#ASUU Strike: FG, Atiku Laud ASUU as Union Calls off Strike
Chuks Okocha, Damilola Oyedele, Senator Iroegbu, Grace Chiemezie and Aisha Wakaso
Six months after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an industrial strike over the federal government’s refusal to honour an agreement reached in 2009, the union yesterday in Minna announced that it had suspended the strike directing its members to resume work immediately.
The decision by ASUU to call off the strike got the thumbs up from the federal government and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, both of whom expressed joy that academic activities would resume at the country’s public universities.
Speaking yesterday on the outcome of the marathon meeting held by the National Executive Council of ASUU at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, the president of the union, Dr. Nasir Fagge, said government should be honourable to fulfill its part of the agreement, adding that ASUU had fulfilled its own.
“Finally, NEC resolved to suspend the strike embarked upon on July 1, 2013, with effect from Tuesday, December 17, 2013 and directs its branches to resume work forthwith.
“We are going back to rekindle the motivation and aspiration in our members to strive to encourage our students to excel, all in the expectation that government will sincerely honour its own part of the bargain. ASUU expects government to implement faithfully the resolutions reached and signed,” he said.
The ASUU president promised Nigerians that despite the duration of the strike and the lost time in the university calendar, ASUU he said, would work towards making it up without compromising any of its standards.
He also warned that none of ASUU’s members should be victimised in any way for whatever role they played in the process leading to the resolution of the dispute.
Reacting to the union’s resolution, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, expressed joy over the suspension of the strike.
In a text message to THISDAY, he hailed the suspension as “a good development”.
Also, the former vice-president hailed the decision by ASUU to call off the strike and hoped that it would afford all parties the needed opportunity for a reset of the nation’s education sector.
He noted that though the strike had lasted for a long time, he expressed his satisfaction over the willingness of ASUU and the government to find a common ground in the interest of students in particular and the nation’s education sector in general.
He urged ASUU and the federal government to put in place a strong mechanism for resolving crises of this nature to ensure that they do not fester and disrupt academic studies in the future.
“It has become imperative for ASUU, the federal government and other stakeholders to put in place a mechanism for addressing crises of this nature so that our students and their parents will not be visited with prolonged closures of our universities in the future with its concomitant effects,” Atiku said.
The former vice-president who had initiated an online petition to end the strike, regretted the extended loss of time arising from the closure of universities and its adverse effect, which he said, would be borne in the main by the unlucky students and their fee-paying parents.
Meanwhile, as the strike was being called off, the federal government yesterday finalised its agreement with ASUU.
This was the outcome of the 12-man monitoring committee on the implementation of the recommendations of the committee on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Universities inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
Anyim said the inauguration of the committee was timely, especially in view of its potential to consolidate and add new energy to the speedy and complete implementation of the recommendations of the committee on needs assessment of Nigerian universities.
According to him, it would hasten the process embarked upon to revamp and reposition the nation’s education sector.
Also, the federal government has suspended the Chairman/Pro-Chancellor of the Governing Council of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. Emeka Enejere, with immediate effect.
A statement issued yesterday by the Special Assistant (Media) to the supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Simeon Nwakaudu, did not provide details as to the reason for the suspension.
Wike also appealed to pro-chancellors of federal polytechnics in Nigeria to mediate on the two-month-old strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).
Speaking at a meeting with the pro-chancellors in Abuja yesterday, the minister disclosed that the government had already started the process of paying the N20.8 billion arrears owed to the polytechnic staff.
He added that the funds would be released as soon as the procedures are concluded.