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Looming Strike: Panic as ASUU takes final decision on Monday
Panic has enraptured students, parents and universities staff as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, National Executive Council meeting is ongoing, hitherto.
The over four-hours meeting now, taking place at the University of Lagos, Akoka Campus, was convened by the union to decide possible action to take following the alleged refusal of the federal government to accede to its demands.
The union had last week hinted its decision whether to proceed on strike to protest the government’s action or continue to render services would be determined at its ongoing NEC meeting, expected to end tomorrow in Lagos.
The decision which will be via voting would determine the fate of students of public universities across the country, who had just returned to campuses after the yuletide break.
The union latest action is aimed at forcing the government to sign the re-negotiated FGN-ASUU 2009 agreement, payment of the balance of Earned Academic Allowances, deployment of University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, payment of lecturers on sabbatical as well as the proliferation of universities by state governments.
Recall that disturbed by the lecturers’ threat, President Muhammadu Buhari had, last week, during a meeting with a delegation of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, begged the union not to yield to its strike threat.
The president, at the meeting, had assured the religious leaders that his administration was committed to respecting promises it entered with the union.
His plea was immediately dismissed by the ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who said the union would not succumb to the president’s antics, saying because “We have heard him so many times and nothing happened”, there would be no going back on industrial action ‘except when we start seeing something concrete being done.”
According to him, the president’s claim states that the government was facing financial pressure did not hold water as according to him, the government claims not to have money for its demands had, on the other hand, bailed banks out of problems.
“Are we not seeing things that are covering billions of naira? Bailing out banks, and others and having multiple travels by governors, principal officers of government – all-consuming dollars?
“If education is really the priority of this government, would we be saying there is no fund? How many countries in the world allocate five or six per cent of their budget to education?
“Nigeria is the country that allocates the lowest budget to education. That is the problem because they don’t believe in it because their children are not in this country,” he had said.
As the nation awaits the outcome of the ongoing ASUU meeting held in Lagos, there are fears that it would declare a possible strike as its last resort to ensuring that the government accede to the demands.
Speaking to Vanguard, Mr Isaac Odey, whose son is a 300 level student at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, begged the federal government to do everything possible to avert the looming strike, saying allowing students to be sent back home as a result of the lectures action would be devastating for parents whose children just returned to school.
Odey, who lamented the effect of COVID-19 coupled with the recent strike by ASUU, said the developments, caused serious setbacks for both parents and their wards.
“My y son would have graduated and even finished from the National Youths Service Corps by now but he’s still in 300 level, all because of the Covid-19 lockdown and the previous ASUU’s strike.
“We appeal to ASUU, on the other hand, to deploy other means of resolving their issues with the government instead of seeing strike as the last resort,” he advised.