leadership of the union have met severally, including on Monday, December 10 with no end in sight. Even when the Federal Government invoked the ‘no work, no pay’ rule and asked vice chancellors to stop salaries of the striking lecturers, the university teachers were not bothered as they vowed to also apply ‘no pay, no work’, a development that forced the government to withdraw the directive.
After one of the meetings, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, told Nigerians that the government had partially met the demands of ASUU, which led to speculations that the union would suspend the ongoing strike.
But in swift reactions, some principal officers of ASUU on Wednesday and Thursday last week denied that it was planning to suspend the industrial action, stating that there was no concrete agreement on ground.
The officers told Sunday Sun that only the NEC could suspend the strike, pointing out that no NEC meeting had yet been fixed.
Since the strike, ASUU and the government have met many times, the last being on Monday, December 17, and like others in the past, the meeting ended in a deadlock. The leadership of the union expressed displeasure in the way the government representatives were handling the discussion.
One of the branch chairmen told Sunday Sun that if the government officials continue with the lackadaisical attitude towards resolving the issues in contention, the implication would be that the students would continue to stay at home for a long time except President Buhari intervened and took decisions that would allow peace to return to the various universities.